Germany / 04-09-2012
More prevention in schools
The researcher of antisemitism, Dr. Julian Wetzel, talks in an interview about images and pictures of the enemy among youngsters and about the source of the hatred of Jews.
Mrs. Wetzel, the attack on the Rabbi in Berlin is attributed presumably to Arab youngsters. Was it an isolated case, or do you notice a new characteristic of antisemitism among Muslim teenagers in Germany?
Isolated attacks have already occurred before. This is not new. We have noticed antisemitism among youngsters of Arab or Turkish background already at the beginning of the second Intifada, twelve years ago. The youngsters side with the Palestinians as the supposed victims of the Israelis, and then use old stereotypes from the arsenal of antisemitic sentiments of revulsion. A new quality may be found in the fact that the Rabbi not only suffered insults, but was beaten by whipping. But I would warn against a situation in which it is restated that it is always about the bad Muslims. There are isolated cases like this, and this antisemitism exists, which is relatively prevalent among youngsters of Turkish-Arab origin and which feeds on the Middle East conflict. It does not mean that these cases should not be very thoroughly investigated, and these subjects must be raised and dealt with in schools as a preventive work. But 90 percent of all the violent and criminal acts in Germany stem first and foremost - now as in the past - from the extreme right spectrum.
Wherefrom does this image of the enemy get to Muslim teenagers?
On the one hand from the family, but the media is also a crucial factor. Thus, for example there is in Berlin a large Palestinian community, with ties to relatives in the occupied territories. Most harbor antisemitic stereotypes, which are very quickly fed by antisemitic prejudices. In addition, in the satellite TV extremely antisemitic broadcasts and movies are shown. A typical example would be “Sara’s blue eyes”, in which a Palestinian girl is kidnapped at the behest of an Israeli officer who wants to obtain new eyes for his blind child. Or the beloved movie “Valley of Wolves”. Through movies like these, some of which have become cult movies among teenagers, stereotypes and incitement are naturally disseminated. It is also noteworthy that most of society relates to many of the clichés of the Muslim teenagers as well as to those of the extreme right people. It can be noticed, first and foremost, with regard to the Middle East conflict, where the Holocaust is compared to and identified with the Israeli politics.
According to several studies, 20 percent of the population is latent antisemites. What makes people still today vulnerable and easy to influence in this regard?
The Jews are the traditional scapegoat, mainly in times of crisis. Indeed many say that if the Middle East conflict is settled – there will be no more antisemitism. This is not true. Antisemitism uses the Middle East conflict as a platform, in order to be able nevertheless to express, precisely in Germany, classical antisemitic stereotypes. It is of no importance how many Jews live in a certain country. In Germany there are between 110,000 and 120,000 Jews; in Poland there are far fewer, and still there is very excessive antisemitism there.
So, there will always be antisemitism?
I am convinced of it. The surveys in the last 30 years point to continuous and persistent antisemitism of approximately 15 to 20 percent. I think this is the remnant of the residual filth, with which we probably must go on living. It is important that we try, in a much more forceful manner, through lessons and teaching, to deal with the modern forms of antisemitism. A visit of a memorial site or inviting a holocaust survivor is not the best answer to an antisemitic incident in school. There Jews become victims again and again, whereas the Middle East conflict is not dealt with at all. Indeed, teachers do learn something about the holocaust during their training, but not what the use today of antisemitic stereotypes means and not about everything that is being circulated via the Internet. This must change urgently. At times of empty coffers only few projects receive joint financing. There should have been certain continuity, in order to be able to raise and present the knowledge acquired.