AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION
February 27, 2014
IN THIS EDITION
MERKEL IN ISRAEL – A staged but important event.
EUROPE, THE EU & ANTI-SEMITISM – How do European Jews see Europe?
COUNTING THE JEWS – Who decides how many?
THE IMPORTTANCE OF JORDAN – A frequently left out entity in thinking about Middle
EU PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT & THE KNESSET - The EU Parliament President came
to Israel. It was not a great visit.
THE PRESBYTERIANS – Jewish interreligious work has had little success with this
group of conservative Christians.
HATE MAIL; WHO SENDS IT?– Anti-Semitic hate comes from those you would least
expect to be its author.
Will the winter never end? We’re freezing here in New York. There are still mounds of
snow all over (mostly now turned to ice). This is not the North Pole but it’s a good
The trip to Israel by Chancellor Merkel and her cabinet has just ended and no matter
what the policy disagreements are, unless you always see the glass as half-empty, it
has to be considered a success (see article below). I’m a half-full guy myself so I like
what I saw and heard. Sure there are rumblings of discontent and, perhaps the polls are
not very positive these days, but when I look around and see the chaos in the Ukraine,
Syria, and Africa, I’m glad the two nations I like the best after my own are getting along
pretty well. Call me Pollyanna! I’ll plead guilty to it.
I think many of you know that I also do an American Edition mostly for American Jews
who want to know about what’s going on in Germany around the issues of common
interest. If you don’t receive it and want, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Both editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com .
I’ll be visiting Berlin in early April (Apr. 6-12). I’d love to touch base with some of you
who are there. Let me know I’ll make it my business to get in touch.
Let’s get on to the news…
MERKEL IN ISRAEL
The trip of Chancellor Merkel and her cabinet to Israel received great coverage in both
the Israeli and Anglo-Jewish press here in the U.S. While it was well-staged in advance
(no one likes surprises) with all the right things being said, it was important because
these sorts of formal diplomatic events do have importance. When two nations that
have some strong disagreements but are entwined by history come together, that in
itself is a statement of importance.
The fact that Chancellor Merkel received Israel’s highest civilian award is a message to
the world and the people of both nations involved. Of course there are disagreements
over some issues (Iran, the Palestinians, etc.) but they have not reached the critical
point where relations have begun to come apart.
It is rumored that Merkel and Netanyahu don’t like each other. So what? Like many
married people I know who have their disagreements and even petty hates it doesn’t
make any difference. They’re stuck! The same goes for these two national leaders.
I have said many times that Israel and Germany need each other. These ministerial
meetings, especially at this time with new German ministers having just taken office,
have personal importance for those involved. They also show the depth of the
connection between the two countries for the rest of the world to see.
I would deem this week’s meetings as very successful not so much because a lot of
business was transacted or positions changed. They’re important because they took
To read some of the Israeli coverage click here.
EUROPE, THE EU & ANTI-SEMITISM
I don't normally reprint opinion pieces, however I am doing this with an article by Eldad
Beck, the Berlin correspondent of Yediot Achronot. It bears reading. Why? Because I
believe it represents the beliefs of a great many Jews living in Europe - and, I guess, in
the United States as well.
Beck, writing in Y-Net News, an Israel based e-news outlet in their "Opinion" section,
writes" The European Union has found an efficient way of fighting anti-Semitism:
Concealing it by completely ignoring its existence, especially in Europe.
In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day which took place last week,
Catherine Ashton, the high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security
Policy for the EU, issued a short statement which included only two paragraphs and 120
words in English.
One could find there wordings like: "We honor every one of those brutally murdered in
the darkest period of European history," "We also want to pay a special tribute to all
those who acted with courage and sacrifice to protect their fellow citizens against
persecution," "It is an occasion to remind us all of the need to continue fighting prejudice
and racism in our own time," "The respect of human rights and diversity lies at the heart
of what the European Union stands for."
Two words were missing from Ashton's laconic statement: Jews and anti-Semitism.
