It is no coincidence that the most vehement opponent of BDS and Palestine solidarity among German political parties is the neo-Nazi Alternative for Germany
On 19 May 2019 the Bundestag passed a motion declaring that Boycott Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] was anti-Semitic. You might therefore assume that Alternative for Germany, a neo-Nazi party that had 13% of the seats in the Bundestag would have opposed the motion. After all if BDS is anti-Semitic, and AfD are overrun with neo-Nazis, then that would seem logical. See Germany designates BDS Israel boycott movement as anti-Semitic
However the AfD, far from opposing the motion, wanted it to go further and legally ban BDS. The Greens and Social Democrats also voted to condemn BDS although it would appear that some members of Die Grunen had a conscience and abstained. The majority of Die Linke members voted against the motion but they submitted a separate motion also condemning BDS. According to the Guardian:
The far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) brought forward a separate motion calling for a complete ban of the BDS movement. Jürgen Braun, an AfD MP, claimed his party was the true friend of Israel in the German parliament, adding that “antisemitism comes from the left and Islam”. The AfD abstained on the government’s motion.
As is normally the case now, anti-Semites mask their anti-Semitism with support for Israel. According to The Times of Israel 88% of AfD members will celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary.
Today most anti-Semites and neo-Nazis admire Israel for being a model ethno-nationalist state where your rights and privileges depend on your (Jewish) ethnicity.
Nearly every far-Right party in Europe supports Zionism and Israel from Matteo Salvini to Viktor Orban. Richard Spencer, the neo-Nazi founder of the US’s alt-Right defines himself as a White Zionist. He loves the Jewish Nation State Law which defines Israel, not as a state of its own citizens, but of its Jewish citizens. He only wishes the United States would do the same.
Israel is a state which refuses to accept non-Jewish refugees because that would threaten its ‘Jewish racial identity’. Israel is a state which confines its Arab population, some 20%, to 2% of the land. It is a state that demolishes the homes of its Arab citizens in villages such as Umm al Hiran, to make way for Jewish towns such as Hiran.
All this and more was perpetrated against Germany’s Jews from 1933-1939. They too were confined to certain parts of town, banished from parks and barred from many towns altogether. It is no surprise that the German state should find in Israel such a congenial friend. After all Israel is Hitler’s bastard offspring.
To most people anti-Semitism is hostility or hatred of Jews not hatred of Israel or Israeli Apartheid. Israel is not a Jew and it is not a Jewish State except in a racial sense. But to the German State’s Christian Evangelist ‘anti-Semitism’ commissars it is opposition to Israeli racism which is anti-Semitic.
The Boycott of racially oppressive regimes is the weapon of the oppressed. It was first employed in the sugar islands of the West Indies against slave grown sugar. It was used in Ireland against British colonialism, from which the word Boycott comes. In 1933 Jews throughout the world (with the exception of the Zionists and Jewish bourgeoisie) launched a Boycott of Nazi Germany.
Using the Zionist logic this was an act of racism against Germans. In more recent times there was a Boycott of South Africa, a state which was Israel’s closest partner. To the Whites there this too was racist. Today, for exactly the same reason there is a Boycott of Israel.
It is perfectly understandable that racists and white supremacists the world over should oppose the Boycott of Israel as vehemently as they opposed the Boycott of South Africa. Racists have always opposed BDS. It is therefore no surprise that right-wing German parties, who trace their lineage back to the Nazis, should also oppose BDS. What is more surprising is that parties that consider themselves left-wing found themselves in the same corner as Germany’s neo-Nazis.
The Nazi State Also Supported Zionism and Proscribed Anti-Zionist Organisations
In the first 6 years of the Hitler regime, the Nazis actively discriminated against German Jewry’s non- Zionist organisations and in favour of Germany’s Zionist groups.
On 28 January 1935 Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler’s Deputy in the SS, Chief of the Police (RSHA) and the ‘real engineer of the final solution’ (Gerald Reitlinger) issued a directive stating:
the activity of the Zionist-oriented youth organisations that are engaged in the occupational restructuring of the Jews … lies in the interest of the National Socialist state’s leadership…. (they are) not to be treated with that strictness that it is necessary to apply to the members of the so-called German-Jewish organisations (assimilationists). [Lucy Dawidowicz, War Against the Jews, p.118].
