Checking the Facts

Author Tuvia Tenenbom takes a deep look into the refugee communities of Germany

MEMBERS OF a Syrian family eat at a refugee shelter in a former hotel in Berlin in 2016 (photo credit: STEFFI LOOS /REUTERS)
MEMBERS OF a Syrian family eat at a refugee shelter in a former hotel in Berlin in 2016
(photo credit: STEFFI LOOS /REUTERS)
Author Tuvia Tenenbom’s latest oeuvre, Hello, Refugees! – like his previous books – is a gem.
A brilliant journalist, Tenenbom describes his investigation of the situation in Germany surrounding refugees and migrants from North Africa and the Middle East. He is straightforward, fearless, politically incorrect, courageous – and very funny. Indeed, he manages to entertain the reader with hilarious comments and anecdotes while presenting the shocking truth about the disgraceful treatment of refugees in Germany, coupled with the shameful hypocrisy of the political decision-makers with whom the media fully cooperate.
True to his profession, he asks hard questions and presents the facts as they are. As he told the audience at a recent book launch in Jerusalem, “I am a journalist and as a journalist I check what is underneath.”
He visits homes for refugees – finding creative ways to get himself inside where no visitors are allowed – and speaks directly with them, while viewing their dreadful accommodations and learning about their lack of opportunity for a decent future.
He befriends Thawanni, a young refugee who takes her children almost daily to the hospital.
“In this camp, she tells me, diseases are man’s best friend: too many of them around,” he writes.
He asks if her husband kisses her at night. “She laughs. How can he kiss her, not to mention make love to her, when their abode is shared by 498 other people? There is no privacy here… Thawanni shows me the back of her neck, where her skin is gray. How did this happen? Viruses and bacteria in the camp, she says.”
Tenenbom asks to see the restroom. The toilets are dirty and broken, and most have no doors. There is no toilet paper, and none of the faucets works.
There are also dangerous fights at night. The refugees come from “places where one group of people had nothing better to do than slaughter the other group… and now they must spend 24 hours a day with each other, thanks to the generosity of the German government, which put them under one roof. Imagine being one of them. Imagine that the man sleeping in the bed above you just so happened to be the brother of the man who raped your sister and murdered your father.”
So why has Germany accepted more than a million refugees over the past two years?
Tenenbom interviews diverse politicians and laypeople, and says it all comes down to appearances. Germans want to change their image since the Holocaust and prove to the world that they are kind and caring – as opposed to the inhumane Israelis, i.e. Jews.
Indeed, it really is all about appearances. As the author reminds the reader, in March 2016, the European Union, via German Chancellor Angela Merkel, agreed to give Turkey more than $6 billion to tighten its borders and prevent migrant boats from reaching European shores.
Meanwhile, the politically correct media and politicians hide the truth about refugee violence. For instance, on New Year’s Eve 2016, in Cologne, “thousands of men, who according to eyewitnesses looked ‘Arab’ or ‘North African,’… started ‘playing’ with German women,” beating and raping them. Although more than a thousand complaints were filed, it was mainly social media that reported it. Mainstream media, according to Tenenbom, hid the facts, fearing that otherwise the far-Right would win the next election.
In other words, the journalists were using their platform as an “educational tool, where facts matter much less than ‘proper thinking.’”
Tenenbom’s interviews and experiences are fascinating. One chapter is titled “Journalists Get Free Breakfast and Ask No Questions.” Another, “Enemy of the People,” is heartbreaking, focusing on a best-selling author of fiction who made a public statement misquoted by the “lying media” about the refugees and concentration camps. Since then, all publishing contracts with him were broken and the man cannot walk down the street without suffering abuse.
“A boycotted author,” Tenenbom says. “In the old days they burned books in this country; these days they erase authors.”
Tenenbom himself had a hard time getting his books published. “In America, they don’t like controversial,” he said at the launch. In Germany, one publisher agreed to accept Tenenbom’s manuscript only if the attacks on Jews were presented as attacks on Israel.
In fact, rampant antisemitism in Germany is another major issue presented throughout Hello, Refugees! For example, after coming across antisemitic material in a magazine bought at a hotel bar – “racist propaganda... available to you for a small fee at a normal hotel in today’s Germany” – Tenenbom concludes: “Welcome refugees. Get the hell out of here, Jews.”
Tenenbom, a native-born Israeli raised in the ultra-Orthodox community of Bnei Brak, lives in New York and spends a good amount of time in Germany. Nevertheless, when he leaves for Israel after investigating the refugee situation, he concedes, “I’ll miss the Germans. After everything is said and done, I must admit that I love them. Don’t ask me why. It is the fate of the Jew, don’t you know, to love those who hate him.”
A disturbing comment indeed. To a proud Jew who does not love those who hate him, it’s offensive and lacks dignity – Jewish dignity. Each to his own, but unless he’s joking, it’s hard to understand how he could feel that way. For that one would need to consult a psychiatrist.