It was a moment of bittersweet optimism: at the Catholicentage in Stuttgart, at a panel discussion on Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank. Fadi Qur’an, a Palestinian activist with the international network Avaaz, spoke. “Here we are Palestinian, Israeli, Jew and German, and we all advocate similar values, and we all talk about a similar vision of equality between people,” Fadi said.
The event was entitled: “Walls, People, Courage: A People Report from Israel and Palestine”. The “man from Israel” in this case was me. In addition, there was a scientific classification by the German political scientist D. Muriel Aseberg of the Foundation for Science and Policy. In the foreground, the mediator presented the official Israeli position on the wall.
I must tell how the people of Israel, where I was born and have lived the majority of my life, experience the wall. I previously asked Israeli friends to benefit from a wider range of experiences. They saw it the way you did: As an Israeli, you don’t notice the wall. So I shared how, as a kid, I thought we needed a wall. And how many of us think it might bring security, and even peace, to the region. But we’ve found that after 20 years with the Wall, neither has happened. She stressed that separation, which is still the guiding principle of the center-left in Israel, does not bring the desired security. It goes hand in hand with oppression and violence. And no wall too big can stop him from hitting us Israelis.
Critical positions are no longer considered Jewish positions
Without apparently knowing the content of the event, Alan Posner recently built a strange narrative around it in Die Welt: Catholic Day 2022 is anti-Semitic, according to Posner, because it deals specifically with the Holocaust and anti-Semitic oaths. – But not with “anti-Semitism with Islamic and left-wing motives and anti-Israel.” According to him, Catholics remained “attached to the Church’s tradition in matters of anti-Semitism”. And it seems that they were not critical of leftists and Muslims enough – or that they criticized the Nazis relatively strongly. As an exception: in the history books, the role of the church looked a little different, especially during the Nazi era.
Posner complained that as an Israeli, only I was invited – not an active representative or advocate of the State of Israel and its policies. If you assume that you have to design each event as a performance confrontation between “both sides”, that might make sense. However, Posner’s lawsuit is part of a phenomenon that already appears to be structurally well-established in this country: the radical criticism of the State of Israel, even if expressed by Jews, should not be taken as a legitimate or genuinely Jewish position. Situations like mine are instead being linked to anti-Semitism.
Examples of this pattern are also provided by reporting on the case of “Humboldt 3,” a group that disrupted an event with an Israeli parliamentarian at Berlin’s Humboldt University in 2017. Tagesspiegel reported on “Berlin anti-Semitism” — without a single indication that The alleged culprits motivated by hatred of Jews were Israeli Jews and Palestinians from Gaza: they were all influenced by Israeli policy, and who protested only in this context against the representative of the latter.
German media withhold facts and opinions
Three years later, BZ newspaper wrote in the same vein about the subsequent lawsuit against a “Slovakian” and a “Romanian” along with a “stateless Palestinian”. There was no mention of a Jewish Israeli with a Slovak passport and an Israeli Jewish woman on a Romanian passport. All three are repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism in the text, solely on the basis of their political activism.
In this way, the difference of opinion between Israelis and Jews in the context of the German debate is erased. At the same time, any action directed against the State of Israel can be portrayed as an attack on Jewish life in general.
But facts that may not fit the prevailing narratives on the subject are also ignored. First, there are Jews who question the legitimacy of the “Jewish state” – particularly as a reaction to anti-Semitism. But also that many young Israeli Jews these days are taking advantage of every opportunity to obtain European passports, because we feel neither comfortable nor safe in the “Jewish Refuge” that they often boast about. Not only because of the lack of peace, but also because of increasingly reactionary policies.
Unconditional support for Israeli policy shields those reactionary tendencies from criticism – and that’s the bottom line no It benefits all the Jewish people. Ultimately, this has little to do with historical “compensation”.
Israelis are seen as disrupting German efforts to combat anti-Semitism
Expressing such attitudes is seen as a disturbance in the German struggle against anti-Semitism. Felix Klein, the federal commissioner for Jewish life in Germany and combating anti-Semitism, said it himself: Left-wing Israelis in Germany should be more sensitive. Sometimes our political activity is presented as a threat to the Jews living in Germany – as if we were not one of them.
As a result, we are expected to remain silent while people who know the Israeli reality only from afar or as tourists whitewash the system there in an unrealistic and idealistic manner. And work to ensure that it continues to enjoy the full support of the Federal Republic. They also do the latter every day within the framework of publicly funded organizations such as the Amadeo Antonio Foundation or in the form of offices of many anti-Semitic officers, most of whom are non-Jews.
Or publicly, as with Posner in the text in which he intends to protect the State of Israel from the Catholic day by claiming that the “democracy, religious freedom, and tolerance” of Jews in Israel would be an example. If true, there would be far fewer angry left-wing Israelis and organizations staunchly opposed to him.
For us, the fundamental question is whether a country can be considered a democracy while millions live under its stateless politics, without any right to participate. But even the most moderate observers – certainly among them the liberal center in Israel – have seen Israeli democracy in existential danger for years. Indeed, one can only dream of the rule of law. Religious freedom applies to Israeli conditions only insofar as the Orthodox Jewish religion can be freely practiced. Equal treatment for other religious denominations – including Jewish denominations! – step away. There is hardly any talk of tolerance in a country where the national flag of the Palestinians, who after all make up a fifth of the population, is being demolished illegally but systematically by security forces.
culmination of insult
These are all topics that might be familiar if one followed the Israeli press. However, these problems are covered in the German public by a comfortable imagination. It is against this background that we, who come from Israel and sometimes carry radical criticism with us to Germany, are declared insane. It is clear that Germany does not like our experience, our criticism and our suffering.
But in reality, the Israeli reality is destroying the lives of human beings on a daily basis, especially the lives of Palestinians, but also the lives of Israeli Jews. The current Israeli situation does not offer a bright future for our loved ones. It made many of us migrate. The unconditional support he has in this country is the real offense – not our criticism.
As if it weren’t absurd enough that our decisive efforts in the country that witnessed the largest anti-Semitic mass murder should be reinterpreted as an anti-Semitic threat, it also means that there is such a thing as a united Jewish opinion, a legitimate united political one with which Judaism somehow or with another. An intellectual figure known only from anti-Semitic stories. In Hebrew one says: “Sin added to crime.”