The Holocaust was an exclusive outcome of European anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism
which is raising its head again today in the old continent. In Greece, Hungary and
Austria, neo-Nazi anti-Semitic parties are sitting in the parliaments again, France is
agog over a comedian marketing anti-Semitism as entertainment for the masses, and
mass media outlets in Germany, France and Poland are filled with anti-Semitism.
In addition, in light of the deep social-economic crisis in most EU countries, neo-Nazi,
fascist, anti-Semitic and racist parties may increase their representation in the upcoming
European Parliament elections. But Baroness Ashton doesn‘t think she should address
anti-Semitism individually – as far as she and the EU are concerned, it's just part of a
more general phenomenon of "racism."
In the past few years, the EU has waged a consistent battle against every effort to hold
a discussion on the anti-Semitic frenzy in Europe. In 2003, a report commissioned by
the EU on the issue was buried, mainly because it mentioned Muslim anti-Semitism.
Later on, the EU created a comparison between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and
finally argued and asserted that Islamophobia is Europe's big problem, and that in fact
there is no longer significant anti-Semitism but just "legitimate criticism against Israel's
In honor of the latest anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom, the European Union
Agency for Fundamental Rights prepared a survey which pointed to a significant
increase in anti-Semitism in Europe, and as a result to the desire of one-quarter of
Europe's Jews to leave their countries. Certain people in Ashton's bureau begged for
weeks that the European foreign ministry would properly address the survey's terrible
results, but the majority of officials there were against it.
"In the European foreign service, the famous and known anti-Israel stance has turned
into open anti-Semitism long ago," admits a senior source in the European Commission,
who is in constant touch with Ashton's people.
That is, apparently, the explanation for European anti-Semitism: The anti-Semites never
treated anti-Semitism as a problem.
I am very reluctant to ever accuse anybody of being an anti-Semite. To me it is a tag
that I reserve for only those I am absolutely convinced are enemies of the Jewish
However, as I’ve pointed out numerous times there are those that carry an extreme
distaste for Jews and, in this day and age, by extension, the State of Israel. Sometimes
their views border on being anti-Semitic.. Of course, it is certainly possible to hold
negative views about Israel and its policies without being anti-anything.
I admit that it’s hard for me to classify Catherine Ashton. I have carefully watched her
career since be appointed to her EU foreign affairs position. I cannot remember one
instance when I thought that what came out of her mouth was in anyway positive about
In addition, when I found out that she was putting together a full EU foreign “ministry” I
took issue with a number of German foreign affairs people about what the treatment of
Israel might be and, as well, what that might mean for the independence of German
foreign policy toward Israel. In my opinion both of my concerns still have credence.
Whether I am right or wrong the fact remains that many European Jews are considering
moving away from the continent because of what they feel is the rise of anti-Semitism.
While I am concerned about the Jews involved, they can move to Israel or elsewhere for
What the effect will be for Europe is a different story. Unchecked anti-Semitism is
absolutely toxic for European democracy. If it is being swept under the rug as Eldad
Beck believes it is the yellow warning light is on.
COUNTING THE JEWS
Over the years I've provided you with demographic numbers about Jews in the U.S. As
I've pointed out, getting accurate numbers is important. Yes! National population
numbers are important but for local communities their own are even more essential.
Why? Because only when they know with whom they dealing can they do the planning
for local services.
How do they get the numbers? They call on a guy like Ira Sheskin who is, at the
moment, doing a survey for the Miami Jewish community.
According to JTA, ―Ira Sheskin [is] the go-to man for Jewish communities that want to
count their Jews, is overseeing the work. A professor of geography at the University of
Miami, Sheskin is now on his 43rd Jewish federation population study, and he‘s got it
down to a science.( FYI, A federation is the term most Jewish communities use for the
overall coordinating body for all the local Jewish organizations.)
He has found that subjects are much more likely to talk if the interviewer is female.
Because of the unique background of Miami Jews, Sheskin has hired interviewers who
speak six different languages. Those with some fluency in Judaism offer certain
advantages, such as the ability to discern when a respondent has misunderstood a
question about whether they keep two sets of dishes to be about kitchenware rather
than Jewish observance.
