Israelis were jolted on Wednesday night by the news of a shooting attack outside a German synagogue and Jewish cemetery earlier in the day, during Yom Kippur services.
When all the Hebrew TV channels opened their 8:00 p.m. broadcasts – after the customary annual airwave blackout in honor of Judaism’s highest and most somber holy day – the national sigh of “here we go again” accompanied the meal that ended the 25-hour fast. The frightening increase in the frequency and degree of antisemitic violence in Germany has become a topic of international reportage, after all. So this latest disturbing assault, which left two people dead and two others wounded, did not come as a complete surprise.
Another upsetting and predictable aspect of the incident – involving a man clad in military fatigues and equipped with a GoPro camera trying to shoot his way into the locked and guarded synagogue to massacre Jews – was the way in which Israeli anchors stressed repeatedly that the perpetrator “is a native German, not an immigrant.”
In other words, the killer, since identified as 27-year-old Stephan Balliet, is a white, right-wing extremist/neo-Nazi, not one of the flood of Muslim migrants from the Middle East whom German Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed into her country.
SUCH BLATANT reverse racism on the part of anchors, pundits and left-wing politicians in Israel is no different from that expressed by their counterparts elsewhere. Its intent is clear: to make a political, and hence moral, distinction between two different forms of Jew-hatred.
Indeed, to hit this point home, one Israeli analyst made sure to highlight the fact that when the gunman failed on his original mission, thanks to the high level of security employed by the synagogue, he aimed next at the kabob restaurant nearby. This, the analyst stressed, was proof that neo-Nazis hate Muslims as much as they do Jews.
But restating the obvious by telling viewers what they already know was not the purpose of the comment. No, its goal was to steer the discussion in a particular direction – that of the so-called “dangerous rise to power” of right-wing leaders in Europe and America, such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban and US President Donald Trump – and to place the blame for antisemitism squarely on their shoulders.
Engaging in this inexcusable tactic gives permission to those who appease or offer excuses like “mental illness” for jihadist Jew-killers to join hands without apology against antisemitism. It is thus that German Chancellor Angela Merkel participated in a vigil at Berlin’s New Synagogue on Wednesday night for the victims of the Halle assault, organized by Sawsan Chebli, a city representative of Palestinian origin.
Addressing New Synagogue Rabbi Gesa Ederberg, Merkel said: “Unfortunately, on your holy day today, we’ve witnessed something horrible. Two people have been killed, and there has been an attack on Jews in Germany. My aim, and that of all politicians, is to do everything to ensure you can live safely. And this day shows that it hasn’t been enough, that we have to do more.”
Rabbi Ederberg’s contribution was to call on “civil society to oppose anyone who would use the term ‘Jew’ as an insult,” and to fight “all brown forces.”
She was not referring to the color of anyone’s skin, of course, which would be tantamount to anti-migrant racism, but rather to that of Nazi garb.
Nazis are legitimate targets of wrath, to be sure. But they are consensual ones, which automatically categorizes them as members of an outcast fringe sector of German society. Can Merkel or Rabbi Ederberg say the same about the antisemitic Middle Easterners in their midst? Hardly.
ONE WONDERS how Merkel viewed the vigil attendees draped in Israeli flags. Or how they felt about her, considering her dismissal – as “anti-Israel rhetoric” – of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Gen. Hossein Salami’s recent remarks pertaining to the necessity, and Iran’s capacity, to “wipe the sinister Zionist regime off the map.”
Merkel’s feeble reaction – meek mumbling about Israel’s having a right to exist – makes sense in the context of her overall policy toward Iran. She wants desperately to retain the 2015 nuclear deal with the mullahs in Tehran, and the commerce that goes with it. She also refuses to ban the activity of key Iranian proxy Hezbollah within Germany’s borders.
This undoubtedly explains why she didn’t respond to Salami’s other appalling decree, about the “second step” of the 1979 revolution that ushered in the reign of the ayatollahs: the “global mobilization of Islam.”
