Berlin’s Fasanenstrasse Synagogue 370.
(photo credit: Jerusalem Post archives)
In a throwback to its darkest past, the German government recently decided to
back an initiative which singles out Jewish-owned businesses and targets them
for detrimental treatment. Joining 13 other European Union members, Berlin has
reportedly agreed to support efforts aimed at applying special labels of origin
to products manufactured by Jewish owned factories in Judea and
The goal, of course, is to harm the livelihood of Jewish
businessmen and entrepreneurs as a way of undermining the settlement enterprise.
Needless to say, goods made by Palestinian-run plants in the territories will
not similarly be branded.
This is an absolute outrage, one that is both
morally obscene and historically indefensible, and the government of Angela
Merkel should be ashamed of itself for going along with such a discriminatory
practice. Whatever one may think of the peace process and the two-state
solution, it should be obvious that treating merchandise differently simply
because the person who owns the factory where it was made is a follower of Moses
rather than Muhammad is an act of pure bigotry.
And in light of its own
sordid record during the 20th century, Germany and its leaders have a special
responsibility to be exceptionally sensitive to such issues, particularly when
they relate to Jews. After all, it was 80 years ago, in April 1933, that the
Nazis launched a nationwide assault on Jewish owned businesses throughout
Germany, painting yellow-and-black Stars of David on storefronts and
discouraging people from patronizing them.
This was carried out under the
slogan, “Kauf nicht bei Juden
!” (Don’t buy from Jews!). Hence, for any German
government to stand up and declare: “Don’t buy from Jews,” even if the proposal
is limited to the Jews of Judea and Samaria, is downright chilling and should
send a shiver down everyone’s spine.
No one is suggesting that Berlin is
planning a second Holocaust, but there is no escaping the painful historical
However contrite Germans have been over their wartime record,
they still do not see anything wrong with bestowing special treatment upon the
But what makes this exercise so exceptionally absurd is that those
it harms the most are in fact the Palestinians.
According to statistics
compiled by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the territories,
more than 23,000 permits were granted to Palestinians to work in Jewish
communities in Judea and Samaria in 2012. Many Palestinian Arabs can be found
working for Israeli companies based in one of the nearly 20 industrial zones
located throughout the area.
And as a recent foreign ministry report
noted, nearly half of these Palestinian workers are between the ages of 18-29,
which means that the Jewish settlements are a major source of employment and
income for young Palestinians joining the workforce.
average daily pay is 88.3 percent higher than what their fellow Palestinians are
making in the Palestinian-controlled areas. All told, their potential annual
income, says the ministry, amounts to nearly NIS 1 billion, or over a quarter of
a billion dollars.
This means that efforts by Germany and others to
delegitimize Jewish-owned businesses in Judea and Samaria could end up impairing
the Palestinian economy far more extensively and painfully than
So just who is it that the Germans are really hurting here? The
duplicity of the labeling campaign targeting Judea and Samaria is all the more
apparent when one considers that no such campaigns are being contemplated for
Chinese products made in Tibet, Russian items manufactured in Chechnya or
Spanish goods from Catalonia. Only when it comes to the Jewish state do the
liberals of Europe insist on drawing a line in the sand.
This is not only
hypocrisy, it is hatred, pure and simple.
As the Anti-Defamation League’s
Abraham Foxman put it, “If the only country you want to single out is Israel,
that’s anti- Semitism.”
It sure is.