For the Miami survey, Sheskin has brought some of his veteran interviewers with him:
Two women from Pennsylvania who have worked with him twice before and his
octogenarian mother-in-law, who sits in a corner dutifully dialing numbers. His son and
wife are helping out, too.
―When you get someone on the phone who is cooperative, it‘s actually a very interesting
process that both the respondent and the interviewer benefit from,‖ says Sheskin, 63,
who did his first large community study in 1982, also for the Greater Miami Jewish
Federation. ―You hear some fascinating stories in these interviews, and you realize how
inconsistent some people are.‖
The last time the Miami federation took a census, in 2004, it found 113,000 Jews in
Miami-Dade County. A lot has happened since: Hundreds of Latin American Jewish
families from Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina and elsewhere have immigrated. The
economic crisis and real estate bust of 2008 hit the state hard, slowing domestic
migration to Florida for several years. The Orthodox community in Miami Beach
appears to have grown. Old people died. Babies were born.
―The change in the complexion of the population has been really dramatic,‖ says Jacob
Solomon, CEO of the Miami federation.
But without hard numbers, no one knows exactly how dramatic. That‘s where survey
data come in.
The new study, whose results are expected to be released this fall, will provide not only
demographic data — country of birth, age, number of children, education level, religious
denomination, Jewish observance level and more — but also take the pulse of
community members on such issues as their emotional attachment to Israel, frequency
of synagogue attendance, the importance of being Jewish to their lives and what sorts
of Jewish activities they do.
In all, there are 151 possible questions, culled from past surveys and refined through 15
focus groups, four federation committee meetings, and discussions between Sheskin
and federation leaders. About 80 percent of the survey is identical to Miami‘s last one, in
These kinds of population surveys are meant to help Jewish agencies and institutions
plan for the future. If, for example, the number of Jewish households with young
children is falling in a particular city, it may put the local JCC‘s expansion plans on ice. A
question in the Miami survey about the newspapers read by respondents is meant to
help guide the federation‘s newspaper ad spending.
The goal is to get a sample size of roughly 1,800 Jews — enough respondents not just
for the overall picture, but also enough to learn about subgroups: Holocaust survivors,
Latin Jews, Israelis, retirees, parents. In all, the calling period will probably last five
weeks. Interviewers work four-hour shifts spread over 12-hour days, earning $18 per
Then comes the work of entering and crunching the data — Sheskin‘s interviewers
record answers by hand — and months of study. By fall, the survey should be ready to
―Even if everybody doesn‘t respond, and even if things aren‘t perfect,‖ Sheskin says,
―you still get a pretty good idea of what the Jewish community looks like.‖
And what it looks like determines how it should be serviced. It’s as simple as that. It’s
the servicing that’s complicated and how to fund raise to support it is even more
Being Jewish, even in the U.S., is complicated.
THE IMPORTTANCE OF JORDAN
One of the major players you hear little about in any discussion regarding the possibility
of an Israel – Palestinian peace deal is Jordan. Considering the fact that it has a more
than 200 mile border with the West Bank and more than 2 million Palestinians living
within its borders, it has to be considered important. So far as I can tell – it isn’t!
One might think since Jordan as an Arab country would be happy with an Israeli –
Palestinian agreement. They aren’t!
Jamal Halaby writing in an AP article notes, ―Israelis and Palestinians may be hugely
skeptical about the U.S.-led peace negotiations their leaders have been roped into, but
the Jordanians seem worried that they actually might succeed. The kingdom is already
home to the largest Palestinian population outside the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and
Jordanian lawmakers and others fear an accord might lead to a new influx of refugees.‖
The kingdom, a key U.S. ally, is watching warily as Secretary of State John Kerry
brokers the secretive talks. Protests have broken out, the media brims with disaster
scenarios, and lawmakers have held anguished debate.
"Jordan stands today at a dangerous crossroad because it will be a victim of an IsraeliPalestinian peace deal," warned tribal lawmaker Abdul-Karim Dughmi. "I do not trust Mr.
