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February 19, 2019 5:53 am

The Other Side of Germany’s Positions on Israel and Antisemitism

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avatar by Manfred Gerstenfeld


The UN General Assembly meeting hall in New York. Photo: Reuters / Brendan McDermid.

The German government’s official policy is that it makes efforts to fight antisemitism. One example they give is by providing security for Jewish institutions. Another official policy is to be friendly towards Israel.

But there are other aspects of German policy that the German government does not make public. These are direct and indirect acts of promoting antisemitism and anti-Israelism.

As far as the promotion of antisemitism is concerned, since 2015, the German government has welcomed many immigrants from Muslim countries. Hundreds of thousands of these immigrants could be antisemites. A study in Bavaria found that more than 50 percent of Iraqi, Syrian, and Afghan immigrants agreed with the statement “Jews have too much influence in the world.” Among Germans, these figures are between 15 percent and 25 percent.

When it comes to Israel, a major example of Germany’s policy is its voting record at the General Assembly of the United Nations. According to the German daily Bild, in recent years the General Assembly accepted more than 500 resolutions against Israel, and not a single one against the Palestinian terror group Hamas.

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In 2014, of all resolutions directed against a specific country, 87 percent were against Israel. In 2016, the number was 77 percent, and in 2017, it was 78 percent. In the United Nations Human Rights Council, more than half of the resolutions were against Israel. In November 2018, of 21 General Assembly resolutions against Israel, 16 were supported by Germany and it abstained on four.

In the previous government, the foreign minister and leader of the socialist party, Sigmar Gabriel, was a frequent anti-Israel inciter. Gabriel accused Israel of apartheid. It took several months before he apologized. When he spoke in January 2018 in Tel Aviv, he falsely stated that he was a friend of Israel. He added that his country had a special commitment to Israel’s security. In the meantime, he was responsible for a huge number of German votes against Israel at the United Nations.

In the current government, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, also a socialist, has often said that Auschwitz inspired him to go into politics. Yet his ministry continues to support the demonization of Israel at the United Nations. The German votes against Israel in November 2018 took place under his responsibility.

This month, under Maas’ leadership, the German Foreign Ministry also sent representatives to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s embassy in Berlin on the occasion of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution. This despite the fact that Iran frequently calls for the destruction of Israel.

The liberal party (FDP), which is in the opposition, recently asked the German government to change its policies at the UN. One of the party’s parliamentarians, Frank Muller-Rosentritt, said that in one year, 21 resolutions have been directed against Israel, while there was only one against Syria. He added that this “disproportion shows that the enemies of Israel instrumentalize the UN to delegitimize the Jewish State.”

The direct and indirect assistance to antisemites and anti-Israel forces not only takes place at the national level, but also at the level of federal states. Establishing statistics on antisemitic incidents are their responsibility. As the national antisemitism commissioner, Felix Klein, has pointed out, many of the published statistics on this subject are misleading. Jewish representatives have often drawn attention to the many incidents caused by Muslim antisemitism, but these are poorly reflected in the government’s statistics. If states do not correctly publish where to search for perpetrators, they are in effect whitewashing or covering up antisemitism.

The approval of schoolbooks is also the responsibility of individual federal state governments. A recent study by two German professors, Samuel Salzborn and Alexander Kurth, investigated antisemitism in German schools. Partly on the basis of an earlier study, they found that with respect to textbooks, Israel is often presented as only negative and the Palestinians as only positive in the fields of geography, history, and politics. They also concluded that Israel is only mentioned in the area of the conflict with the Palestinians. And Israel’s military actions and reactions to Palestinian terrorism are often presented as being as problematic as the terrorism itself.

In view of Germany’s horrible past and problematic present, an in-depth study should be conducted on how the German national government and state governments directly and indirectly promote antisemitism and anti-Israelism.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is the emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank.

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