Wednesday, January 03, 2007

German Leftists fight Antisemites and Anti-Zionists

The caption above Ahmadinejad's head reads "I want nuclear holocaust."
The text below calls for a demonstration against "the most dangerous politician of our time."
See I Like Israel for info.

Germany today is one of the few countries in the world in which committed groups of non-Jewish, left-wing activists actively support Israel. In other European countries, the kind of coalition behind the upcoming protest advertised in the poster above would have been impossible. Just imagine an alliance consisting of religious and secular Jewish organizations, leftist anti-fascist student groups, Israeli-German friendship associations, and foundations (run and funded by non-Jews) committed to fighting antisemitism. Only in America would the kind of action organized by "I like Israel" attract a significant amount of support from non-Jews; it would come almost entirely from the right of the political spectrum.

While elsewhere in the world, radical leftism is synonymous with anti-Zionism, a small but significant number of German neo-Marxists and anti-fascists, who maintain a number of impressive print publications, unequivocally define anti-Zionism as a form of antisemitism. Most of these pro-Israel German leftists define themselves as "anti-Deutsch" - that is, opposed to German nationalism. For several decades, they have been fighting what they perceive as the re-appearance of antisemitism and nationalism through the backdoors of leftist anti-imperialism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Zionism. They have also tenaciously opposed the self-serving equations of Nazi atrocities with Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories by some German intellectuals, in the process drawing attention to the convergence of Holocaust deniers, Muslim fundamentalists, and pro-Palestinian groups. Often, these young, highly-educated activists challenge neo-Nazi groups as well as the ubiquitous keffiyeh-clad shock-troops of the anti-globalization, anti-American, anti-Israel left on the streets of Germany's large cities. Unlike leftists in England, France, and Berkeley, California, they do not underestimate the virulent antisemitism sweeping through much of the Muslim world. They see it as the historical responsibility of Germans to oppose the genocidal rhetoric of individuals such as Iranian President Ahmadinejad and organizations such as Hamas.

Living in Berlin several years ago, at the height of the second intifada, I had the opportunity to meet a number of organizers from the ranks of the anti-Deutsche. Most of them emphasized that they are "unfortunately only a small part of the German left." They were often deeply critical and pessimistic about the German discourse on Israel and the Middle East, noting rampant bias against Israel in the media. At the same time, they also expressed fears about the resurgence of neo-Nazi groups in the former East Germany and the resulting increase in attacks on "foreigners." I was therefore pleased to read an article by Assaf Uni, "The good men of Leipzig ," in Ha'aretz a few days ago (thanks for the reference, Ima), which described the relative success of the anti-Deutsche in this city.

1 comment:

zed said...

Alas, you are right that in most countries the "far left" would be in league with anti-Zionists. I am American, and I loosely identify with the Green party and often vote for its candidates (even though they have no chance of winning).

But in these past elections, I could not do so. I received an e-mail from the Green candidate for Senate in my state, which asked me to stand with him against "Israeli state terrorism." Now, I was utterly against the Israeli aerial bombing assault on Lebanon this past summer. But this e-mail had not a mention of Hezbollah's crimes whatsoever. Disgusted, I unsubscribed from their list immediately.