The death threats come with the job

Representing Germany's Jews can be a dangerous business.

charlotte knobloch 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
charlotte knobloch 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, Charlotte Knobloch, has long been the target of death threats, hate mail and anti-Semitic Web postings. All previous council presidents required bodyguards, as does Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor and the first female president of the 105,000-member Jewish community. "When I look at the Internet or at my mail, there are people who would like to see me in the cemetery," she told Germany's largest newspaper, Bild, in an interview on November 9. On Thursday, Yediot Aharonot reported that the threats were ongoing. A source with close ties to Knobloch told The Jerusalem Post, "There are always people who are writing letters" threatening Knobloch. Her security needs are comparable to those of Chancellor Angela Merkel, i.e., the highest in Germany, the source said. Knobloch, who was born in Munich in 1932, witnessed the Kristallnacht violence in 1938 and survived the Nazi period in hiding. At the ground-breaking ceremony she attended for the Munich Synagogue in 2003, neo-Nazis planned to detonate explosives. German police intervened, arresting 10 hardcore neo-Nazis and seizing two handgrenades, 1.7 kilograms of TNT, and 14 kilograms of other explosives. Knobloch spoke on Wednesday at the dedication of a new synagogue in Schwerin, a small northeastern city, whose synagogue was set ablaze 70 years ago during the state-sponsored anti-Jewish terror campaign. The Schwerin Jewish community numbers more than 1,000, the overwhelming majority of whom immigrated to Germany following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The synagogue and the revival of Jewish life represented a "late triumph" over those "who at one time betrayed, persecuted and destroyed us," she said at the ceremony. She stressed the danger of mainstream anti-Semitism and said subtle, anti-Jewish prejudices were expressed behind closed doors when alluding to the investment bank Lehman Brothers, which recently went bankrupt. According to Knobloch, this type of anti-Semitism was a telling example of how "the myth of the world Jewish conspiracy is propagated." While extreme right-wing anti-Semitism remains prevalent, mainstream anti-Semitism among the liberal-left population has been rapidly spreading, and its principal target is Israel. An ongoing row over the defamation of Israel prompted Knobloch to align herself with the prominent German-Jewish journalist Henryk M. Broder in a high-profile legal dispute involving Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, the daughter of the late Heinz Galinski, who served as president of the Central Council of Jews. In a Deutschlandradio interview last year, Hecht-Galinski said, "The Jewish-Israel lobby with its active network is extended over the world" to clamp down on criticism of Israel. Broder wrote that Hecht-Galinski was propagating "anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli statements." Hecht-Galinski sued Broder. A Cologne court will issue a verdict early next month regarding Broder's right to designate a fellow Jew's statements as anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist. According to the Cologne Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper on Tuesday, the court appears to be favoring the arguments of Broder's attorney, Nathan Gelbart, who argued that Broder's free speech rights were being violated.