Kerry because his country is biased toward the Zionists and their expansionist plans to
usurp the remaining Palestinian lands in the West Bank and force more Palestinian
refugees onto Jordan."
He spoke during the second day of a heated debate on the issue under the domed
parliament chamber in the capital, Amman.
At the heart of the matter is the brittle situation in Jordan itself - a monarchy that
managed largely to escape the Arab Spring convulsions that have enveloped much of
the region, and yet is vulnerable because of a combustible ethnic schism only
complicated by the recent years' arrival of more than a half million refugees from Syria
due to that country's ruinous civil war. Another half million Iraqis also live in Jordan
since dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.
I do not think the Jordanians are opposed to peace. What worries them is instability in
their own country. Of course, they blame their troubles on Israel but in reality Israel is
their insurance policy. If it were not for the possibility of Israeli intervention if the Islamic
extremists tried to take over, the King and his government would be long gone and a
Syrian-like civil war would be taking place.
In any case, Jordan is an important factor in Middle East peace. The Halaby piece is
quite informative (though a bit biased) and well worth the time to read it. You can do that
by clicking here. http://apnews.myway.com/article/20140205/DABP4S181.html
EU PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT & THE KNESSET
There are those in Israel who not harbor the most positive feelings about the European
Union, especially its foreign policy. Many are on the right-wing of the political spectrum.
Some of that came out during a visit by EU Parliament President Martin Schulz.
According to Israel Hayom, a conservative Israeli newspaper, “Habayit Hayehudi
ministers and MKs stormed out of European Parliament President Martin Schulz's
address to the Knesset on Wednesday, after Schulz implied that Israel has a
discriminatory water policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians.
Speaking about a meeting with Palestinians in Ramallah earlier this week, Schulz said,
"One of the questions these young people asked me which I found most moving -although I could not check the exact figures -- was this: how can it be that an Israeli is
allowed to use 70 liters of water per day, but a Palestinian only 17?"
Schulz also called Israeli settlement policy an "obstacle" to a peace deal and said
Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip is "driving people to despair -- despair which in turn
is being exploited by extremists."
"The blockade may in fact undermine, rather than strengthen, Israel's security," Schulz
Habayit Hayehudi MK Moti Yogev stood up and interrupted Schulz's speech, saying,
"How can a son of the German nation not be ashamed to quote lies he heard in
"Israel has been out of Gaza for a long time now, and your support of the Palestinians,
who are inciting for the destruction of Israel, on the Knesset podium 70 years after the
Holocaust, is chutzpah," Yogev said to Schulz.
After Yogev's outburst, Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett, along with the rest of
his party's ministers and MKs, walked out of the Knesset hall.
Following Schulz's speech, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) took to the
podium and criticized Schulz, saying he had uttered a "vulgar lie."
"When he said these things, and in German, it is no wonder that MKs and ministers
objected," Livnat said.
Yogev said, "It's a shame, [Schulz] is supporting those who are inciting for the
extermination of the Jews."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also took issue with Schulz's speech.
"The European parliament president visited Ramallah and heard from young people he
met with data about water, according to which an Israeli consumes four times as much
water as a Palestinian," Netanyahu said. "But a look at the data of the water authorities
of Israel and the Palestinian Authority make it clear that what he heard is not correct.
The gap is significantly smaller. Schulz admitted that he did not examine the figures, but
this did not stop him from making the unchecked claim."
Netanyahu said Schulz had exhibited "selective hearing."
Leftist parties criticized the conduct of Habayit Hayehudi. Opposition Leader Isaac
Herzog (Labor) defended Schulz, calling him a "friend of Israel."
"Since when are you afraid of criticism?" Herzog said to Schulz's Knesset detractors.
"It's time you learn to accept criticism and stop declaring war on the entire world."
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said, "I want to remind my friends in Habayit Hayehudi
that, despite their efforts, we still live in a democratic nation, in which criticism can and
should be heard, in any language. The use of the Holocaust in order to not deal with
international criticism is not just repulsive, but also already very ridiculous."
