Even as anti-Semitism has surged in the West during and after Israel’s latest conflict with the Hamas terrorist group, a high-ranking official in Germany’s Federal Foreign Office has come out strongly in support not only of Jews, but of Israel as well. “For all that color and diversity, there must, however, never be compromise on one point: Germany stands firmly at Israel’s side. For us, Israel’s right to exist and right to self-defense are non-negotiable,” said German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth in a speech last week. “After all, our history and the Holocaust generate a very special, unique duty for Germany.”
Roth in his comments—which were delivered to Germany’s parliament and published by the Federal Foreign Office—noted a young Jewish German who wrote to him of being afraid to just go out to the street because of anti-Semitism, while Roth himself said the things he has seen on social media have “shocked me to the core.”
Roth’s words come as anti-Semitic violence and vandalism has made headlines in recent weeks, including in Germany. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in tracking incidents on their website, noted that stones were thrown at a synagogue in the German city of Bonn during an anti-Israel demonstration, there were multiple incidents of burning Israeli flags—a crime in Germany—in front of synagogues, and a Holocaust memorial was vandalized. And that happened in just two days during May.
During his speech, Roth critiqued not only Germany, but all of Europe for the spike in anti-Semitism.
“Clearly my image of my own country, my image of my Europe, was too optimistic. Or to put it another way, I was clearly too naive. We are experiencing this hatred in Germany of all places, the country which in the darkest hour of its history showed where the most horrific form of hatred of Jews can lead,” said Roth.
While Roth noted that Middle East conflicts trouble people in Europe, he emphasized they are “no justification” for anti-Semitism. “All too often these days, anti-Semitism is concealed behind supposedly legitimate criticism of the Israeli Government. How presumptuous is that? Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East with a vibrant, diverse and critical civil society. They don’t need lectures from us,” said Roth.
Roth highlighted that flag burning has been made a “punishable offence” and that anti-Semitic motives are considered an “aggravating factor” in addressing hate crimes. Despite those steps forward, Roth called for more action and said that speaking out and acting against anti-Semitism is “more important than ever.”
He believes it’s not Jewish life in Germany that’s at stake.
“We are starting to play with fire when anti-Semitic stereotypes are used to poison the atmosphere and the flames are fanned when the Holocaust is trivialized and falsified,” said Roth. “Ensuring that Jewish life in Germany can today blossom and flourish is something we owe not just to the six million murdered Jews and their descendants, we owe it above all to our own self-respect, our self-respect as a free, democratic Germany at the heart of a united Europe.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, May 23, 2021)