The result was that the activities of Zionist groups were supervised with ‘more benevolence’ than comparable activities by non-Zionist Jewish groups. The Gestapo and the SD [Security Service] ‘place(d) no restrictions on Zionist organisations.’ (Herbert Strauss, Jewish Emigration from Germany)
In May 1935 Schwarze Korps, paper of the SS, wrote that:
the Zionists adhere to a strict racial position and by emigrating to Palestine they are helping to build their own Jewish state…. The assimilation-minded Jews deny their race and insist on their loyalty to Germany or claim to be Christians because they have been baptised in order to subvert National Socialist principles. [Randolph Braham, The Politics of Genocide – The Holocaust in Hungary, Dawidowicz, War Against the Jews].
In 1936, the Palestine Post reported that:
A bold demand that the German Zionist Federation [ZVfD] be given recognition by the Government as the only instrument for the exclusive control of German Jewish life was made by the Executive of that body in a proclamation today. All German Jewish organisations, it was declared, should be dominated by the Zionist spirit. [Lenni Brenner, 51 Documents]
At their annual meeting in May 1935 the ZVfD demanded a reorganisation of the German Jewish community and parity on the Reich Representation of German Jews [RVt], which incorporated all German Jewish organisations.
Publicly no one attributed the Zionist power bid to the Heydrich directive and to the then current National Socialist policy favouring the Zionists but the connection did not pass unnoticed. [Dawidowicz]
The December 1935 Gestapo report from Erfurt ‘conveyed that the entire community was battling against the Zionists.’ Despite their patronage by the Gestapo the Zionists were unable to get their way until much later. Germany’s Zionists acted as a Quisling movement.
Zionism had always been a German Jewish taboo. Today when the equation is made between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, one should bear in mind that when Hitler came to power,
German Jewry vehemently rejected Zionism as an enemy from within… Anti-Zionism was one of the few Jewish topics, Reform, Orthodox, cosmopolitan and ghetto Jews could agree on.’ [Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement, p. 168.]
Bans on Jewish political meetings were issued by the Gestapo on 31 May 1935. Zionist organisations were exempt. [Francis Nicosia, Zionism in National Socialist Jewish Policy] Non-Zionist youth organisations were banned from 1936 whereas Zionist youth groups were legal up till 1939. [Merilyn Moos and Steve Cushion, Anti-Nazi Germans].An exception to the rules banning the wearing of uniforms was allowed for the Revisionist Zionist National Youth Herzlia. [Nicosia, Zionism and Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany] The SD argued that the severest measures should be taken against all assimilationist efforts among the Jews and that the strongest support be given to all Zionist organisations. Only the Zionist movement was permitted to operate in Austria. All Austrian Jewish papers were banned except for the Zionistische Rundschau.
The SS had consistently promoted the Zionist movement in Germany and Jewish emigration to Palestine… by the end of 1938, the Zionist option in National Socialist Jewish policy would continue with even greater intensity.
An example of the Zionist endorsement of the Nazis’ anti-Semitism was the editorial in Judische Rundschau, eight years before it was made compulsory, endorsing the Yellow Star. So when the German state today bans anti-Zionist groups and activities they are acting in exactly the way as their Nazi predecessors. It is no coincidence that the German state today target Jewish anti-Zionists in particular.
German State McCarthyism
Recent targets include playwright Caryl Churchill. In April Caryl was named the recipient of the 2022 European Drama award. But early in November the jury retracted its decision and cancelled this year’s award altogether, saying it had been “made aware of previously unknown information”.
In its statement explaining its decision the jury said that they had ‘become aware of the author’s signatures in support of boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS].’ They added that “The play Seven Jewish Children can also be regarded as being antisemitic.’
Anyone who has seen Seven Jewish Children will see almost immediately that it is a brilliant description of the agonies and dilemmas of Jewish parents over the contrast between what happened to them in Germany and what is happening to others in Israel. It doesn’t have a whiff of anti-Semitism about it. This decision owes more to present day German racism and the State’s failure to deNazify than opposition to anti-Semitism.
More than 170 actors, writers and producers accused the jury of the 2022 European Drama Prize in Germany of “modern-day McCarthyism”, after it withdrew a Lifetime Achievement Award from Caryl Churchill over her support for Palestinian rights.
The comments come in an open letter whose signatories include Dame Harriet Walter (Killing Eve, Succession), directors Mike Leigh (Peterloo, Mr Turner, Vera Drake), Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Crown), Phyllida Lloyd (The Iron Lady, Mamma Mia!), and the National Theatre’s Dominic Cooke CBE.