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) also admonished MKs for their behavior during
"If this is how MKs act, then no one will want to appear before us and the Knesset will
not fill any role in the international arena," Edelstein said.
Before his speech, Schulz was greeted at the Knesset with an official welcome
In his speech, Schulz said the EU had no intention of boycotting Israel.
"I am of the conviction that what we need is more cooperation, not division," Schulz
"I am a German who did not experience at first hand the atrocities of National Socialism,
but the crimes committed by the Nazis were the reason I became involved in politics
and their repercussions have influenced political thinking from the start, " Schulz said. "I
bear the same responsibility as every other German for the mass murder perpetrated in
the name of my nation."
"Acting responsibly means, for us, openly acknowledging Israel's right to exist and the
right of the Jewish people to live in security and peace," Schulz said. "The European
Union will always stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel."
It’s a great shame that this sort of behavior takes place and particularly regrettable that
it took place in Israel’s parliament. There are more effective ways to counter opinions
and incorrect statistics. A shout-out might play well with certain elements in the Israeli
electorate but certainly not everyone.
Having said the above, the EU, and especially its Foreign Affairs chief, Catherine
Ashton, is often seen as being pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. That’s my feeling as well.
The EU leadership after sounding the right notes about Israel’s security, normally then
begins to harp on “the settlements” issue. This on-going, frequently below the surface
hostility is not good for either party. Somehow more in the way of amelioration is
needed. I hope cooler, less hostile heads can prevail. I’ll leave it that.
The American Jewish community concerns itself with its standing in the overall scheme
of American life. In addition, certainly since 1948, it has added to that concern the
question of how Israel is supported by non-Jewish Americans. Now, as less than 2% of
the total U.S. population those tasks are weighty.
The organized Jewish community has expended a lot of its time and energy dealing and
relating to the various Christian religious groups in the U.S. and abroad. My own
organization, AJC, has staff members in New York and Jerusalem who do nothing else.
For instance, an AJC leadership group recently met with Pope Francis in the Vatican in
order to establish and cement a meaningful relationship with him.
By and large, the Jewish community has had good working relations with Evangelical
groups who make up the bulk of the Christian Zionists in the U.S. However, over the
years one segment that leaned away from supporting Israel and has championed the
Palestinians is the Presbyterians. Of course, not all Presbyterians lean that way but
enough of a segment so that they are a strong voice in organized Presbyterian life.
The Presbyterian Church (USA), at least an arm of the church, recently released a
study guide on Zionism. It met with a great deal of Jewish hostility. According to The
Forward, ―Presbyterians who engage in dialogue with Jewish groups are scrambling to
undo what they say is the damage caused by a congregational study guide assailing
Zionism distributed by a group affiliated with their denomination.
The guide, ―Zionism Unsettled,‖ posits that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is fueled by a
―pathology inherent in Zionism‖ and rejects theologies – Christian and Jewish – that
Jewish groups expressed outrage at the guide released last month by the
Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The president of
the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Rabbi Steve Gutow, called the guide ―worthy of a
hate group, not a prominent American church.‖
Presbyterians involved in Jewish-Christian dialogue expressed dismay over the guide in
equally strong terms.
―This document purports to be about love but it actually expresses demonization,
distortion and imbalance,‖ the Rev. Katharine Rhodes Henderson, the president of New
York‘s Auburn Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian-affiliated institution, wrote in an
statement issued to JTA.
Some Presbyterians involved in Jewish-Christian dialogue say they are pressing the
leadership of their church to renounce the study guide and plan to raise the issue at
their mainline Protestant denomination‘s General Assembly this summer.
The immediate task for members of their church, many Presbyterians reached by JTA
said, is to reassure Jews that the guide does not reflect the broader church.
One Evangelical who was really put off by the Presbyterian study piece was Robert
Nicholson. Writing in The Times of Israel he noted, ―I‘m not quite sure what Israel did to
the Presbyterians, but it must have been pretty bad.
Take the recent Zionism Unsettled report released by the Presbyterian Church (USA)‘s
quasi-official ―Israel Palestine Mission Network.‖ Glossy, high-color, and bundled with a
nifty DVD, the report provides ―an invaluable guide to deeper understanding‖ of what
just might be the universe‘s most important conflict.