It also sheds light on something even more shocking: the participation in February of Germany’s Foreign Ministry in a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution at the Iranian Embassy in Berlin. It beggars belief that a government whose foreign minister, Heiko Maas, claims to have gone into politics in the first place because of the atrocities at Auschwitz would sanction such festivities, let alone attend them.
Equally astonishing was the congratulatory telegram sent to Tehran by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, praising the mullahs for their revolution.
This nauseating pandering might appear to be a peculiar way for European liberals to treat the world’s most dangerous hegemonic, genocidal, antisemitic regime since those of Hitler and Stalin. Particularly in view of the fact that in today’s Germany, Holocaust-denial and Nazi symbols are outlawed; Holocaust memorials and museums dot the landscape like the national cyani flower; Holocaust education and visits to former concentration camps are part of the school curriculum; and thousands of young Israelis have taken up residence there, to benefit from government subsidies and bask in Berlin’s famed nightlife.
Furthermore, Merkel has stated that Jewish security is a priority. In an interview with CNN in May, she even said, “There is to this day not a single synagogue, not a single daycare center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen.”
TO MAKE MATTERS more puzzling, a week or so before the chancellor uttered these words, the German government’s first-ever antisemitism commissioner, Felix Klein, was raked over the coals for assessing that Jews who wear their kippot in public are at risk, since Jew-hatred in Germany has been “showing its ugly face more openly.”
Klein’s admonition came on the heels of and reflected a German Interior Ministry report according to which antisemitic hate crimes rose by nearly 20% in 2018 from the previous year, and the number of physical attacks against Jews in 2018 had increased to 69 from 37 in 2017.
Forced to reverse his perfectly justified warning, on the grounds that Jews should not be cowered into keeping their identity secret in a democratic and free society, Klein called on “all citizens of Berlin and across Germany to wear their kippot [on June 1] if there are new, intolerable attacks targeting Israel and Jews on the occasion of Al-Quds Day in Berlin.”
Whoops. Klein probably wasn’t supposed to mention the annual anti-Zionist hate fest in the context of combating antisemitism. Merkel, who can’t even bring herself to call Iran’s determination to annihilate the Jewish state antisemitic, certainly must have been peeved at the form that Klein’s about-face on public kippah-wearing took. Good Germans, she believes, decry the sins of their past; they don’t dare mess with the current sins emboldened by political correctness.
WHICH BRINGS US back to Israel, many of whose elites suffer from a similar skewed view of antisemitism as a sickness that is more fatal when it comes from white supremacists than from Islamists. Such a distortion of reality is particularly ridiculous in a country threatened daily by jihadist terrorism. And it wouldn’t be problematic if it didn’t seep into the consciousness of native-born Israelis who are fed the afore-mentioned false distinction between ostensibly different types of Jew-hatred.
A perfect example of this mistaken mindset was on display in early September, when Israeli students spending a semester in Poland were attacked outside a Warsaw nightclub. Hearing the victims speaking Hebrew, the perpetrators – who, it transpired, hailed originally from Qatar – shouted, “Free Gaza and f**k Israel,” before beating two of the Israelis to a bloody pulp.
The twin brother of one of the victims posted a photo on Facebook of his hospitalized sibling, along with a denunciation not of the Arab attackers, but of the Polish witnesses who did not come to the Israelis’ aid.
“History is repeating itself,” Barak Kashpizky wrote, “as Poles stand by and watch while people who ‘are not from our nation’ are beating Jews until they lose consciousness.”
The next day, in interviews with Israeli media outlets, Kashpizky said of the incident: “I don’t think it was antisemitic; it was completely nationalistic.”
For this sabra, the word “nationalistic” is familiar; it is used in Hebrew to distinguish Arab terrorism from other violent crimes. Indeed, this man who grew up surrounded by Jews possesses no concept – no personal experience – of antisemitism other than that associated with the Holocaust, including the inaction of Poles. As a result, he was unable to see his brother’s assailants as antisemites, and explained their beastly behavior as motivated by anti-Israel “nationalism.”
Merkel, a shameless deflector, would have approved.