“The old hatred of Jews – it’s here again,” said Charlotte Knobloch, adding that the Middle East conflict is currently just a pretext for many to vent their anger against Jews. Knobloch is the President of the Jewish community of Munich and the Upper Bavaria region. The 82-year-old survived the holocaust, and says she is shocked about the open anti-Semitic slogans shouted in German streets and about the fact that the German population has been keeping silent. . . . “People curse at us, they insult us, they threaten us and physically attack us.”
In France, too, mobs have shouted “Death to Jews!” and ransacked Jewish shops and synagogues. In the town of Wuppertal, in western Germany, a barrage of molotov cocktails rained down on the entrance of the local synagogue on Monday night. In almost daily demonstrations in Berlin, some protesters have gone from expressions of solidarity with Palestinians to overtly anti-Semitic chants and songs. “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come on out and fight on your own,” was the refrain during a rally last week. The German police at first stood silent during all this, but now appear to be cracking down. One person has been arrested for shouting “Heil Hitler,” and the cops in Berlin ordered rally organizers to announce a new set of rules. No burning the Israeli flag. No shouts of “Death to Israel.” No more anti-Semitic songs.
Some gentile Germans are rallying in support of the country’s Jewish community. But not many. Writing in Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s largest newspaper, Detlef Esslinger lamented that the Munich rally, which was supposed to be a display of solidarity across ethnic and religious lines, turned out to be something different. Far fewer people showed up than organizers expected. Most were Jewish. A Catholic bishop took the podium and announced he was “here on behalf of the Catholics in our country.” The rest of German Catholics apparently deemed it unnecessary to make an appearance. Similarly, Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt said the majority would rise up in support of the Jews ”if it is necessary,” the key word being ”if.”
Esslinger writes that if there is one positive conclusion to take from the disappointing lack of solidarity with German Jews at the Munich rally it is that most of the country considers Jews essential to the national community and and thinks it is unnecessary to overemphasize this point. But as the attack on the synagogue shows, overt displays of anti-Semitism aren’t as rare as they should be.