Monday, 21 July 2008

Anti-Semitism Without Anti-Semites, by Henryk Broder

From the Pajamas Media blog:

"Last month, the Domestic Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag held public hearings on anti-Semitism in Germany. Many of the speakers chose to focus on the "classical" anti-Semitism to be found in what in Germany are euphemistically called "right-wing extremist" milieus, i.e., among skinheads and self-avowed neo-Nazis. The journalist Henryk Broder, however, located the problem elsewhere: namely, in the mainstream "anti-Zionist anti-Semitism" to be found, for instance, among academics … and Bundestag members. Pajamas Media here presents a complete English translation of Henryk Broder’s statement to the Bundestag’s Domestic Affairs Committee."

"(...) Earlier — let’s say at the time of classical anti-Semites like Wilhelm Marr, Karl Lueger, and Adolf Stoecker — everything was plain and simple. There were Jews, there were anti-Semites, and there was anti-Semitism. After 1945, for the well-known reasons, we then had in Germany an anti-Semitism without Jews. And now today we are again confronted by a new phenomenon: an anti-Semitism without anti-Semites. Another new phenomenon is the professional profile of what might be called the "leisure time anti-Semite" who does his regular job during the day, perhaps even in a federal government office, and then in his spare time writes "critical" texts on Israel that appear on obscure anti-Zionist websites. [The reference is to Ludwig Watzal, an official of Germany’s Federal Office for Civic Education (BpB), many of whose articles have been reprinted on the site See [1] here on Watzal. The BpB has resisted calls for Watzal’s dismissal, arguing that the writings in question are not connected to his professional activity. — Translator’s Note] Nobody wants to be an anti-Semite, but the "anti-Zionist" hall of shame is getting increasingly crowded.

Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are two sides of the same coin. If the anti-Semite was convinced that it is not him, the anti-Semite, who is to blame for anti-Semitism, but rather the Jew himself who is to blame, so too is the anti-Zionist convinced that Israel is responsible not only for the suffering of the Palestinians, but also for the hardship it suffers itself. The older persons among you will perhaps remember what a Green Party politician, who is still a member of the Bundestag, said about the Iraqi rockets that were fired at Israel at the time of the first Gulf War in 1991: "The Iraqi rocket attacks are the logical, nearly unavoidable consequence of Israeli policy." [The author of the quote is Green Party Member of Parliament Hans-Christian Ströbele. — Translator’s Note] At the time, the same Green Party politician also opposed the delivery of defensive weapons like Patriot rockets to Israel, because this would, he claimed, lead to an escalation in the hostilities.

Today, some 17 years later, we hear similar remarks about rocket attacks on Israel from southern Lebanon or the Gaza Strip: namely, that they are the logical, nearly unavoidable result of Israeli occupation and that Israel would do well not to react in order to avoid escalating hostilities. The modern anti-Semite pays tribute to Jews who have been dead for 60 years, but he resents it when living Jews take measures to defend themselves. He screams "Beware of the Beginnings!" when a handful of weekend Nazis hold a demonstration in Cottbus, but he justifies the policies of the current Iranian president and defends the continuation of German business with Iran.

Ladies and gentleman, we will not solve the problem of anti-Semitism: not at this hearing nor at the next. (...) If I may in all modesty make a suggestion: leave the good old anti-Semitism to the archaeologists and antiquarians and historians. Devote your attention to the modern anti-Semitism that wears the disguise of anti-Zionism and to its representatives. You will find some of the latter among your own ranks."

Image from the Belgian-Palestinian Association (Brussels-Wallonia) website (background to the poster, which was created by Oxfam Belgium and withdrawn by Oxfam International following a campaign by the Simon Wiesenthal Center).

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