Mittelweg 36, 13 (2004), 2

Titel der Ausgabe 
Mittelweg 36, 13 (2004), 2
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Neuer Antisemitismus?

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96 Seiten, illustriert
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Hansel, Patricia

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13. Jahrgang, April / Mai 2004, Nr. 2

Introduction to the focal point of this issue

Ulrich Bielefeld und Nikola Tietze
New anti-Semitism or new Judeophobia?

Recently, what is either a renewal of anti-Semitism or a growing wave of new anti-Semitism has been observed in Europe. Exactly what kind of anti-Semitism this is has been the subject of controversy.1 Some claim that the proponents of this form of anti-Semitism are new, namely, immigrants to Europe of Muslim origin and their children.2Furthermore, this anti-Semitism is seen as extremely threatening3 and potentially violent, as demonstrated by the records of anti-Semitic crimes committed in France since the beginning of the second Intifada in Israel.4 Islamic anti-Semitism has joined forces with a new form of anti-Zionism that is being propagated by anti-racists as well as third world, pro-Palestinian, and anti-globalization activists.

Thus, there is a need for action; at the very least, we should be watchful and observant. A change of paradigm appears to be in the offing: increasingly, racism and anti-Semitism are becoming separate phenomena. The new Judeophobia combines traditional anti-Semitism with a perception of "Zionism" as the incarnation of evil.5 Whereas until recently it seemed that anti-racists, who opposed in particular discrimination of immigrants, were almost identical as a group with anti-anti-Semitics, so that animosities towards foreigners could be considered potentially or latently anti-Semitic, now this connection would no longer appear to be self-evident and indeed may often no longer exist. Today, what constitutes a left or right political position is ambiguous, as is the definition of what in fact can be labeled anti-racist and anti-Semitic.

Once familiar categories of interpretation are currently being distorted to the point of becoming unrecognizable by global events and processes that not only been planned here but also affect Europe. The terrorist bombings in Madrid on 11 March and their direct consequences are just the most recent latest example. The attacks of 11 September 2001 were planned by young Arabs who perceived themselves as Muslims and generally belonged to the well-educated middle classes of their respective countries and some of whom lived in Hamburg at the time the attacks were planned.

Parallel to the rise of anti-western, anti-modern, religiously motivated Islamist movements, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has become increasingly relevant in Europe and throughout the world. With the second Intifada and Israel’s military reaction, immigrant youths living in Europe who perceive themselves as victims of racial discrimination and repression have embraced the resultant opportunities for identification. The conflict in the Middle East can be seen as a symbol for the split dividing the entire world, as a kind of substitute for the east-west conflict. It offers clear-cut categories easily associated with calls for solidarity, attributions of guilt, and definitions of the enemy. Whether and to what extent, this conflict also leads to a predisposition for perpetrating anti-Semitic violence is an empirical question and one which can only be answered by considering the dynamic interplay between interpretive patterns, on the one hand, and the intrinsic logic of conditions which vary from country to country, on the other. Abstract analysis of ideological structures can, at best, merely complement empirical analysis of how self-thematization actually takes shape.

In Germany, a country with both less Jews and less Muslims (and, in particular, less Muslims of Arabic origin) than France, public debate of these issues began when it become know that the EUMC, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, had commissioned a study on anti-Semitism but then withheld the results from publication. The debate intensified after the attacks on synagogues in Istanbul; these bombings directly affected Turkey, the country of origin of the majority of Muslims now living in Germany. The EUMC’s study reported an increase in anti-Semitic crimes and conflicts in France and Belgium.6 For Germany, there was no evidence of an increase in crimes motivated by anti-Semitism and no sign of significant, specifically Muslim-oriented or, more precisely, Islamist anti-Semitism within the country’s immigrant population. However, Germany has also experienced the development of radical Islamist tendencies; the so-called "Caliph of Cologne” as well as the increasing attractiveness of other Islamist groups, which offer opportunities for identification for youths and other segments of the immigrant population, bear witness to this fact.

Insights into and speculation about the links between anti-Semitism and Islamism in France cannot simply be applied to the situation in other countries. Public debate about Islamist anti-Semitism in Germany was immediately preceded by public outcry over a controversial speech held by Martin Hohmann, a Christian Democratic member of the German Bundestag, on 3 October 2003.7 Numerous previous German debates about anti-Semitism, which generally emerged parallel to public controversies about the country’s Nazi past, were linked to the names of politicians, writers, or other prominent figures from public life. As a problem of the society of the Federal Republic of Germany, anti-Semitism was for the most part related only to the New Right. In Germany’s political culture, the topic remained for the most part taboo and was excluded from public debate.

According to a very sweeping historical categorization, modern anti-Semitism within the European and Christian tradition can be divided into two phases. The nationalist and racist anti-Semitism of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century did not merely dissolve after the defeat of National Socialism but was generally delegitimated. Since the annihilation of the European Jews, any form of anti-Semitism takes this occurrence into consideration. Moreover, every kind of anti-Semitism must take into consideration a second fact: the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. Despite the undisputed uniqueness of the history of the founding of the Jewish state, the narrative of Israel’s birth can also be told in a manner similar to the history of numerous other state-building and nation-building processes, namely as events linked to violence and expulsion, to processes of standardization and recognition, to wars and political conflicts. Zionism, too, can be interpreted as a form of nationalism and thus there are convincing arguments that can be brought to bear against it. Anti-Zionism, however, is blind to history and senseless, in particular, when anti-Zionists themselves makes use of nationalistic or even racist arguments (which is what many critics of Israel do).

