All Too Slowly, Germany Is Waking Up to Contemporary Anti-Semitism

Jan. 19 2018

The German parliament is currently considering a bill that will punish anti-Semitic activity and that acknowledges the specific problem of anti-Semitism among migrants from Muslim countries—even allowing authorities to revoke their residency rights. Toward the end of 2017, the Bundestag also gave legal status to a definition of anti-Semitism that includes “placing collective responsibility on the Jewish people for Israel’s actions.” But, writes Eldad Beck, Germany still has a long way to go:

The German legal establishment’s problematic approach toward the issue of anti-Semitism was demonstrated this week in the city of Wuppertal, when the high court upheld a lower court’s ruling defining the firebombing of a synagogue as a criminal rather than as an anti-Semitic act. The firebombing in question was perpetrated by a group of three young Palestinians living in Germany in the summer of 2014, as Operation Protective Edge was raging in Gaza. Anti-Semitic riots were raging across Germany, drawing mainly Arab and Muslim crowds. The law-enforcement authorities failed to respond in any way.

When the perpetrators who hurled Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in Wuppertal were apprehended, they claimed it was an act of “protest against Israeli policy” and not, heaven forbid, an act of anti-Semitism, which would result in harsher punishment. The German judges sided with the perpetrators’ arguments time and time again, despite vocal protests from the German Jewish community. . . .

There is no doubt, [however], that Germany has become more cognizant in recent years, albeit in a limited fashion, of the fact that anti-Semitism is still alive and well in the country. Similarly, there is more acceptance of the fact that hatred of Israel is tantamount to hatred of Jews. . . . It is important and right to confront the anti-Semitism that exists in the Muslim Arab immigrant community, but it is a mistake to ignore the fact that anti-Semitism is still quite prevalent among large portions of mainstream German society—portions whose residency cannot be revoked.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Anti-Semitism, Germany, Immigration, Politics & Current Affairs

 

The Proper Jewish Response to the Pittsburgh Massacre

Nov. 21 2018

In the Jewish tradition, it is commonplace to add the words zikhronam li-vrakhah (may their memory be for a blessing) after the names of the departed, but when speaking of those who have been murdered because they were Jews, a different phrase is used: Hashem yikom damam—may God avenge their blood. Meir Soloveichik explains:

The saying reflects the fact that when it comes to mass murderers, Jews do not believe that we must love the sinner while hating the sin; in the face of egregious evil, we will not say the words ascribed to Jesus on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We believe that a man who shoots up a synagogue knows well what he does; that a murderer who sheds the blood of helpless elderly men and women knows exactly what he does; that one who brings death to those engaged in celebrating new life knows precisely what he does. To forgive in this context is to absolve; and it is, for Jews, morally unthinkable.

But the mantra for murdered Jews that is Hashem yikom damam bears a deeper message. It is a reminder to us to see the slaughter of eleven Jews in Pennsylvania not only as one terrible, tragic moment in time, but as part of the story of our people, who from the very beginning have had enemies that sought our destruction. There exists an eerie parallel between Amalek, the tribe of desert marauders that assaulted Israel immediately after the Exodus, and the Pittsburgh murderer. The Amalekites are singled out by the Bible from among the enemies of ancient Israel because in their hatred for the chosen people, they attacked the weak, the stragglers, the helpless, those who posed no threat to them in any way.

Similarly, many among the dead in Pittsburgh were elderly or disabled; the murderer smote “all that were enfeebled,” and he “feared not God.” Amalek, for Jewish tradition, embodies evil incarnate in the world; we are commanded to remember Amalek, and the Almighty’s enmity for it, because, as Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik explained, the biblical appellation refers not only to one tribe but also to our enemies throughout the ages who will follow the original Amalek’s example. To say “May God avenge their blood” is to remind all who hear us that there is a war against Amalek from generation to generation—and we believe that, in this war, God is not neutral.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Amalek, Anti-Semitism, Judaism, Religion & Holidays