Merkel Can’t Make It Right
On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for “intensive action” against antisemitism.
“Antisemitism is more pervasive than we imagine and that is why we must act intensively against it,” Merkel declared in her weekly video podcast. “We must be specifically careful with young people who come from countries where hatred of Israel and Jews is widespread … We have seen manifestations of antisemitism in several schools and meeting places by young people, against which every adult must act… We can argue about this issue but it should also be clear: [antisemitism] has no place in our society … we must simply set clear limits.”
Did Merkel seriously only discover this now?
Already in October 2015, four major German security agencies warned that Germany was “importing Islamic extremism, Arab antisemitism, national and ethnic conflicts of other peoples as well as a different societal and legal understanding.” They also made it clear that “German security agencies … will not be in the position to solve these imported security problems and thereby the arising reactions from Germany’s population.” Still, this dire warning cry, unusual as it was and very telling of the limits that the German intelligence and security services face, did not cause Merkel to substantially change her open-door policy. While Germany has introduced border controls, 2,000 asylum claims are still processed in Germany every day.
However, in her video podcast, Merkel did not refer to any particular countries, nor did she mention the asylum seekers in her country as the root of this antisemitism. In politically correct Germany, the political establishment prefers to tiptoe around the issues, instead of calling them by their rightful name.
Germany is also at an all-time high terror alert. Hans-Georg Maassen, head of Germany’s BfV domestic security agency, claimed that his office was aware of almost 8,000 Islamic radicals in Germany. He said all of these extremists advocate violence to advance their goals, with some trying to win over migrants, and his office receives one or two “fairly concrete tips” of planned terrorist activity per week.
Usually, when a European country is on high terror alert, Jews are almost certainly targeted one way or another. This has been the case multiple times in France — the Hyper Cacher terrorist attack one year ago,and the 2012 Toulouse Jewish school massacre come to mind — and in Denmark, where a Jewish guard was shot at a synagogue last winter.
There is something almost schizophrenic about Merkel’s statements. She opened Germany up to an influx of 1 million asylum seekers, most of whom she must have been perfectly aware came from “countries where hatred of Israel and Jews is widespread.” If she did not want antisemitism, should she not have considered this fact somewhat earlier?
Merkel’s statement was eerily similar to the declarations that German officials made after the sexual assaults against women in Cologne and a number of other German cities on New Year’s Eve that they would not tolerate such primitive attitudes toward women. But again — what good does it do to air such gratuitous statements if your main response is to advocate a “code of conduct” for women that they should stay “an arm’s length” away from men, as the mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, so infamously suggested?
Merkel said that “we must set clear limits” to antisemitism. Just what does that mean? Her security and intelligence services have declared that they cannot cope. Does she think that antisemitism will disappear if only her authorities go out and instruct people to “play nice”? Neighboring France has had a severe problem with Muslim antisemitism for two decades and it is growing stronger than ever. French Jews leaving in the thousands. Merkel should pay attention, because that is likely how the situation will play out in her own country very soon.
Merkel’s belated and empty lament of the exponentially rising antisemitism in her country was nothing more than an attempt at damage control. But the situation has already gone beyond the possibility of damage control — not only in Germany, but also in the rest of Europe. Most Jews will leave, in the manner of French Jews, and no amount of empty statements by Merkel or French President Francois Hollande, who recently called it “intolerable” that Jews should not be able to wear a kippah in the streets of France, are going to change those facts. European governments are struggling immensely to deal with the scourge of terrorism and the German security agencies are not the only ones in Europe to have recently stated that they are stretched beyond their capabilities.
Only fools would believe that European authorities, including German ones, will ever be able to bring security to the Jews of Europe.
Judith Bergman is a writer and political analyst living in Israel. This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.