“Caryl Churchill deserves the highest international awards for a lifetime of game-changing work in the theatre”,
said Dame Harriet Walter.
“To withdraw any honour because of her political views is a dishonourable act reminiscent of McCarthyism”.
Pointing to a series of similar attacks on artists and scholars in recent years, the letter stated that
“this [latest] attack on freedom of conscience… raises urgent questions about a pattern of intimidation and silencing in Germany, and beyond”.
The signatories accused institutions in Germany of “deep-seated anti-Palestinian racism”. They include actors Miranda Richardson, Miriam Margolyes, Khalid Abdalla, Juliet Stevenson, Maxine Peake, and Maureen Beattie as well as leading playwrights Abbie Spallen, Polly Stenham, Hannah Khalil, Nicholas Wright, Sabrina Mahfouz, Tanika Gupta, film director Stephen Frears, and Observer theatre critic Susannah Clapp.
“For the Schauspiel Stuttgart to rescind its prestigious award is irresponsible, illiberal and ignorant; the decision reeks of the very fascism it affects to oppose”
said Mike Leigh. This is a German state that backs Erdogan in Turkey and neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
In May of this year Berlin Police banned Nakba protests. They said they had assessed an “immediate danger” of “inflammatory, anti-Semitic exclamations,” incitement, and violence. When Police starting making political assessments as to who can and cannot demonstrate then we are on the road to a police state. See Human Rights Watch’s Berlin Bans Nakba Day Demonstrations.
Everywhere from the USA to France and Hungary, anti-Semites are trying to outlaw solidarity with the Palestinians in the name of fighting ‘anti-Semitism’.
We had the absurdity of the most racist and anti-Semitic President of the United States, Trump, condemning Ilhan Omar and Rashid Tlaib as anti-Semites for supporting BDS! When Trump told 4 Black Congresswomen to ‘go back home’ he also added that they hate Israel and therefore Jews. Trump is of the opinion that Israel is the ‘real home’ of American Jews.
We live in the world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice whose exchange in Through the Looking Glass is most apposite:
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”
‘Why now. Why the contemporary concern with the Jewish genocide… compared to its treatment in the period immediately after the Second World War?’
His answer was that this was about
‘consolidating a new ideology of exclusion. Now it is the Jews who are the insiders… the genocide and the Jews served in the construction of a European identity…’
Not only are Jews the insiders but the memory of the Holocaust has been distorted as a justification for Western support for Israel in the Middle East. The most barbaric acts of German imperialism are now being used to justify the barbarism of western imperialism.
Israel is seen by the European far-Right as the last defence against Islam. In the words of Dutch fascist Geert Wilders ‘If Jerusalem falls into the hands of the Muslims, Athens and Rome will be next.’
For Germany, coming to terms with the Holocaust has been seen in terms of uncritical support of Israel as a ‘Jewish’ state. The reason for this is that Israel played a crucial part in the rehabilitation of the German state and its integration into NATO during the cold war. In return for which Israel received billions in reparations.
The irony is that Israel from its formation modelled its settler-colonial model on Prussian militarism and colonisation. Instead of drawing the lesson from the Nazi era that racism and racial supremacy should be opposed, the German state has given carte blanche to an Israeli state which is the embodiment of Prussian militarism and racial supremacy.
Indeed the Israeli state, with its segregation between Jew and non-Jew, is the embodiment of Nazi values. If one looks at the period from 1933-39 then the parallels between Israel and Nazi Germany are uncanny not least with the Nuremburg Laws of 1935 which the Zionists alone in the Jewish community welcomed.
Eugenics played a key role in Nazi Germany and also today in Israel. In Israel conscious attempts to ‘improve’ the Jewish ‘race’ were made by Arthur Ruppin through selective Jewish immigration.
In the 1950’s thousands of babies of Yemenite parents were stolen and transferred to Ashkenazi parents. It is a scandal which has been smouldering for over half a century. See for example The Disappeared Children of Israel.
Far from the Bundestag rejecting the values of Hitlerism, by their actions they endorsed the perpetuation of those values in the hands of the Israeli state. If Israel, the Jewish state, can act like Germans once did, then the logical conclusion is that perhaps the Nazi period wasn’t so bad after all. That is a message that the AfD and Austria’s Freedom Party understand all too well.
When the Chief Rabbi of Safed, Shmuel Eliyahu issued an edict banning the renting of apartments to Arabs, an edict which was endorsed by dozens of other rabbis, or when Jewish mobs chant ‘death to the Arabs’ it is clear that the values of German ethno-nationalism have been absorbed by Jewish ethno-nationalism.