Its conclusion is straightforward: Zionism is the ultimate source of the world‘s problems
and those Jews and Christians who support Jewish sovereignty (or should I say ―the
Zionist quest for demographic control of the land‖) are no better than war criminals for
sanctioning Israel‘s colonization of the Palestinian homeland.
The Presbyterians who drafted this shameless polemic have one goal in mind: to sway
delegates who will be attending the PC-USA‘s June assembly to vote in favor of
divesting from Israel. A similar measure was narrowly defeated in 2012; this year‘s vote
is expected to be just as close.
The good news for Israelis is that not all Christians, not all Protestants, not all Reformed
churches, and not even all Presbyterians support this heinous initiative. We‘re talking
about a small, albeit loud and powerful, faction within Christianity that – for whatever
reason – has nothing better to do than to criticize the Jewish state. Saudi Arabia, China,
Iran, and North Korea no doubt look on with mild amusement.
The bad news is that, while the brazen anti-Israel camp in the church is small, a growing
number of Christians have been stepping back their support for Israel in favor of a more
―balanced‖ position that tends to castigate Jewish ―oppression‖ while raising the banner
of Palestinian nationalism. I have detailed the various causes underlying this new
movement in a recent article entitled ―Evangelicals and Israel: What American Jews
Don‘t Want to Know (but Need to).‖
I encourage everyone, whether Christian or Jewish, to read the article and investigate
what‘s going on. Although my Jewish readers may have little interest in a case of intraChristian squabbling, I submit that this case merits attention by anyone who believes in
the necessity of preserving the State of Israel.
In the meantime, Israelis should note that the Presbyterian church doesn‘t speak for me.
It doesn‘t speak for lots of Christians around the world
I think I’ll leave it at that. The Study Guide is just another item for those of us who think
Israel is important and while not every policy might please everybody, an attack on
Zionism, the basis for the Jewish State is something that must be dealt with head on.
HATE MAIL; WHO SENDS IT?
Jews and Jewish organizations are not the only ones to get hate mail. However, antiSemitic hate mail received in Germany registers as an important issue for Jews. It’s
actually just as important for all Germans
A most interesting study was completed last year but only reported in the English
language Jewish press recently. Haaretz reports, ―Over months, Prof. Monika SchwarzFriesel read 14,000 letters, emails and faxes sent to the Israeli embassy in Berlin and
the Central Council of Jews in Germany. She was looking for an answer to a question
that had preoccupied her for some time: What does anti-Semitism look like in Germany
at the start of the 21st century?
―I wanted to find out how modern anti-Semites think, feel and communicate,‖ said
Schwarz-Friesel, a linguistics professor at the Technical University of Berlin, in an
interview with Haaretz
Previous studies of anti-Semitism didn‘t satisfy her, nor did public opinion surveys,
questionnaires or the annual reports put out by various agencies on anti-Semitic
incidents round the world. ―I wasn‘t satisfied with the methodology of asking in a survey,
‗Do you think that Jews are ...,‖ she explained.
So she decided to search for data in another source that had never before been studied
so systematically and comprehensively. She asked the Israeli embassy in Berlin and the
local Jewish community to send her all the hate mail they received over a 10-year
period, from 2002 to 2012.
They gave her 14,000 letters, to which she added 2,000 letters from other Israeli
embassies in Europe.
Her approach to these institutions was made easier by the fact that her husband, Prof.
Evyatar Friesel, once served as Israel‘s state archivist. ―In the end, I had a unique
collection of information that enabled me to understand how modern anti-Semites think
in the 21st century,‖ she said.
Her research partner was Prof. Jehuda Reinharz, a historian and past president of
Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Together with a few research assistants, they
read and analyzed all the letters. ―We were helped by modern technology that enabled
us to sort them better than in the past,‖ Schwarz-Friesel said.
Their findings were detailed in a book published in Germany last year, ―The Language
of Hostility toward Jews in the 21st Century.‖ Next year, it will be published in English.
