Germany / 18-10-2012
The Vice President of the Bundestag Demands a Strategy to Fight Antisemitism
Berlin – Wolfgang Thierse, Vice President of the Bundestag and a member of the SPD party, demanded that the government increase its efforts to fight antisemitism. “The government must present a strategy to fight antisemitism and strengthen its existing programs to counter the extreme right-wing,” Thierse told the DAPD news agency. He spoke on Wednesday, right before the Bundestag's meeting on antisemitism. He said government commitments have fallen short of their promise. “Today, programs are funded for a while before they are shut down. The need still exists, yet the commitment disappears – this cannot continue,” Thierse said.
Recent events, including the attack on the Rabbi in Berlin and the assault against the General Secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, are evidence of “very troubling developments. It is clear that this topic cannot be ignored,” said the SPD representative. “The government must present an operative plan to address this challenge.”
The vice president presented his own plan. “A federal foundation should oversee all the funds that states and government earmark for this cause. This money should be spent on various efforts to counter antisemitism, racism, and the extreme right-wing.” According to Thierse, this will ensure that the efforts to combat negative attitudes towards minorities receive ongoing and continuous support.
Thierse also demanded to cancel the extremism clause. “It does not make sense that efforts to combat the extreme right-wing should be suspected as initiatives of the extreme left. Instead of deepening the commitment to such programs, this is detrimental to them. The controversial clause requires that any and all initiatives commit themselves to democratic bylaws and obliges partner organizations to do the same. Last year, an independent panel of experts on antisemitism published its findings. In 2009, the experts were commissioned by Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU party), who was the Minister of the Interior at the time. In November 2008, a number of parties, including SPD, FDP, the Green Party and the left, demanded to increase the struggle against antisemitism. Their call came on the 40th anniversary of Kristallnacht, which took place on November 9, 1939.
According to the researchers, approximately 20% of Germans have antisemitic views, while “the extreme right-wing is the main perpetrator of this phenomenon.” The experts voiced criticism about the lack of coordination between efforts to fight antisemitism, as well as Germany's lack of an overarching strategy to this end.