A recent survey of Germans and Muslims living in Germany conducted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) found that 60% of both populations consider antisemitism to be a widespread phenomenon in Germany that has increased over the past 10 years. But the study also brought to light the wide gap between the two populations in terms of the reasons for this hatred and showed how deeply rooted antisemitism is in all sectors of society.
According to the survey, 34% of the general German population and 54% of Muslims living in Germany agree with the statement, “Jews today use their status as victims of genocide during the Second World War in their favor.” The survey also revealed that 18% of Germans and 46% of Muslims agree with the statement, “Jews have too much power in the media,” and similar percentages think, “Jews have too much power in politics.”
This AJC poll has been released at a time when German authorities report record high levels of antisemitism. In 2021, there were 3,028 hate crimes targeting Jews. That is the highest number ever registered since police began tracking reported antisemitic incidents in 2001.
I am not surprised by these statistics that show how bad the situation is for Jews in Germany. I do not relate to them in terms of right or wrong; I evaluate them as a factual reality that does not seem to improve over time. I have not seen any decisive action by Jewish organizations to eliminate this phenomenon because what is done to address antisemitism amounts to merely formal measures: antisemitic incidents are widely reported, funds are received to address the problem, an ineffective campaign is carried out, and then the cycle begins again.
The current situation is just like before the Holocaust when a spike in antisemitism was reported but nothing was really done to eradicate it. On the contrary, the Holocaust unfolded. Just endlessly talking about the constant threat to Jews without thoroughly solving the problem is an empty effort. It prevents nothing now, just as it never prevented anything in the past.
German Jews should also take into account the fact that German demographics and mentality have changed. The current population is no longer a generation highly conscious of the Holocaust and the Third Reich involvement, so what do they care now? While Germans may still express support for the Jews and Israel because it remains a national pressure on them to do so, deep down, the sorrow or sense of guilt has disappeared. They are already fed up with the issue and do not understand what we want from them. Such attitudes are eating away at the status of Jews in Germany who stay there despite antisemitism because they still feel that they are doing well, but one might ask, for how much longer?
The same goes for the status of bilateral relations between Germany and Israel. Germany has been considered by Israel as a strong ally in Europe. Former Chancellor Angela Merkel, for example, said in 2008 that Israel’s security was part of Germany’s national interest. She felt obliged to speak about it and expressed her sympathy for the Jewish people because of Germany’s past. She belonged to the generation when that was common, a kind of polite commitment that is quickly becoming no longer relevant. A new government is in power, and the mentality of the people has also changed regarding Israel.
In other words: In the volatile world we live in today, there are no guarantees of unbreakable partnerships. We Jews need to reach a point where we become partners to one another among ourselves so that our future no longer depends on external support. We can trust no one but ourselves. Our nation was founded in order to realize the principle, “love your friend as yourself,” and by doing so, to become a conduit of such connection toward humanity–the meaning of us becoming “a light unto the nations”. In the final analysis, the more divided we are, the more antisemitism rises; and the closer we are to each other, then likewise, the more the world will relate positively to us.
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