It is a sign of the abject cowardice of the Greens and SPD that they say nothing about the racism of the Israeli state. What part of the house demolitions, the ethnic cleansing or the shooting of unarmed demonstrators do they not understand? Perhaps their tongues might loosen with the appointment of open fascists and Jewish Nazis like Ben Gvir to Israel’s government. But then again that too is unlikely.
Ironically it has been Israelis themselves who have recognised that Israel’s ethno-nationalism is reminiscent of the Nazi era.
The late Professor Zeev Sternhell, a world authority on fascism and a child survivor of the Przemysl Nazi ghetto. In Israel, Growing Fascism and a Racism Akin to Early Nazism Sternhell spoke of a
‘toxic ultra-nationalism that has evolved here, the kind whose European strain almost wiped out a majority of the Jewish people.’
He is not alone.Other Israelis including Daniel Blatman, a Holocaust researcher and chief historian at the Warsaw Ghetto museum and Ofer Casif, a Hebrew University lecturer and MK for Hadash, argued thatIsrael today is similar to early Nazi Germany.
Members of the Bundestag forget that when the Nazis took power in 1933, they were met with a worldwide Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany. Just like now, the ruling classes railed at this interference with free trade. The Zionists were vehemently opposed to the Boycott of Nazi Germany as they wanted to reach their own trade agreement Ha’avara, with the Nazis. So at least they are being consistent.
As Palästina Spricht put it, We call on the German government to fight racism and apartheid – not those who oppose them asking:
‘What message does Germany send when it protects a violent military power that in the past year alone had indiscriminately killed over 450 Palestinians, while at the same time condemning a non-violent movement that merely demands that Israel abides by its obligations under international law?’
The decision of the Bundestag and its conflation of Zionism and Judaism ignores the long history of Jewish opposition to Zionism, as well as ignoring the numerous Jewish individuals and organizations who either support BDS or defend its legitimacy.
The implicit suggestion that Israel represents the values of the Jews of the pre-Holocaust era is both anti-Semitic and an insult to those who died. As Yoav Rinon wrote Neither Israel’s nor Germany’s Slide Into Fascism Was Accidental.
It may be painful for German legislators to understand, but a state that demolishes Palestinian homes in order erect Jewish homes in their place owes more to the Nazis than those who suffered under them. Rion wrote that
few would deny that modern German identity has had a central role in the formulation of Jewish-Israeli identity, especially in light of the Holocaust and its key impact on the past of the two peoples.
Rion described the problem in psychological terms:
‘A battered child often turns into a battering parent, and what applies on the personal level is also valid on the national one.’
Professor Sara Roy wrote an Open Letter, On equating BDS and anti-Semitism: a letter to the German government:
If your history has imposed a burden and an obligation upon you, it is to defend justice not Israel. This is what Judaism, not Zionism, demands. Your obligation does not lie in making Israel or the Jewish people special or selectively excusing injustice because Jews happen to be committing it; it lies in holding Israel and Jews to the same ethical and moral standards that you would demand of any people, including yourselves.
Your sense of guilt, if that is the correct word, should not derive from criticizing Israel. It should reside in remaining silent in the face of injustice as so many of your forebears did before, during and after the Holocaust.
I lost a large extended family to fascism and racism. By endorsing the motion that alleges that BDS is anti-Semitic—regardless of one’s position on BDS—you are criminalizing the right to free speech and dissent and those who choose to exercise it, which is exactly how fascism takes root. You also trivialize and dishonor the real meaning of anti-Semitism.
The Bundestag vote was also felt in a renewed Zionist attack on Berlin’s Jewish Museum. This is an institution that the Zionists have long detested as it isn’t under their control. Zionism has not only colonised Palestine but Jewish communities and their institutions in the diaspora. The Jewish museum of Berlin is an exception.
In 2013, British lecturer Brian Klug delivered a thoughtful lecture What Do We Mean When We Say ‘Antisemitsm’? Echoes of shattering glass on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht. There was an immediate Zionist response. A group calling themselves ‘International scholars’ compiled a Dossier on Brian Klug.
And what a collection of scholars it was! It was headed by Gerald Steinberg of the McCarthyite NGO Monitor, which spends most of its time attacking Israeli human rights organisations. Also signed up was Junk Historian Ephraim Karsh, [see Benny Morris’s review of Karsh’s book Fabricating Israeli History: The New ‘Historians’ in Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. 27 No. 2 Winter 1998] and Sam Westrup, ‘Senior Fellow’ of the Islamaphobic Gatestone Institute.