What they discovered is that more than 60 percent of the letters were sent by educated
Germans, including university professors. The proportion sent by right-wing extremists
was negligible – about 3 percent.
―At first, we thought that most of the letters would be sent by right-wing extremists,‖
Schwarz-Friesel said. ―But I was very surprised to discover that they were actually sent
by people from the social mainstream – professors, Ph.Ds, lawyers, priests, university
and high-school students.‖
She was also surprised to discover that most of the letter writers had no qualms about
giving their names, addresses and titles. ―Twenty or 30 years ago, that wouldn‘t have
happened,‖ she said.
Still another surprise was the fact that there is no significant difference between the
extreme right‘s anti-Semitism and that of the educated mainstream. ―The difference is
only in the style and the rhetoric, but the ideas are the same,‖ Schwarz-Friesel noted.
―It is possible that the murder of innocent children suits your long tradition?‖ one letter
―For the last 2,000 years, you‘ve been stealing land and committing genocide,‖ said
―You Israelis ... shoot cluster bombs over populated areas and accuse people who
criticize such actions of anti-Semitism. That‘s typical of the Jews!‖ declared a third.
Certain key phrases kept cropping up in letter after letter. For instance, many letters
sent to the Central Council of Jews in Germany said, ―The Jews are doing to the
Palestinians exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews.‖
Schwarz-Friesel‘s training as a linguist helped her identify anti-Semitic motifs even in
letters that at first glance seemed innocent. An opening such as ―I‘m not an anti-Semite,
but ...‖ is liable to be a substitute for a general statement about ―Jewish‖ traits, which in
itself has anti-Semitic elements.
About 80 percent of the hate mail was anti-Israel. Surveying these letters led SchwarzFriesel to an unambiguous conclusion: ―Today, it‘s already impossible to distinguish
between anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism. Modern anti-Semites have turned ‗the Jewish
problem‘ into ‗the Israeli problem.‘ They have redirected the ‗final solution‘ from the
Jews to the State of Israel, which they see as the embodiment of evil.‖
The study‘s bottom line is gloomy. ―Anti-Semitism is embedded very deeply in Western
society, even after the Holocaust, all the learning of its lessons and the
memorialization,‖ Schwarz-Friesel said. ―For 2,000 years, they fashioned the image of
the Jews as the enemy of Christianity and of humanity. That‘s not a simple thing that
can be erased in 60 years. It‘s etched too deeply into the collective memory. Thus
people who see themselves as humanists and are familiar with the lessons of the
Holocaust permit themselves to express themselves in an anti-Semitic fashion even
Now, Schwarz-Friesel is busy with a new study of modern anti-Semitism on the Internet.
―It hasn‘t been confined to extreme right-wing sites for a long time now,‖ she said. ―It‘s
also on fairly ‗ordinary‘ sites.‖
I don’t usually get over excited about academic studies. However, in this case antiSemitism coming from the pens of educated Germans is troubling. The mixing up of
anti-Israel and antic-Semitic thinking is, of course, nothing new. However, it’s
depressing to see so much of it from the highly educated.
I’m not sure there is much that can actually be done about it. Widespread education
doesn’t seem to do the trick. That has been tried for the last 50 years without much
result. Anti-Semitism is like tuberculosis. It can be arrested but lies hidden in the body to
be given new life when the proper situation activates it.
It is well known that unhappiness with some Israeli policies trigger off anti-Semitism. Of
course, not everyone who has questions about Israel’s policies is anti-Semitic. Many
Jews don’t like some of the policies as well. However, Israel does provide those that
have negative feelings about Jews to hide those feelings and clothe them in political
terms. There is really nothing anybody can do about that sort of thing except point it out
and hope that people will question their own feelings.
I believe that even when Israel makes a peace arrangement with the Palestinians (They
will someday) the anti-Semitism surrounding the question will find another outlet or the
feeling of “not good enough” will emerge.
If you have any thoughts you have on the matter I would happy to hear from you.
Please drop me a note at email@example.com
See you again in March
DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be reached at
Both the American and Germany editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com