The changes in the shape anti-Semitism takes today are occurring on a global level, despite the many national-regional variations that still exist. In Germany, where anti-Semitism is taboo to an extent not found in any other European country, anti-Semitic attitudes are treated as a problem of the "others" – the right, the few, and more recently, the Muslims – or projected back into the past. In France, where racism is rightfully regarded as a problem of the country’s own post-colonial society, the controversy over anti-Semitism must be considered within the context of debates about the relationship between religion and politics, debates which have ignited around the concept of laïcité and the problem of the headscarf as a symbol of religious affiliation. This opens up an internal link between anti-Semitism, religion, and the so-called crisis of schools, or rather, of national education (l’éducation citoyenne). Public schools are unable to educate what Durkheim called "moral individuals", to transpose these individuals from the private into the public sphere, to free them from their original identities, and to turn them into political subjects. The French school, l’école publique, not only functions as an institution which educates individuals and assigns them a place in society; its most significant function lies in the constitution of each pupil as a moral individual and thus as a French citizen. Anti-Semitism is a problem in France because being anti-Semitic contradicts the idea of the citoyen. For this reason, anti-Semitism is regarded in France as a phenomenon that testifies to the failure of institutions and therefore to a crisis of French society.

The French debate, as it has been introduced into the German context, reflects only part of the discussion in Germany’s neighbor state. And this debate is applied to a segment of Germany’s population that shares two characteristics with the comparable segment of France’s population: both groups are made up of Muslims and these Muslims are immigrants or the children of immigrants. The majority of Germany’s Muslim population is of Turkish origin (1.9 out of a total of 3.2 million people). In this comparison, two contradictory myths clash: the myth of the non-existence of Turkish anti-Semitism and the myth of Islamist anti-Semitism as a merely imported phenomenon. Both myths will prove to be untenable. There can be no doubt that Turkish anti-Semitism exists but not all Muslim Turks are Islamist anti-Semites. And the preconditions that facilitate the identification of German-Turkish and Muslim youths with Islamist movements or with Palestinian fighters–as well as the reasons for the mobilization of anti-Semitic interpretative frameworks–must be sought in German society.

1 The question "Quel antisémitisme?" has been posed by Charles Zarka, for example, in the journal Cités ,12, 2002. Both the term and the issue of what phenomenon is actually being observed are controversial.
2 Cf. Thomas Schmid, "Der neue Antisemitismus", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 27 Feb. 2004.
3 In an article in the German newspaper Die Welt ("Israel schlagen, den Westen meinen", 1 March 2004) Richard Herzinger noted that "islamist Judeophobia meets with a certain lenience […] one sees in it an expression of the desperation of a repressed culture". Islamist anti-Semitism is taken less seriously than neo-Nazi anti-Semitism.
4 Cf. for example the list complied by the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France of anti-Semitic acts of violence committed in France: index.php?dossier=1&menu=5.
5 Cf. Pierre-André Taguieff, "Retour sur la nouvelle judéophobie", in: Cités 12, 2002, pp. 117 – 134, this reference p. 133. The article summarizes the arguments presented by Taguieff in his book La nouvelle judéophobie, Paris 2002.
6 See Werner Bergmann and Juliane Wetzel, Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the European Union. First Semester 2002, Synthesis Report, Vienna, März 2003. On this debate see also: Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung, Newsletter 26, December 2003, "Antisemitismusstudie im Rampenlicht".
7 Cf. Michael Wildt: "›Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz.‹ Ein kurzer Nachtrag zur Hohmann-Rede", in: Mittelweg 36, vol. 13, 1/2004, pp. 88 – 92.

Content of the focal point
Étienne Balibar: Dissonanzen in der Laizität

Michel Wieviorka: Der Antisemitismus heute

Further articles:
Jan Philipp Reemtsma: Wozu Gedenkstätten?

The essay examines the various functions of memorial sites in the history of post-war Germany. Initially being locations where empirical evidence of realities which tended to be ignored by a wider public were gathered the memorial sites also served and still serve as symbolic cemeteries where the nameless victims of Nazi atrocities could be mourned. Then they developed into public spaces of historical recollection which confront the visitor with the dilemma of modern historiography. Although it certainly enriches our historical knowledge it is incapable to disclose an undisputable meaning of the past. Thus the ultimate destination of these memorial sites consists in providing a palpable experience that human civilization and its normative content is fragile. A notion of this fragility which is internally linked to a moral sentiment of shame is all a memorial site has to offer.

Klaus Naumann: Institutionalisierte Ambivalenz. Deutsche Erinnerungspolitik und Gedenkkultur nach 1945

The history of German politics of memory and memorial culture in the post-1945 era can best be described as an ambivalent search vacillating between remembrance and denial, between taboo and scandal. It was in this point that the otherwise so contradictory private and public memories of National Socialism and war came together. This ambivalence was written into the structure of the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany. It was not until the 1980s that it became apparent that no "final stroke" could be drawn under the German past.. Since then, unified Germany must face new challenges in seeking appropriate language and symbols for the diverse communities of memory that have arisen within the context of European politics of memory.

Gilad Margalit. Gedenk- und Trauerkultur im Nachkriegsdeutschland. Anmerkungen zur Architektur

The official remembrance and mourning in both German states came into being, during the Cold War as a sort of compromise between two competing perceptions and memories of the Second World War: On the one hand, there were elements of the collective German memory of the war; these were shared by the majority of Germans who followed Hitler with varying degrees of consent to the bitter end. On the other hand, there were the anti-Nazi perceptions and memories of the war shared by various groups of the German opposition, that together formed only a tiny minority of German society, as well as the public opinion in the countries of the victorious Allies.

In der Literaturbeilage:
Regina Mühlhäuser: Sexuelle Gewalt als Kriegsverbrechen: Eine Herausforderung für die Internationale Strafgerichtsbarkeit

In jeder Ausgabe:
Wolfgang Kraushaar: Aus der Protest-Chronik
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