Former German Intelligence head blames far-left and Muslim migrants for growing antisemitism

August Hanning argues that rising anti-Jewish activity in Germany is not simply the province of the far-right


Warning: Germany's former Intelligence chief August Hanning (Photo: Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

Muslim migrants and left-wing activists are the primary source of Jew hatred in Germany, claims the country’s former head of Intelligence.

Writing for the online magazine Tablet, August Hanning, former director of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), says that the “prospective growth of a large population of young Muslims who may be religiously or politically inclined towards hatred of Jews and Israel poses a particular problem for Germany in light of the Holocaust”.

A Germany in which “antisemitism is culturally and politically acceptable should be entirely unthinkable. Sadly, it is not.”

Germany, he says, now finds itself in a situation which is “beginning to recall some of the darker moments of the country’s past,” while suffering internally “from an unrestrained and uncontrolled influx of migrants”.

He claims that since the October 7 terrorist attacks in Israel, many young Muslims in Germany, under the guise of activism, have been “at the forefront of mobbing attacks on Jewish students, displaying antisemitic symbols on university campuses, and even physical assaults on Jewish students in grade schools”.

Often raised in “separatist religious and political cultures”, these activists pose a challenge to Germany’s “robust programme of Holocaust education, on which the nation’s liberal political culture is founded.

“The growth of a culturally unassimilated minority within the larger post-war German majority culture may also eventually pose a challenge to the Israel-Germany relationship, as well as to the role that relationship plays in Germany’s historical understanding of itself.”

Hanning, 78, headed the BND from 1998 to 2005, and then became State Secretary in the Federal Interior Ministry for four years. 

He also asserts that as well as antisemitism among Muslim populations, Israel-related antisemitism within the left-wing political spectrum poses “significant cultural and political challenges”.

He argues that “harsh criticism of Israeli policy, sometimes shading into overt antisemitism, has become a fixture of leftist movements in Germany”.

He goes on: “While some of the leftist antisemitism now resurfacing in Germany has its roots in the leftist radicalism of 50 years ago, some of it has a more recent origin in the mainstream left’s electoral courtship of political Islamists and Muslim immigrants — leading to an acceptance of movements and discourse that would have formerly been unacceptable in both the cultural and the political spheres.”

Hanning writes that following the October 7 attack, much of Germany’s “art scene and left-wing organisations and parties, which usually comment loudly and immediately on political events, remained silent for days and even weeks — as if the 1,200 murdered and over 200 abducted people were not worth of comment.”

He charges Germany’s political left with issuing an increasing number of “secondary, so-called guilt-deflecting” antisemitic statements. The recurrent slogan “Free Palestine from German guilt” suggests that German guilt for the Holocaust “blinds the German public and government to Palestinian suffering”, Hanning says.

He writes: “In the perspective of left-wing antisemitism, Israel is not seen as a refuge for Jews who survived the Holocaust. Rather, it is a criminal enterprise inspired by the demons of nationalism and ethnocentrism, which allegedly led German Nazis to perpetuate the Holocaust. The descendants of victims of Nazi persecution are therefore reinterpreted as perpetrators,”

Hanning concludes: “It is crucial to address these issues openly and honestly in German society, to educate about the history of antisemitism, and to promote intercultural dialogue and understanding – and not to lazily and inaccurately identify the problem of antisemitism as a historical phenomenon solely of the radical right.”

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