Bavaria antisemitism commissioner demands changes to constitution

The protection of Jewish life should be enshrined


"Sea of lights for democracy" demo against antisemitism and hate speech at Theresienwiese near the Bavaria Statue and the Hall of Fame building (Ruhmeshalle) on 11 February 2024 (Photo by LUKAS BARTH/AFP via Getty Images)

The protection of Jewish life should be enshrined in the constitutions of all of Germany’s federal states and nationally, Bavaria’s antisemitism commissioner has said.

Germany's “Grundgesetz” (Basic Law) was originally a provisional constitution for West Germany in 1949, but became permanent after reunification in 1990. Designed as temporary under Allied oversight, it now functions as Germany's de facto constitution.

But Bavaria's anti-semitism commissioner Ludwig Spaenle says the fight against antisemitism and the protection of Jewish life must now be officially added as a national objective.

In an official letter to the main political parties, Spaenle writes: "The catastrophe of National Socialism and its fanatical, murderous hatred of everything Jewish in the millions are once again terrifyingly present for us in 2024."

Although the Basic Law already includes fundamental rights to protect human dignity and prohibit discrimination on religious and other grounds, Spaenle argues this is insufficient. “Antisemitism is not discrimination but an attack on the right to exist. In terms of a holistic policy, a political framework is therefore needed to protect Jews and combat antisemitism."

Spaenle praised the federal states of Brandenburg, Hamburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Bremen for already incorporating antisemitism clauses into their constitutions in recent years. "The experiences are positive. Other states are also considering amending their constitutions accordingly. This is the right path for the federal government and all its states to follow" he said.

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