An exemplary form of Jewish resistance against one of Germany’s leading pro-Iran regime and anti-Israel politicians unfolded last week at Jewrovision, the international song and dance competition for European Jews aged 10-19.
Young German Jews booed the Green Party’s federal culture minister, Claudia Roth, during her speech at the competition in Frankfurt on May 19, drowning out her remarks. The protestors directed their pent-up anger toward Roth with calls of “Get off the stage!” and “You’re not welcome here!”
To quote the famous song by The Who, “The kids are alright.” But why are so many adults in Germany, including those charged with combating Jew-hatred, tolerating Roth’s antisemitic and pro-Iran-regime policies?
Roth is largely responsible for permitting an antisemitic group of Indonesian artists know as Taring Padi to show a mural at the state-funded exhibit in Kassel depicting a fanged religious Jew wearing a fedora labeled with the letters of the Nazi SS. The mural also depicted an Israeli soldier with the face of a pig and a helmet tagged with the word “Mossad.”
Roth ignored warnings ahead of the Documenta exhibit that it would be riddled with Jew-hatred and that anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) activists were key players in its organization. She enabled Documenta to ban Israeli Jews from participating in what is billed as the world’s most important contemporary art exhibit.
Roth is notorious for her failure to combat the antisemitic BDS campaign. In 2019, the Bundestag did the bare minimum by passing a resolution classifying BDS as antisemitic. Roth rejected it.
Her hardcore anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activities have morphed into her support for the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s worst state-sponsor of antisemitism, Holocaust denial and terrorism.
In 2019, Roth and her Green Party plunged into an antisemitism scandal when Roth, a vice president of the Bundestag at the time, enthusiastically greeted the then-speaker of the Iranian regime’s phony parliament, Ali Larijani.
This is the same Larijani who denied the Holocaust at the 2009 Munich Security Conference and who seeks the obliteration of Israel.
I documented Roth’s 2010 meeting with Ali Larijani and his brother, Mohammad-Javad, in Tehran, writing in The Wall Street Journal. Mohammad-Javad denied the Holocaust in Berlin in 2008 while visiting the German foreign ministry. He also called for the destruction of Israel.
Roth and the Greens have gone to great lengths to mainstream the Larijani brothers. The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dr. Josef Schuster, has yet to call for Roth to resign.
Sergey Lagodinsky, a German Green Party member of the European Parliament, has defended Roth’s behavior. Her party colleague Volker Beck, who is the head of the nominally pro-Israel group German-Israel Friendship Association, should be calling for Roth to resign or be fired.
Beck has put his career interests ahead of Jewish and Israeli security. Roth defended Beck when he was caught in possession of crystal meth.
The Jewrovision protest against Roth illustrates the rift between a young, albeit tiny, group of German Jews and the establishment Jewish community that goes to great lengths to dodge any clash with German state-sponsored antisemitism.
Thirteen years ago, the German-Jewish journalist and author Henryk Broder noted: “If there's anything you can count on 100%, it's the slavish obedience of German Jews. If you tell them to line up, they line up. If you tell them to be at the station at 5 in the morning, they set the alarm for 4 so they don't arrive late.”
Broder, who pens a column for Die Welt newspaper, wrote the above in response to the failure of Frankfurt Jewish leaders to walk out during a talk by the anti-Israel fanatic Alfred Grosser, who was being honored by the city in its Paulskirche assembly hall.
Does the protest by a minuscule group of young German Jews portend a breakdown of the servility so long displayed by so many German Jews toward their government?
There is no shortage of examples of the slavish fealty of German Jews toward their government.
Take the example of Barbara Traub, the head of the Jewish community in Württemberg (which includes Stuttgart) involved in an alleged corruption scandal. Traub has not urged Stuttgart’s Mayor Frank Nopper to delete the Palestine Committee Stuttgart’s posts on the municipal website. The pro-BDS group Palestine Committee Stuttgart promotes the Israel-classified terrorist entity Samidoun.
Traub also has not objected to the German “antisemitism czar” Michael Blume likening Israelis to Nazis and calling Orde Wingate, a founder of the Haganah, the pre-state IDF precursor, a “war criminal.”
The head of Freiburg’s Jewish community, Irina Katz, has not called for the largely pro-Iran-regime mayor, Martin Horn, to end his city’s twin city partnership with the Iranian regime-controlled city of Isfahan, which stages an annual al-Quds event calling for Israel’s destruction. Katz has recently spent her time demonstrating against Israel’s efforts to reform its judiciary.
In Hamburg, the Jewish community refuses to weigh in on outbreaks of hatred targeting Israel.
Schuster has not urged the German government to end the over $1 billion trade relationship with Iran’s regime and to sever diplomatic relations with Tehran.
In Munich, Jewish leaders went silent as Ludwig Spaenle, the bureaucrat assigned to combat antisemitism in Munich and the state of Bavaria, declined to criticize the multinational corporation Siemens, which helped carry out the Holocaust, when it signed a pro-BDS contract with a Turkish company. Siemens, the largest industrial manufacturing company in Europe, is headquartered in Bavaria. Spaenle’s new report on combating antisemitism omits references to Iran’s regime and the Siemens antisemitism scandal.
In the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, the Jewish community’s leaders have accepted a former Lutheran bishop, Gerhard Ulrich, as the commissioner tasked with fighting antisemitism. The Simon Wiesenthal Center urged Ulrich to resign due to his antisemitic sermons while serving as a religious leader.
The kids are alright but the adults have problems in Germany. To quote another British band, the Sex Pistols, “There's no future, No future No future for you” in Germany.
As the German-Israeli writer Chaim Noll noted on the German website The Axis of Good on Monday, there are roughly 9,000 young German Jews facing millions of young antisemitic German Muslims and Germans, many of whom are informed by lethal Jew-hatred. The future is bleak in the Federal Republic.
German Jews of any age who want to live a life of freedom should make aliyah.
Benjamin Weinthal is a Writing Fellow for the Middle East Forum.