German village
German villageISTOCK

The mad rush to create a new layer of bureaucracy in each of Germany’s 16 states by implementing positions titled “antisemitism commissioner” has backfired.

There is now a growing list of commissioners who stoke Jew-hatred, enable the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel, and ignore or mainstream genocidal Iranian regime and Palestinian Arab antisemitism.

They include the recently appointed commissioner for the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, the former Lutheran Bishop Gerhard Ulrich, whose sermons contain a dangerous mix of Christian-animated antisemitism and hatred of Israel.

Ulrich pins the blame for the Middle East conflict on Israel, claiming, “The name ‘Israel’ is burdened with the horror and misery of this Middle East war.”

He denounced Israel with a false and outlandish claim that it conducts its wars of self-defensive against Palestinian jihadi terrorist organizations as inspired by the Bible. “Therefore we cannot accept it when a modern state invokes this God and his promises when war is waged,” declared Ulrich.

The former bishop invoked an appalling parallel between the East German communist dictatorship and democratic Israel in 2017: “Here we see a wall that is significantly higher than the Berlin Wall, and we know that walls never bring peace. In Hebron, we got the impression that terror is produced there rather than overcome.”

There is no shortage of examples of Ulrich’s antisemitic tirades against Israel and Jews. The Simon Wiesenthal Center urged him to resign.

'Antisemtism Commissioners' like Ulrich and many of his counterparts are selling Jewish communities and the wider public unmitigated lies about their performances. Take the example of the commissioner in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, Michael Blume, who boasts of his supposed successes against the world’s oldest hatred.

Blume has garnered an international reputation as incorrigibly antisemitic. A court in Hamburg ruled in January that Blume can be termed antisemitic due to his attacks on Zionist icon Orde Wingate as well as for denigrating German Jews as “right-wing extremists.”

Blume’s labeling of the Israeli national hero and co-founder of the IDF as a “war criminal” prompted the IDF to rebuke him. Israel’s former ambassador to the US Dr. Michael Oren demanded his resignation. Israeli generals have criticized Blume’s severe incompetence and antisemitism.

Blume is the first commissioner to be cited in the Wiesenthal Center’s top ten lists of the worst outbreaks of antisemitism, in both 2021 and 2022. He has enabled BDS activity and Iranian regime antisemitism over the years.

While Blume engages in empty professional virtue signaling, antisemitic crimes have nearly doubled in his state. The number of antisemitic crimes has ballooned each year since Blume assumed his role as commissioner in 2018. According to government statistics from February, there is more than one antisemitic crime that unfolds every day in Baden-Württemberg, the most antisemitic German state in the Federal Republic.

In the state of Bavaria, commissioner Ludwig Spaenle has gone utterly silent about a Siemens AG boycott of Israel. The giant manufacturing corporation, which has its headquarters in Bavaria’s capital, Munich, reportedly signed a pro-BDS clause to win a contract to supply Turkey with high-speed trains.

Unsurprisingly, Spaenle devotes his time to defending the antisemitic civil servant Blume on his government website page. Spaenle has also shown no appetite for confronting Bavarian businesses that conduct trade with Iran’s regime, the world’s worst state-sponsor of terrorism, antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

I revealed last week that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s federal government report “National Strategy against Antisemitism and for Jewish Life” ignored the eliminatory antisemitism of the Islamic Republic, Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority.

When I asked Felix Klein, the federal commissioner tasked with combating antisemitism who presented the report, whether he planned to publish a second report on Iran’s regime, he refused to comment.

To make matters worse, Katharina von Schnurbein, a German national who is the European Commission’s commissioner assigned to combating antisemitism, has consistently refused to urge the EU to outlaw the antisemitic terrorist movement Hezbollah within Europe. In 2012, Hezbollah—the Iranian regime’s chief strategic partner—blew up an Israel tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria, murdering five Jewish Israelis and their Bulgarian Muslim bus driver.

While Schnurbein and Klein basked in the glory of their German National Strategy report by praising it as a “milestone,” veteran experts on antisemitism and counter-terrorism such as Israeli Brigadier General (res.) Amir Avivi and Rabbi Abraham Cooper from the Wiesenthal Center issued a scathing indictment of the document’s omissions.

Schnurbein, a newcomer to the fight against Jew-hatred, was also quick to mainstream Blume’s antisemitism and attack the Wiesenthal Center for its justified criticism of him.

All of this helps to show that Germany’s system of commissioners to fight antisemitism is only managing antisemitism and at times contributing to its rise.

The German Jewish community should follow the lead of British Jewry. The Jewish community in the UK created the Community Security Trust to provide “safety, security, and advice” to the country’s Jews.

Germany’s Jewish leaders have outsourced their security to a group of bureaucrats who do nothing to advance the security of German Jews, Israelis or Zionism.

The UK’s Community Security Trust and the self-defense and self-organization methods of Italy’s Jewish community furnish shining examples that can help Germany’s Jews empower themselves and no longer rely on state officials for a false sense of security.

If Germany’s dwindling Jewish population takes control of its destiny, it might help break down the fear that permeates so many communities where synagogues and Jewish community centers have been turned into fortresses.

The great German-speaking Jewish Zionist Max Nordau coined the phrase “Muscular Judaism” (Muskeljudentum) at the Second Zionist Congress in Basel in 1898. Will Germany’s Jews and their leaders embrace Nordau’s idea? Perhaps, but of course, the best option remains aliyah to a place where Jews can live free from the antisemitism that permeates Germany and practice their religion with dignity and respect.

Benjamin Weinthalis a Writing Fellow for the Middle East Forum.