Antisemitism, from the streets of Berlin to the streets of Ramallah - opinion

Let’s shine an unfriendly spotlight on the Berlin streets that glorify Jew-haters. But let’s also realize that the streets of Ramallah are far more consequential than the streets of Berlin.

Palestinians in Ramallah hold posters showing Dalal Mugrabi, the leader of a Palestinian terror squad that hijacked an Israeli bus in 1978 and slaughtered 36 of its passengers, during a celebration marking her release from prison in 2008. (photo credit: ISSAM RIMAWI / FLASH 90)
Palestinians in Ramallah hold posters showing Dalal Mugrabi, the leader of a Palestinian terror squad that hijacked an Israeli bus in 1978 and slaughtered 36 of its passengers, during a celebration marking her release from prison in 2008.
(photo credit: ISSAM RIMAWI / FLASH 90)

A new study has found that there are “at last 290 streets or squares” in Berlin that are named after individuals who openly expressed antisemitic views.

That’s probably the record for the most streets named in honor of Jew-haters. Wondering which city is second? I would put my bet on Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Authority.

And I would argue that the street names in Ramallah are a much more serious problem than the offensive names in Berlin.

A major street in Berlin, Martinlutherstrasse, honors the founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther. In his 1543 book, On the Jews and Their Lies, Luther proposed that all synagogues, Jewish schools and Jewish homes be set on fire, that Jewish property be confiscated, and that rabbis be forbidden to speak publicly.

There’s also a Berlin street named after Bishop F.K. Otto Dibelius. In the 1930s, he advocated restricting the number of Jews in various jobs and preventing Jewish immigration. Regarding Nazi violence, he declared his hope that “the hour may come soon when violence is no longer necessary.”

Palestinian students supporting Hamas stand next to mock Hamas rockets during a rally celebrating their winning of the student council election at Birzeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 23, 2015. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)Palestinian students supporting Hamas stand next to mock Hamas rockets during a rally celebrating their winning of the student council election at Birzeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 23, 2015. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

Another street in the German capital is named after Heinrich von Treitschke, the 19th-century nationalist rabble-rouser who coined the phrase “The Jews are our misfortune,” which later became a popular Nazi slogan.

I tip my hat to German political scientist Felix Sassmannshausen for publicizing these outrageous choices of names for streets in Berlin.

For a Middle Eastern parallel, take a look at the Palestinian Authority’s capital city of Ramallah. The street on which the PA’s headquarters are located is named after one of the infamous Hamas bomb-makers, Yahyah Ayyash. Credited with the refinement of suicide attacks, the attacks Ayyash orchestrated killed at least 90 Israelis. The PA has also named streets after him in Jenin and Beit Lahia, and a square in Jericho.

Across the street from PA headquarters in Ramallah is a square named to honor Dalal Mughrabi, leader of the terror squad that hijacked an Israeli bus in 1978 and slaughtered 36 of its passengers.

There’s another Dalal Mughrabi Street in nearby El-Bireh, as well as schools in six different PA towns named after the mass murderer.

Ramallah also has a “Martyr Saddam Hussein Square,” to glorify the Iraqi dictator who sponsored countless terrorist attacks against Israeli Jews and who launched Scud missiles at Israel in the first Gulf War. The PA city of Kalkilya has a 20-foot statue of Saddam.

The PA town of Surda-Abu Qash already has a street named after Muhammed Halabi, who stabbed two rabbis to death in Jerusalem on October 3. The village of Bruqin has a street named after Omar Abu Lila, who murdered Gal Kaidan and Rabbi Achiad Ettinger (a father of 12) at the Ariel Junction. The list of such streets goes on and on.

According to the invaluable research of Palestinian Media Watch, there are at least 32 Palestinian Arab schools named after terrorists. There’s also a school in El-Bireh named after Haj Amin el-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, who was indicted as a Nazi collaborator; and two in Gaza named after Hassan Salameh, the mufti’s right-hand man and fellow-Nazi collaborator.

So while it’s awful that those Berlin streets are named after Jew-haters, let’s appreciate the contrast between the two cities. Those Germans were anti-Jewish propagandists, not murderers. They spread hatred of Jews but – as far as we know – they didn’t murder anybody. By contrast, the streets, squares and schools in Ramallah and other PA cities are named after individuals who did not just hate Jews – they murdered Jews, for the crime of being Jews.

I doubt that many Germans today know who von Treitschke or Dibelius were, or what Luther thought of Jews. By contrast, every Palestinian Arab old enough to read a newspaper or watch a television program knows who the streets in their capital and other towns are named after – because the PA uses its media daily to glorify them for murdering Jews.

The German government does not present von Treitschke or Dibelius as role models for today’s German youth. But that’s what the PA is doing with the killers whom it glorifies.

So by all means, let’s shine an unfriendly spotlight on the Berlin streets that glorify Jew-haters. But let’s also realize that the streets of Ramallah are far more consequential than the streets of Berlin. Because from the streets of Ramallah emerge the young men and women who don’t merely hate Jews, but literally seek to follow in the bloody footsteps of the people after whom their streets are named.

Stephen M. Flatow is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terrorism.