Monitoring Report April 2017
The Israelization of anti-Semitism
Growing anti-Semitism in Europe and Germany’s special responsibility
Anti-Semitism in Europe is growing. In a working meeting in the German Parliament organized by the “Initiative 27 Januar” i, the EU Anti-Semitism Commissioner, Katharina von Schnurbein, pointed out that, in some countries, such as France and Great Britain, for example, incidents carried out against Jews increased by as much as 36% last year. And yet, parallel to this shocking phenomenon, efforts on the part of state and civil organizations to better study and understand modern anti-Semitism with the goal of limiting and even reversing it are on the increase. A clear definition of anti-Semitism is indispensable to achieving this goal.
What exactly do we understand when we hear the term Anti-Semitism?
The article by Andrew Baker ii of the American Jewish Committee, a globally active Jewish organization, gives a good historical overview of the efforts to establish a working definition of modern anti-Semitism that is recognized on government levels and practically implemented. The Committee’s efforts in this regard have been commendable. After working out and partially implementing a definition at the EU-level – and the subsequent revocation of the same – 31 member states of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) agreed on a working definition of anti-Semitism at their conference in May 2016 in Bucharest. The definition includes illustrations of how modern anti-Semitism is, or might be, manifested. It is worthy of note iii that 7 of the 11 illustrations relate directly to the Jewish state of Israel - experts speak of the anti-Zionist form of anti-Semitism or of the Israelization of anti-Semitism iv.
Anti-Zionist anti-Semitism in the foreground
In their broschure, Anti-Semitism in political extremism. Ideological foundations and forms of Argumentation, the German department for the protection of the Constitution (BfV – Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) states: “Currently, anti-Zionist anti-Semitism is in the foreground – a form of anti-Semitism which goes beyond the political arena. It finds expression from people who would never condone racial anti-Semitism. In this construction, anti-Semitic resentment is projected on the state of Israel. Its existence becomes a basic evil and is declared to be a threat to peace. Anti-Zionist anti-Semitism negates Israel’s right to exist and defames the Jewish state in that it is accused of engaging in a “war of destruction” and of having a policy of “annihilation”. In summary, it is the three “Ds” that allow for a differentiation between criticism of Israel and anti-Zionist anti-Semitism: De-legitimization, Demonization and Double Standards.”v In an answer to a small poll taken by MdB Volker Beck (Bündnis 90/Green Party)vi , the German Government accepts this definition of anti-Zionist anti-Semitism as its own. vii That means that the German Government knows that anti-Zionism is, in fact, anti-Semitism. And that is news we can welcome with all of our hearts!
The inherent danger of this modern form of anti-Semitism, in contrast to the “Jews among the nations”, is it’s differentiation from racist anti-Jewish sentiment or the secondary anti-Semitism common among right-wing extremists (hard or soft denial of the Holocaust). This modern form is not nearly as socially stigmatized and has found its way deep into the political and social mainstream – where it is proving to be a dangerously strong integrative force. The sociologist, Klaus Holz says it this way: “Anti-Zionist anti-Semitism provides a meeting place for the Islamist, the right-wing radical, the Marxist-Leninist and the anti-globalization anti-Semite.”viii
Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism among refugees and Moslems
Against the backdrop of the increasing number of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionistic crimes committed by German as well as non-German Moslems in Germany, one concrete answer of the German Government to the small poll by the Green Party mentioned above becomes especially noteworthy.
That answer was the rejection of the recommendation by the government’s Independent Expert Commission on Anti-Semitism to establish a sub-category to the anti-Semitic crime statistics gathered from police and secret service reports which would record whether the perpetrator had an immigration background, and if so, what that background was. And this in spite of the fact that, in a 2011 study published by the German Ministry of the Interior, the statement is made that: “German and non-German Moslems express a significantly greater prejudice against Jews than non-Moslem Germans.”ix
In light of the flood of refugees and the anticipated increase in anti-Semitic crimes carried out by immigrants and asylum seekers who grew up in cultures with a long-standing tradition of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, one can only conclude that the German Government simply does not seem to WANT to recognize or acknowledge this problematic issue. x That is also how retired Professor of International Relations, Bassam Tibi, himself from Syria, sees the “just-don’t-want-to-face-it” attitude of the Germans and their political representatives regarding Islamic anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism among refugees. xi
German efforts in the right direction
On other levels, German politics play a very positive role and are doing justice to the historical mandate to be a leader in the battle against anti-Semitism. In 2016, under the umbrella of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), Germany attempted to have the IHRA’s working definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the 57 OSCE member states. In a shining example of diplomacy, Germany would have succeeded had not Russia hindered the measure from receiving the required unanimous vote by being the only nation to raise its voice against it. The other side of the coin is the fact that all of the other 56 OSCE member states agree with the working definition of anti-Semitism, and that includes the statements about anti-Zionism contained therein. And that is great!
This should obligate Germany to present and articulate this stand in Brussels and on the floor of the UNO on the one hand, and on the other, to call on the other OSCE member states to do the same. xii Professor Manfred Gerstenfeld presents the valid argument that, with their often one-sided and discriminatory policies and stands against Israel, both of these multinational organizations make themselves guilty of violating the very definition of anti-Semitism they have professed to agree with. xiii
There is still room to grow in the implementation of the working definition – not everything that sparkles is a diamond
It is amazing how clearly recognized anti-Zionistic and anti-Semitic attitudes and views can be brushed under the rug so quickly - especially when other interests come into the picture. Take the financing of the Palestinian Authority for example. Money flows to the PA through Berlin and Brussels with their full knowledge that “Martyr” pensions are being paid to terrorists – with no significant protest coming forth from either Berlin or Brussels. xiv Or consider the official visits of high-level Iranian delegations and politicians (Javad Zarif in June 2016, or a delegation of the Majlis - the Iranian Parlament - in Berlin in March of 2017). In spite of the fact that Iran resolutely denies the Holocaust and refuses to soften its official national doctrine calling for the destruction of Israel, and in spite of Germany’s clear statement of their conditions for pursuing “friendly relations under the condition of recognizing Israel’s right to exist”, relatively normal diplomatic visits are taking place and economic business deals are being made. Both of these are morally wrong, undermine other progress being made in the battle against anti-Semitism and add an unjustified and unnecessary burden to the relationship with Israel.
There is also a lot of catching up to do in implementing the recommendations of the Expert Commission regarding the battle against anti-Semitism. A second Expert Commission report will be presented to the German Parliament in this legislative period. Its central recommendation will be the creation of an official government position of Anti-Semitism Commissioner. Ideally, the position would be based on the French model and report to government Ministers. In the best case scenario, the post would be placed at a high level in the chancellery, if that is not possible, then a bit lower in the Ministry of the Interior. The Commissioner would be responsible for monitoring and coordinating the battle against anti-Semitism and for reporting to and advising the government regarding this issue. The Commissioner would also be an important contact point for civilian organizations and civil initiatives active in this arena. Katharina von Schnurbein, a German in the European Commission, serves as a good role model.
viii Klaus Holz, Die Gegenwart des Antisemitismus. Islamistische, demokratische und antizionistische Judenfeindschaft, Hamburg 2005, S. 82.
ix Bundesministerium des Innern (Hrsg), Lebenswelten junger Muslime in Deutschland, Berlin 2011, S. 219.