An Old Evil Raises Its Weary Head

(TIME) Josef Joffe - General Reinhard Gunzel was the commander of Germany's fabled Special Ops force, the KSK. He was sacked for writing a letter praising the speech of an obscure backbencher named Martin Hohmann. Hohmann called the Jews not a nation of victims but a "nation of perpetrators," responsible for millionfold murder in the name of socialism and bolshevism. For Germans, the unspoken logic is this: if the Jews were as bad, or worse, than our forefathers, then they have no special moral claim on us. The original Holocaust was invented not by us, but by them; so let them stop pointing their fingers at us. If we are criminals, so are they. But if they aren't, how can we be? Thus, the score is evened, and we are (almost) out of the moral doghouse. Last year, the American Jewish Committee surveyed the opinions of 1,250 Germans. Only 17% said they would rather not have a Jew as neighbor; far less welcome were Arabs (43%) and Africans (26%). Do Jews have too much influence? No, said 52%, while 21% had no opinion. Seven out of 10 thought it "exceedingly" or "very important" that Germans learn about the Holocaust. Post-Holocaust anti-Semitism is enveloped in a most powerful taboo - people hide it and surveys underreport it. To hate Jews is not permissible in polite society, but to loathe Israel, and especially its prime minister, Ariel Sharon, carries no such stigma. Israel has become the uber-Jew, a legitimate target where individual Jews are not.

2003-11-13 00:00:00

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