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Being Leftist and Anti-Semitic in Germany - Susanne Urban

Being Leftist and Anti-Semitic in Germany - Susanne Urban

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31/12/09 12:58 PMBeing Leftist and Anti-Semitic in Germany - Susanne UrbanPage 1 of 10http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-32.htm
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No. 32 1 May 2005 / 22 Nissan 5765 
Being Leftist and Anti-Semitic in Germany
Susanne Urban
After the reunification of Germany, 1989 surveysindicated that there was much more anti-Semitism inWest Germany than in East Germany. This was a fallacyarising from the distinction between anti-Semitism andanti-Zionism. Since then, Eastern German "anti-Zionism"has merged with Western German "anti-Semitism" into ahomogeneous whole.Since 2000, the German Left has voiced its solidarity andsupport for the Palestinians and for suicide bombers. Thisis an extension of the New Left anti-Zionism of the 1960s,with the same structural motifs and expressions.There is also a major trend in the German Left of Nazifying and demonizing Israel, opening the door toproclaiming Jews to be the source of the world's evils.In October 2004, the Dutch writer and filmmaker Leon de Winter said in aninterview to the German liberal newspaper 
Sueddeutsche Zeitung 
: "Theold poison of anti-Semitism is very much alive.... I will remain a stranger onthis continent.... I fear that in Europe something will once more be doneagainst the Jews."
1
Common Ground between Right and Left
Today's German anti-Semitism is deeply connected to the Nazi period andthe wish to expunge guilt and responsibility for dealing with it. Right-wingextremism, neo-Nazism, and extreme conservatism seem "naturally" linkedto denial or minimalization of the Holocaust, or calling for a new one. Aselsewhere in Europe, a relatively new "brotherhood" has emerged in 
 
31/12/09 12:58 PMBeing Leftist and Anti-Semitic in Germany - Susanne UrbanPage 2 of 10http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-32.htm
Germany between the extreme Right and fundamentalist Islam.Anti-Zionism, however - which is not mere criticism of Israeli policies, butthe denial of the Jewish people's right to live in their own state - also linksleftists and rightists. Since the Six Day War of 1967, both the extreme andthe mainstream Left in Europe have shown strong anti-Zionist tendencies,not always distinguishable from anti-Semitism. Although leftist anti-Zionismseemed to decline after the fall of Communism in 1990, it was reanimatedby the Second Intifada and the antiglobalization movement, which is todaya main source of leftist anti-Semitism.In a May 2002 survey in the weekly magazine
Der Spiegel 
, 25% agreedthat "what the state of Israel does to the Palestinians is no different thanwhat the Nazis did during the Third Reich to the Jews."
2
A new scholarlybook analyzes how deeply anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are rooted inGerman society.
3
Since 1989, united Germany seems to stand on twomain pillars: a strong anti-American and anti-Israeli attitude.
The Postwar, Pre-1967 Roots
Anti-Semitism was never exclusive to the Right; Communism, for its part,often vilified Jews as capitalists. Communism in East Germany, aselsewhere, denied the right to practice the Jewish religion and sought toeradicate religion in general, including Judaism. East Germany's anti-Semitic policies first became evident in January 1953 when the Stasi - thestate security service - confiscated documents of the Jewish communities,searched the homes of Jewish leaders, and spoke of a "Zionistconspiracy." After the Six Day War, East Germany officially adopted ananti-Zionist stance. However, no serious data on East German anti-Semitism is available before the reunification in 1989.Although West German left-wing anti-Semitism also increased steadilyafter the Six Day War, before then the West German Left supported Israelgenerally, and specifically the
Wiedergutmachung 
(Reparations Agreementof 1953) and the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1965. Thisfriendliness was, however, based on an idealization of Israel, kibbutzim,and pioneering and was not on genuinely firm ground.
4
Opposition to theconservative government of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer also played arole in this left-wing philo-Semitism.During the 1960s, the West German Left divided into a more"conservative" wing and a New Left trend. Whereas Chancellor WillyBrandt was said to be a true and unwavering friend of Israel,
5
many youngleftists took radical positions and opposed Brandt's "establishment" SocialDemocratic Party. In 1966 they founded the Nonparliamentary Opposition(APO), a popular movement that sought to "renew" German politics fromthe outside. Many of its members and supporters later showed sympathyfor the RAF, a leftist terrorist movement that had ties to the PLO andwhose cadres trained in terrorist camps in Lebanon.
Student Radicalization
 
31/12/09 12:58 PMBeing Leftist and Anti-Semitic in Germany - Susanne UrbanPage 3 of 10http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-32.htm
During the Six Day War, the New Left definitively transformed its hithertomoderate pro-Arab positions into full support for Arab states and thePalestinians, and its fragile pro-Israeli attitudes dissolved into anti-Semiticslogans thinly disguised as "anti-imperialist" criticism of a "fascist state."After 1967, however, not only the radicals but large parts of the GermanLeft turned their backs on Israel. This went hand in hand with protestsagainst the Vietnam War, against the conservative mainstream inAdenauer's Germany and afterward the "Great Coalition" that was headedfrom 1966 by Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger, a former member of theNazi Party.
6
The New Left also idealized Communist China and Ho ChiMinh, despite their involvement in mass murder against their own people.
7
Well-known intellectuals who were more moderate leftists tried to dissuadethe New Left from its extreme positions. Ernst Bloch, Jean Amery, HerbertMarcuse, Iring Fetscher, and Jean-Paul Sartre argued with the radicalsand discouraged blind solidarity with the PLO, as opposed to legitimatecriticism of Israeli policies. They warned that notions of Israel's annihilationwere intolerable and linked to National Socialist ideology. However, theywere not heeded by the radicals.
8
A Friend of Israel, a Foe of Leftists
The publisher Axel Caesar Springer, whose press group included thetabloid daily
BILD
and the daily
Die Welt 
, as well as many other newspapers and journals, was, according to the Israeli diplomat Asher Ben-Natan, a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people:He expressed opinions I haven't often heard in Germany.... Asthe demands mounted to draw a "bottom line" under theGerman past, Springer thought there could never be
Wiedergutmachung 
for the crimes Germans had committedagainst the Jews. He himself neither suppressed nor forgot thepast and did not expect the Jewish people to forgive what hadhappened....Neither his moral values nor historical insights nor close relations with Jews and Israel involved benefit for him. Itcame from honest belief....During our conversations he never disguised his hatred for every kind of totalitarian dictatorship,including Communism....After the Six Day War Springer promulgated four guidelines for his employees and hisnewspapers that are still binding for the journalists and editorsworking for Springer publications. One was "Fosteringreconciliation between Jews and Germany and supportingIsrael's right to exist."
9
Springer was, however, a major target of the New Left, one reason beingthat he and his newspapers were clearly pro-Israeli and condemned theanti-Israeli stream in the New Left. Many in this movement decided: "If Springer is pro-Israeli, we have to be against the state of Israel."
10
In 1969, on the date marking Kristallnacht, an anarchist-leftist grouppainted graffiti on Jewish memorials saying "Shalom and Napalm" or "ElFatah." A firebomb was also placed in the Jewish community center inBerlin. The leftist groups' common perception was: "Jews who were 

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