People wear kippas as they attend a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue, to denounce an anti-Semitic attack on a young man wearing a kippa in the capital earlier this month, in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018..
(photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)
In medieval Spain and Portugal, Jews hid their true identity to avoid the Inquisition and led double lives. They became known as the Anusim.
Now, in 2018, French and German Jewish leaders advise Jews to hide their Jewish identities in public, 78 years after the “never again” Shoah.
Is it really such a surprise? Not really. Postwar Germany’s most important agenda was rebuilding its cities and economy. Thousands of hard-core war criminals escaped justice. Former Nazis also formed the core of Germany’s post-war justice and education systems. Oddly enough (the less charitable might say “intentionally”), German Jewish judges, teachers, academics, physicians, etc. who managed to escape were not invited back to their old positions.
Slowly, Jews tried to rebuild their synagogues and communities in a country where hardly any Jews were left. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, many Jews came to Germany, providing Jewish life with a tailwind. Many of these Jews were never connected to Jewish culture, but at least Germany felt good about bringing these highly educated people to strengthen struggling communities, and of course, contribute to Germany’s economic and intellectual infrastructures which had never regained their pre-Nazi levels.
Sadly, things are not working out as planned.
First, the slogan “Never again” meant different things. For Jews it meant never again to the horrors of antisemitism, racism and genocide. For Germans it meant “no more war,” having lost the two world wars it started. Pacifism therefore became its raison d’etre, not Israel’s existence, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel says.
When the latest assault recently occurred in Berlin on a kippa-wearing Israeli, scores of people who witnessed it, bar one, did not intervene. Pacifism not only emboldens the perpetrator, it damages the fabric and internal cohesion of societal mores, values and sense of purpose.
In fact, the German government has acknowledged that antisemitism has steadily increased over the years, despite education and security.
Before the latest attack, Jews were advised some years ago by the German authorities not to affix a mezuza outside their door posts and for communities to mail newsletters in plain envelopes without a logo.
Germany has become embarrassed about its reputation, as Merkel often points out when a new outrage occurs. She promises to eradicate it, and to her credit has appointed Dr. Felix Klein to deal with what she calls Germany’s shame.
Dr. Klein has to decide whether to strengthen security measures such as more CCTV cameras – a sensitive issue in liberal post-Nazi Germany, or to make hard decisions and seriously overhaul the education system.
MORE SECURITY is not a long-term policy; neither is the advice to Jews to conceal their Jewishness and become “Eurosim.”
Germany needs to initiate a policy that goes beyond the mere management of antisemitism. It is not about its reputation alone. Germany needs to recognize that this scourge is about its culture not about Israel. After all, Catholics don’t get beaten because the Vatican bans abortion and artificial birth control.
There are mixed messages. On the one hand, the established churches condemn antisemitism but their organizations, like Brot fuer die Welt, Misereor and Pax Christi, fund radical anti-Israel NGOs whose goal is the demise of Israel. These organizations are part of Germany’s foreign aid. NGO Monitor has documented these in detail. In addition, the German government declines to ban Iran’s “political wing” proxy Hezbollah that has 950 members in Germany. Iran’s political leaders regularly call for Israel’s destruction.
Germans need to internalize that Jewish history did not start with the Holocaust.
Therefore in educating schoolchildren, a visit to Auschwitz is not sufficient. They need to learn that Jewish history is unique and that many Western laws and customs are based on Jewish ideas from 3,500 years ago.
German children also need to learn that the modern hatred of Jews started substantially with church founders Paul and Augustine, later developing side-by-side with the magnificence of European culture in art, music and literature, yet transcending the Enlightenment. Students need to be made aware of and discuss, how and why the Holocaust occurred in post-Enlightenment Europe, long after the invention of airplanes and before the State of Israel was established.
With the influx of millions of Muslim asylum- seekers – many of whom were raised on Jew-hatred, conspiracy theories, misogyny and cruelty – the challenges are that much greater. These challenges, however, have no hope of being resolved by compromising truth through continued political correctness, misguided rationalization as to the “causes” of antisemitism, and selective education that lacks historical context.
Dr. Klein faces a mammoth task that will require an overhaul of traditional German culture. Since Germany is the leading nation of Europe, much depends on it for direction Europe will go. Changing demographics, along with Muslims entering Europe from non-democratic tyrannical societies only makes his undertaking that much harder.
This month Dr. Klein takes up his position to fight antisemitism. Will he have the determination to really succeed or will he oversee more “management?” The Eurosim are watching.
The writer is the author of the satirical book ‘The Trombone Man: Tales of a Misogynist.’