Praise for Merkel's 'moral voice' on hate


German Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal, powerful broadside against antisemitism at a rally in Berlin on Sunday garnered praise from all corners of the Jewish world.

Ms Merkel, who rarely attends rallies, told a crowd of 8,000 assembled at the Brandenberg Gate: "Anyone who uses completely legitimate criticism of political actions - either those of our own country or of the state of Israel - at demonstrations merely as a pretext to give expression to their hate of other people, their hate of Jews, is misusing our precious fundamental rights."

Along with most other European countries, Germany saw hate attacks on Jews rocket during Israel's war with Hamas. Local Jews and an Israeli tourist were assaulted on the street; a shul in Wuppertal was firebombed; and in several cities, neo-Nazis chanted antisemitic slogans at Palestinian solidarity demonstrations together with Muslim protesters and other demonstrators.

In another passage, Ms Merkel said: "That people in Germany are threatened and abused because of their Jewish appearance or their support for Israel is an outrageous scandal."

Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, said: "Chancellor Merkel's moral voice is extremely important, especially in a Europe where equivocation on hatred against Jews and Israel, the Jewish state, is often heard with ever-increasing volume. She laid down a very strong stance against hate, which I hope will be equalled with action across Europe."

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, said: "If Europe had another three Chancellor Merkels, the world would be a much better place. Ms Merkel has embraced the special responsibility that Germany has to root out and openly challenge antisemitism. The spike in antisemitism this summer has highlighted the need for political leaders to take the strongest possible stance on antisemitism. I hope that she has set an example that other leaders will follow.”

Josh Spinner, CEO of the Ronald S Lauder Foundation, said: "Merkel's record on Jewish issues is outstanding… I found her speech clear and unequivocal."

Amid the praise for Ms Merkel's tough stance, doubts were raised over whether the German government was doing enough to counteract hate and make life safe for Jews.

Mr Spinner said: "I would be happy to hear from politicians… what they are actually going to do legally and politically to stop the virulent and violent antisemitism of many young Muslims."

A day before the rally, former chair of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Charlotte Knobloch said she believed "decent people" were "dozing off" when it came to their responsibilities in safeguarding society. "What I regret most is that the Central Council had to make the call for such a rally… The call should have come from within our society instead," she said.

Sacha Stawski, one of Germany's most prominent pro-Israel lobbyists, was also critical: "Despite this huge campaign, we were barely able to get more than 8,000 to attend." He noted that over 200,000 had come to a rally following a firebombing of a synagogue 14 years ago.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive