Study reveals 20% of Germans are anti-Semitic

German government-funded study shows nearly one fifth of Germans hate Jews.

A German neo-Nazi at a rally in Remagen 311 (R) (photo credit: Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters)
A German neo-Nazi at a rally in Remagen 311 (R)
(photo credit: Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters)
BERLIN – Latent anti-Semitism affects one in five Germans, according to the findings, announced on Monday, of a two-year inquiry in to modern anti-Semitism commissioned by the German government.
The 202-page study, titled “Anti-Semitism in Germany,” covered a wide spectrum of behavior, including hatred of the Jewish state within the Left movement, as well as Islamic loathing of Israel and Jews, particularly by Iran’s regime and the Turkish media.
Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, a senior research fellow with the Brussels-based European Foundation for Democracy and an expert on Islamicfueled anti-Semitism, was part of the 10-member commission. He told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that “the experts came to the conclusion that the ideology of the Iranian regime is anti- Semitic.”
According to the report, Iran’s anti-Semitic ideology not only manifests itself in propaganda within the country, but also influences Germany.
The political head of Iran is a spiritual figure for many extremist Muslims, the report continues, and Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader in Iran, is cited as the sponsor of the Islamic Center in Hamburg.
Wahdat-Hagh backs this up, saying that Iran supports foreign anti-Semitic entities “militarily, financially and ideologically.” He cited the examples of Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
According to one commission member, Dr. Juliane Wetzel, hyperbolic criticism of Israel – an expression of anti-Semitism – exists among 40 to 50 percent of the German population.
However, Dr. Clemens Heni, a leading German scholar of contemporary German anti-Semitism, said Wetzel plays down the widespread form of anti-Israel anti-Semitism in the Federal Republic.
He told the Post on Tuesday, “According to a 2003 poll by the European Commission, 65% of Germans see Israel as the biggest threat on a worldwide scale. In fact, the numbers are probably even higher, over 80% at least, [of those] who have more or less [of] an anti-Israel stand. The reports ignores this, as well as the term ‘Islamofascism,’ which is an important term to understand the pro-Nazi attitude of many Muslim and Arab anti-Semites.”
Heni, who was not a member of the commission, faulted the study for ignoring leading scholars in the field such as Robert S. Wistrich, Jeffrey Herf, Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer.
Though hatred directed toward the Jewish state has mushroomed in Germany, no Israeli experts were included in the commission.
While considerable space was devoted to extremist right-wing anti-Semitism, Wahdat-Hagh said the commission also investigated the “anti-Semitic content of the Turkish press in Germany.” According to the report, roughly 90% of documented anti-Semitic crimes originate from the extreme Right and neo-Nazi groups.
Soccer matches are also a frequent source of anti-Semitic diatribes. Fans have chanted “Jews belong in the gas chamber,” “Bring back Auschwitz,” and “Synagogues must burn,” at sporting events.
Additionally, the study revealed that the word “Jew” is used as a pejorative term among German pupils to denigrate fellow students.
Dr. Peter Longerich, a historian of the Nazi period and a member of the commission, said, “anti-Semitism in our society is based on widespread prejudices, cliches with deep roots and pure ignorance about everything to do with Jews and Judaism.”
Results of a poll released on Wednesday by Stern magazine showed that one in five young Germans has no idea that Auschwitz was a Nazi death camp, AFP reported.
Although 90 percent of those asked did know it was a concentration camp, the poll for Thursday’s edition of Stern revealed that Auschwitz meant nothing to 21 percent of 18-29 year olds.