Don’t Blame Germany’s Commissioner for Jewish Life for Telling the Truth about Anti-Semitism in His Country

In an interview on Saturday, Felix Klein, Germany’s “commissioner for Jewish life and the fight against anti-Semitism,” stated that he “cannot advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere or at all times in Germany” in light of the frequency of anti-Semitic attacks. German public figures, led by the popular newsmagazine Bild, have loudly criticized Klein and encouraged German Gentiles to wear kippot in solidarity. Defending Klein, Andrew Mark Bennett contends that he was not encouraging cowardice but simply stating the facts. Bennett has less patience for the wave of sympathizers:

“The kippah belongs to Germany,” declared Bild’s editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt. It’s a nice sentiment, but do the facts support such a claim? And what about the human being wearing the kippah? Does he belong to Germany, too? Even if he does not belong, what about the duty of the state to ensure his religious freedom and personal security? . . . Bild offered a cut-out kippah for Germans to wear in solidarity with Jews. The handful who don the cartoonish paper kippah can congratulate themselves for supporting Jewish life in Germany—without ever bothering to engage with an actual kippah-wearing Jew. This kippah-without-a-Jew is stripped of its traditional (and gendered) significance into a prop for asserting tolerant liberalism.

I do not need or want anyone to rebuke Klein. I want Germany to recognize, exactly as Klein has done, that the average kippah-wearing Jew has hidden his kippah under a hat in Germany for years. . . .

Today, various “neutrality” laws in Germany prohibit state employees in schools and in courts from wearing a kippah in the performance of their public-facing duties. The push for such provisions, buoyed by judicial approval, is only growing. The imagined need for “strengthening religious and ideological neutrality” is apparently of vastly greater importance than a Jew’s religious freedom. Furthermore, these laws tell us plainly that our kippah is not neutral, [but rather] alien to German law and education. . . .

This state intolerance of the kippah is not unconnected from the anti-kippah threats in the streets.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Religion, German Jewry, Germany

What Donald Trump Gets Right about Israel and the Arabs

Oct. 17 2019

With a brisk history of American policy toward the Jewish state, Michael Doran highlights the failure of those who have seen a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict as paramount to U.S. interests, and the success of those who have instead made a clear-eyed assessment of Middle Eastern geopolitics. Too often, writes Doran, “Israel’s conflict with the Arabs has functioned as a screen onto which outsiders project their own psychodramas”: a skewed perspective that led to the failed Oslo Accords and to the misguided condemnations of American moves like the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem. (Free registration required.)

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Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, US-Israel relations