There is another factor that is contributing to this alarming rise in anti-Semitism, and that is education, or the lack thereof. Too few young people know of the atrocities that occurred just 70 years ago, and this ignorance is causing a rise in hatred. Education is going to be a leading factor in reducing anti-Semitism. Teaching students about the atrocities of the past and the importance of tolerance of all people is key to this fight.
If there is one country on earth that should be extremely sensitive to anti-Semitism, it is Germany. But Germany has failed to combat all forms of anti-Semitism, from the far-right, and the far-left. And, apparently, a lot of German never stopped or started again believing this hatred.
On Yom Kippur, the only reason why the carnage in Halle was contained to two murders was because of security measures taken by the Jewish community and the unexpected failure of the assassin’s weapon. It was not stopped by the German government. No police officers were posted in front of the Synagogue entrance. How could this be?
Days before the Halle attack, a Syrian man in Germany broke through a synagogue’s security barrier, screamed profanities towards Israel as well as “Allahu Akbar” and pulled a combat knife. He was simply charged with disturbing the peace and released. This not, in any way, shape or form merely disturbing the peace. How could this be?
Germany has six million reasons to be sensitive to neo-Nazi movements as well as left-wing hatred of Jews, but it has come up woefully short in combatting their recent resurgence – especially with police and the judiciary lacking behind.
Given Germany’s history, this lack of awareness and utter failure to protect German Jews is unacceptable and cannot continue. Germany has a unique obligation to ensure something like the Holocaust never happens again, and the recent rise in anti-Semitism underscores the need for increased vigilance and education.
It is for this reason that the WJC is pushing for a dedicated campaign to fight anti-Semitism in Germany. One that will focus on education and fostering relationships between Jewish leaders, the Jewish community, and indeed, German society as whole – of all ideologies and all religions.
Last Friday, the German government headed by interior minister Horst Seehofer announced an important package of action points to fight anti-Semitism in Germany. I highly appreciate Mr. Seehofer’s initiative and I am looking forward to implement together with him and others a comprehensive list of overdue bold measures like:
- Enhancing security at Synagogues and schools
- Broadening the legal definition of anti-Semitism
- Increasing penalties for those who commit antisemitic attacks, elevating them above other hate crimes
- Increase penalties for those who post antisemitic hate speech online
- Implementing the entire catalogue of recommendations from the Independent Expert Group on anti-Semitism
- Calling on all party leaders to dismiss anti-Semites from their groups
- Dissolving several far-right groups
In the end, let’s remember one important fact: The hatred that began with the Jewish people, did not ended with the Jewish people. Seventy-five years ago, when it was all over, Germany’s foray into the darkness of anti-Semitism left 6 million Jews dead. But you should never forget that it also left Germany in ruins and 60 million more dead around the world.
This is where the hatred of Jews will lead and for your sake as well as mine, it must never happen again.
Ronald S. Lauder, born 1944 in New York, is an American businessman, diplomat and the president of the World Jewish Congress.