Another ‘scholar’ was Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar, whose main claim to fame is advocating the rape of Palestinian women in war as a deterrent to ‘terrorists’. These ‘scholars’ even extended to our own hoodlums, Jonathan Hoffman and Richard Millet!
Their leader Clemens Heni wrote in The Times of Israel that ‘Brian Klug is among the worst choices for a keynote speaker’ because ‘he denies that there is a new antisemitism.’ In other words Klug should have been banned because he was not prepared to say that anti-Zionism was anti-Semitism.
The cudgels were taken up again because of a pro-BDS tweet that apparently emanated from someone at the Jewish Museum. See ‘Anti-Jewish’ Museum in Berlin under fire for supporting BDS. The Director, Peter Schäfer, was eventually forced to resign.
Other sins included the fact that in 2012 ‘the Jewish Museum hosted a podium discussion with US academic Judith Butler, who renewed her calls to boycott Israel.’ Clearly this was a call for the neo-Nazis and Greens in the Bundestag to take the kind of action Hitler would have approved of and close down a cultural and academic institution.
Gideon Levy in Ha’aretz wrote In Germany, a Non-violent Struggle Against War Crimes Could Be Declared Illegal that if the German government adopted the Bundestag resolution outlawing BDS then there would be nothing to equal it in any democracy.
‘Just say “anti-Semitism” and the world is paralyzed. One can kill children in Gaza, then say “anti-Semitism!” and squelch any criticism. Europe is still vulnerable on this. Exploit it to the hilt.
It’s hard to believe that the hundreds of Bundestag members who voted for this resolution, which defines a completely legitimate struggle as anti-Semitic, actually agreed with it. One may assume that deep inside, many harbor doubts if not opposition to a move that was imposed on them
Rather than slaying the dragon of racism and fascism the Green, Social Democratic and Die Linke parties gave a boost to the forces of racism and fascism. It is little wonder that Die Linke at the last election barely scraped home.
These racist hypocrites could have taken on board the fact that Netanyahu has no greater friend than Hungary’s anti-Semitic Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. Orban is on record as saying of Admiral Horthy, the pro-Nazi leader of war-time Hungary, who presided over the deportation of Hungary’s Jews to Auschwitz that he was an ‘exceptional statesman’
One thing is for sure, German politicians today and the cowards who inhabit the Bundestag are anything but exceptional statesmen. They are the same cowards who in 1933 voted for the Enabling Act thus ushering in the personal dictatorship of Hitler. Ha’aretz reported that
‘Last year, it was reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded from Chancellor Angela Merkel that Germany stop funding the museum because it had held an exhibition about Jerusalem, “that presents a Muslim-Palestinian perspective.”
Merkel was asked to halt funding to other organisations deemed anti-Israel. Among them were the Berlin International Film Festival, pro-Palestinian Christian organizations, and the Israeli news website +972, which receives funding from the Heinrich Böll Foundation.
Netanyahu did not deny the report and his bureau confirmed that he had raised
“with various leaders the issue of funding Palestinian and Israeli groups and nonprofit organizations that depict the Israel Defense Forces as war criminals, support Palestinian terrorism and call for boycotting the State of Israel.” Israel lobbies German government to enforce motion defining BDS as anti-Semitic
The Bundestag motion marked the first time a European parliament had officially defined the BDS movement as anti-Semitic. The motion stated that the BDS movement’s “Don’t Buy” stickers on Israeli products evoke the Nazi slogan “Don’t buy from Jews.”
One wonders at the gutlessness of a German government that wasn’t capable of telling Netanyahu to take a running jump, preferably into a stretch of deep water. See ‘ The Bundestag motion, passed with broad multiparty support last month, has drawn wide opposition, including from Jewish intellectuals’ Haaretz, 11 June 2019, Noa Landau
240 Jewish intellectuals published a petition against the Bundestag motion, saying “boycotts are a legitimate and nonviolent tool of resistance.” The signatories, among them Avraham Burg and Eva Illouz, called on the German government not to adopt the motion, to protect freedom of speech and continue funding of Israeli and Palestinian organizations
“that peacefully challenge the Israeli occupation, expose severe violations of international law and strengthen civil society. These organizations defend the principles and values at the heart of liberal democracy and rule of law, in Germany and elsewhere. More than ever, they need financial support and political backing.”