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Does Germany Still Want the Jews?

Questions are emerging about Germany’s Jewish future

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Knife's Edge Rally for Religious Freedom on Saturday in Berlin(DPA)

On Saturday at Bebelplatz, the site where thousands of books were torched by the Nazis in 1933 for being “un-German,” roughly 300 German Muslims and Jews gathered to rally against the court ruling in Cologne back in May, which banned non-medical circumcision.

They also were protesting a legal solution offered by the Berlin State Ministry of Justice that would allow ritual circumcisions only by medical practitioners. Jewish and Muslim leaders have vehemently rejected the solution, as have organizations dedicated to child protection. The latter has vowed to fight the ruling to the German Supreme Court if necessary in order to protect the rights of children to remain unharmed.

The rally-goers were buoyed by support from 50 different organizations including the German Protestant Church and the Berlin archbishopric. The former chairwoman of the Jewish community in Berlin spoke as well as the current chairman of the sizable Turkish community.

Despite an event like this or a recent rally following a brutal attack on a rabbi, the German newspaper Der Spiegel devoted some serious space in its Sunday paper to report on the status of the German Jewish community, specifically to ask whether or not Jews see a future for themselves in Germany.

The responses were startling. Take Charlotte Knobloch for example. A mainstay of the community, she served as the chairwoman of the Central Council of Jews in Berlin and wrote a book in defense of her decision to live in Germany. The book won’t be published until October, but in the past few months the tenor of the circumcision debate has seemingly changed her entire outlook on the viability of Jewish life in Germany.

Since late June, when the Cologne regional court ruled that doctors who circumcise a boy for religious reasons can be accused of committing bodily injury, it seems as if everything has changed for her. “I seriously ask if this country still wants us,” she wrote in an editorial for daily Süddeutsche Zeitung last week. In her view, circumcision is an essential ritual of the Jewish faith. She was surprised by how many opponents of the practice spoke out, especially doctors and lawyers. Some simply wanted to prevent children being circumcised, but others seemed to suggest that Jews and Muslims wanted to wantonly mutilate and traumatize their children.

Knobloch wrote that she had defended the continued presence of Jews in Germany for decades, “even though Jews are abused verbally and beaten so badly they need to be hospitalized.” She also said that Jewish religious foundations were being “dragged through the mud” by the debate, which “casts doubt over the future of the already tiny Jewish population in Germany.”

Recent events point to an unmooring of sorts for the Jews of Germany. In addition to the circumcision debate, which Jews see as an attack on a basic tenet of their faith, and the recent assault on Rabbi Daniel Alter (which led the chancellor of the rabbinical seminary in Potsdam to instruct his students not to wear kippot in public), recent revelations surrounding the ham-fisted police response to the 1972 massacre at the Munich Olympics have seemingly made old wounds raw.

Much has converged in recent months. First, there was the 40th anniversary of the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, an event which once again highlighted the ignorance of Germany’s police officers and politicians. Then there was Günter Grass’ controversial poem about Israel. Some have also been offended by the fact that Judith Butler, a vocal critic of Israel, will be awarded the Adorno Prize this week.

And then there are the repeated attacks on Jews, mostly by right-wing extremists, but also by Muslims. In the first half of 2012, there were 13 violent attacks, 11 of them carried out by neo-Nazis. Although Jews and Jewish establishments in Germany were attacked on only 16 occasions in 2011, compared with 114 in France, this is no cause for celebration.

Earlier: Berliners Don Kippot in Solidarity
40 Years After the Munich Massacre [The Scroll]
Jews Question Their Future in Germany [Der Spiegel]
Hundreds rally for freedom to circumcise [DW]
Seminary Warns Against Wearing Kippot in Public [INN]

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mishamb says:

So that whole Holocaust thing a few years back wasn’t a tip off?

    Jews are idiots. Look at Rabbis for Obama

      robthom says:

      I wouldn’t say that they’re idiots,
      far from it.

      But the German economy is doing well these days and hey,
      are they supposed to resist that?


      Avshalom Beni says:

      You mean 70% of the Jews in America are idiots (according to the most recent polls), while the remaining 30% are the intellectually and morally gifted supporters of religious fanaticism and extremist right wing nationalist agendas in America as well as here in Israel. Thanks for clarifying the issue.

jacob_arnon says:

Jews not wanted in Germany, what a shocking surprise!

It takes a lot of forgetting (or plain idiocy) for a Jew to live in Germany and call themselves Germans.

DeutscherMichel says:

It is questionable whether a lot of Germans would nod along when asked whether they would want more Jews. Even 60 years later the relations are still difficult and Israels policies, seen by some as dangerous and unacceptable certainly do not help.
I think a lot of people would not mind more Germans who happen to be Jews. At least i would not mind.

    (‘Deutscher Michel’ is a generic name for the average German, like ‘Joe American’ in the USA.)

    You’re never going to get back the glory days of the old German-Jewish culture (Heine, Mendelssohn, Einstein)–there’s just too much bad blood. Mostly just a few Israelis, who aren’t known for their pleasant personalities anyway and who, in Germany, have that whole ‘you killed Grandma’ chip on their shoulders.

    Hey, there’s always the USA. I’m inclined to think the evangelicals will try to convert us instead of kill us. I recall the evangelical lady on Youtube with the title ‘How Satan is Trying to Destroy Your Marriage’. Apparently, her answer to keeping marriages together is to give the husband nookie whenever he wants it. I mourn the loss of 6000 years of culture, but this could have benefits.

Does Germany Still Want the Jews? Not really – but they have to! ……all that Jew stuff is sooo boring – don’t take yourself so important.

Wiley’s Definitions: Religion = the root of all evil

I hope really that our Kippa flashmops change this situation. II love the Yews an I love Israel

we have the worst experience with the Jews. They killed 70.000.000 of us.
The blasphemy organized by them in our churches was the tactical move of their commisioners. The same are they doing, their graddughters doing, e.g. pussy riots. Who would like them?

    Even if you’re Ukrainian and blame the Jews for the Holodomor (a weird proposition to start, as I’m sure Stalin’s desire to smash the Ukrainian nation had something to do with it), you misplaced a decimal point.

      Beatrix17 says:

      You have much more patience with these idiots than I have. I just assumed he was crazy.

brian2907 says:

A Jew chooses to live in Germany and then complains that, shock horror, Germans don’t like Jews after all. Who knew?

This is a foolish and superficial article. The circumcision debate has not been restricted to Germany nor even to Europe if you consider what went on in San Francisco with a referendum that foes of circumcision wanted put on the ballot. One attack on a man wearing a kippah does not a crisis make. and note the remarkable response (among others) by a semi flash mob of 1000 people or more wearing kippot in solidarity. see, for example, the article in Tablet itself,
And as far as Munich 1972 goes, well, that was 1972.


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Does Germany Still Want the Jews?

Questions are emerging about Germany’s Jewish future

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