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Is Germany capable of protecting Its Jews?

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 05:26 AM PDT


Via The Atlantic (James Kirchick):
For understandable reasons, Europeans are much more comfortable condemning the familiar anti-Semitism of the far right than the sort expressed by migrants entering Europe as the victims of war and economic deprivation. Nowhere is this issue more fraught than in Germany.

To a degree unmatched by any other nation, Germany has confronted its horrific past with commendable honesty. After World War II, Germany assumed responsibility for its crimes and obliged itself both to protect Jewish life and to offer sanctuary to those escaping violent conflict and political persecution. But the recent intake of so many migrants from places where anti-Semitism is rife has produced an uncomfortable tension between these two commitments.

That tension was laid bare recently when a video shot on a Berlin street went viral. It depicted a young man wearing a kippa, or Jewish skullcap, being assaulted by a Syrian asylum-seeker. German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the incident as a "disgrace." This week, thousands of Germans of different faith groups donned kippa in several cities and marched in solidarity with the Jewish community. Some Muslim women wore kippot over their hijabs. It was an admirable display. But if Germany—the country leading the rest of Europe—is serious about addressing anti-Semitism, it will need to make the safety of its Jewish communities a higher priority when considering future migrant inflows.

For the plain fact is that most of the migrants who have come (and continue to come) to Europe hail from Muslim-majority countries that long ago expelled their once-vibrant Jewish populations, where anti-Semitism figures prominently in state propaganda, and where belief in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories is widespread. To take just one obvious incongruity between Germany and the migrants it is accepting: Holocaust denial, a crime punishable by prison in Germany, is pervasive across the Muslim and Arab Middle East. Of course, it would be wrong to presume that every Syrian refugee holds the anti-Semitic attitudes of the country's former defense minister, who published a book repeating the ancient blood libel about Jews killing gentile children to bake matzos for Passover. But it is equally misguided to deny that many have been profoundly influenced by the anti-Semitic environments in which they were raised.
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France: The grand theorist of Holocaust denial, Robert Faurisson

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 01:25 AM PDT


Via Tablet (Paul Berman):
On April 12, just now, Robert Faurisson suffered one more minor legal defeat in a French court, which is good news, in a small way, for the world, and, in a bigger way, for the newspaper Le Monde. The court ruling means that, in France, you can denounce Faurisson as a "professional liar" and a "falsifier of history." And you do not have to worry about a defamation suit—which is good news for Le Monde because, back in 1978, the editors made the insane error of judging Faurisson to be a man-with-an-idea-worth-debating, and they welcomed him into their pages. Faurisson is of course the theoretician of Holocaust denial. He contributed to Le Monde an "ideas" piece titled "The Debate Over the 'Gas Chambers,' " with the extra quotation marks signifying his belief that Nazi gas chambers are a Zionist lie. And Le Monde has needed, ever since, to make the point over and again that publishing his article was a big mistake, and Faurisson is, in fact, a professional liar and a falsifier of history. The judicial ruling reinforces the point yet again. It is good. We should applaud. But it is sobering to reflect that, 40 years later, the point does need reinforcement, and Faurisson, who is a minor screwball, has had major successes in different corners of the world. And falsification of history turns out to be a factor in history.

The provenance of Faurisson's ideas is altogether curious. He derived them principally from a sad-sack leftwing pacifist in France named Paul Rassinier, whose misfortune during World War II was to be arrested and tortured by the Germans, which permanently ruined his health. He was jailed in two camps, Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora, where conditions were bad. He was beaten by the SS. When he emerged, though, he explained and re-explained at book length that, even if conditions in the camps were less than good, neither were they especially terrible, and Germany's conduct during the war was no worse than any other country's. Germany ought not to be demonized. And the truly evil people in the camps were the Communist prisoners. And the Jews were responsible for the war.

I have sometimes wondered if Rassinier's impulse to deny or downplay his own experience wasn't, in some respect, normal—a pitiable but human impulse to cope with an experience of extreme suffering by denying that anything extreme has happened. But then, if Rassinier's impulse was normal, wouldn't there be other examples of people responding to catastrophic suffering in the same way? It is hard to find other examples, though. The literature of the German camps, the literature of the Soviet gulag, and the 19th century American literature of "slave narratives" (by slaves who escaped to the free states and recounted their experiences)—the several literatures of horrendous suffering under extreme social conditions—do not seem to contain a place for fantasists like Rassinier.
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