Henryk Broder and the eternal anti-Semites of Europe
Henryk Broder and the eternal anti-Semites of Europe

The third-largest Swedish town Malmö is considered by many experts to be the capital of contemporary European anti-Semitism. A few of the many aspects that justify this characterization are exposed in part of a new German documentary titled “The eternal anti-Semite – the story of an unrequited love.” It was shown very early this morning –- on the occasion of the anniversary of Kristallnacht -- on Bavarian TV 

The film follows the German Jewish author, Henryk Broder, who travels in Germany, France and Sweden. He is often accompanied by Hamad abdel Samad, an Egyptian writer living in Germany. Several Egyptian Muslim theologians have issued a fatwa that abdel Samad must killed for heresy. In the film he is seen with police bodyguards. 

Before Broder and Abdel Samad came to Malmö they made appointments with the head of the police and the mayor, but those were cancelled at the last minute. They met the town’s American rabbi, Shneur Kesselman. He tells them that the shrinking community had to put bullet proof windows in the synagogue. Even that did not help. A bomb went off in front of the synagogue and another bomb was thrown into the chapel of the Jewish cemetery and totally destroyed it. 

The rabbi, who belongs to the Chabad movement, says that he is regularly harassed when walking on the street. From passing cars people may shout insults at him such as “Death to the Jews.” Objects thrown at him include an apple, a lighter, a glass and a bottle. Kesselman arrived in  Malmö twelve years ago. He says that if he had known the reality for Jews in the town he would not have come, but now he will not leave out of loyalty toward the shrinking Jewish community.

Kesselman expects many children of community members to leave Malmö. A few weeks ago, long after the movie was completed, stones again shattered the synagogue’s windows. On that occasion a former chairman of the Jewish community told the press that most incidents are perpetrated by Muslims or Arabs.  

A Jewish teacher at a public elementary school in a problematic neighborhood in Malmö is also interviewed. He speaks about shootings in the neighborhood, sometimes with lethal consequences. Children from other classes sometimes open the class doors and shout anti-Semitic insults at him. An eleven year old yelled Heil Hitler. The school’s management does not want to publicize the anti-Semitic incidents saying: “they are only children.”

Before driving through a Malmö neighborhood with a large number of migrants, the police warns the filmmakers that they should not leave the car or even stop. This translates into plain English as: “This is a Muslim ghetto where the police have lost control.”

The moviemakers use the word “migrants” throughout while the viewer has to understand himself that they refer to Muslims. This part of the documentary is a frontal accusation of the progressive authorities in Malmö and many other Swedish towns. 

In Germany Broder and Abdel Samad visit a Jewish restaurant owner – an Iraqi Jew – in Munich. He tells them that recently he had to close his second restaurant. He often faces anti-Semitic insults and harassment that come mainly from Germans. The filmmakers also visit Naumburg in the region of Saxony-Anhalt. There they meet a Holocaust denier who tells them that there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz. 

The interviewee has been a mayor of a village on behalf of the Social Democrats. He later switched to the neo-Nazi party NPD. After he stated that the Holocaust was a myth he was condemned for Holocaust denial in two lower courts. The regional high court in Naumburg then absolved him. 

In Hildesheim a debate about extreme anti-Semitic material against Israel inserted in a seminar course at the higher local college of Applied Sciences and Arts (HAWK) is shown. A few examples of pictures comparing Israel to Nazis are shown by a panel member. The college president says that she is not convinced that the seminar contained anti-Semitic content.

Broder comments that the Nazis knew how to define a Jew, but nowadays some Germans have difficulty in defining anti-Semitism. In Cologne a visit is made to an art fair where a picture shows a swastika or a star of David depending on the viewing angle. The fair takes place in the building from where Jews and others were sent to extermination camps during the war. 

In France the old Paris neighborhood around the Rue des Rosiers is visited. The plaque of the former Goldenberg restaurant is shown on the wall. In 1982 Palestinians killed six visitors and wounded twenty two there. Armed soldiers patrol the neighborhood.

The movie was made by Broder and Joachim Schroeder. Another movie produced by the latter, Chosen and Excluded – The Hate for Jews in Europe, was initially censored earlier this year by the French-German TV channel Arte which had commissioned it. Later it was shown by the German public broadcaster WDR which mutilated the film by interrupting it with many critical remarks. 

Finally Broder tries to analyze what is happening in Europe. He discusses this with a friend, the Dutch Jewish novelist Leon de Winter. As they cannot explain the anti-Semitism, De Winter concludes with the remark that in the past no one had more love for Europe than the Jews. This love went unreturned. He thinks that the last phase of the existence of Jews in Europe is now taking place. De Winter predicts that European Jewry will disappear in 40-50 years. That remains to be seen, however. 

Currently the movie is only in German. Adding English subtitles will make it accessible, as it deserves to be, to a much larger audience.