In the cultural institutions and feuilletons, a special species is becoming more and more widespread: the critics of anti-Semitism. These are those extremely sensitive contemporaries who find anti-Semitism so terrible that they cannot and do not want to imagine that it also exists outside of right-wing extremist circles, even in their own ranks.
And who therefore find the statement (which they prefer to call an "accusation" in order to be able to reject it more easily) that unfortunately things are different and that anti-Semitic resentment – especially in its Israel-related form – also has a firm home in milieus other than the ultra-right, even more outrageous than anti-Semitism itself.
At least they devote much more time, energy and passion to criticizing anti-Semitism than to criticizing anti-Semitism. One assertion is rarely missing: namely, that the alleged inflationary use of the "accusation of anti-Semitism" is detrimental to the fight against "real" anti-Semitism because it focuses attention on the wrong people and thus trivializes, if not promotes, "real" anti-Semitism.
It is quite as Tucholsky wrote more than a hundred years ago: "Incidentally, here the one who points out the dirt is considered much more dangerous than the one who does the dirt."
Performance by Charlotte Wiedemann
Charlotte Wiedemann, columnist of the taz, also belongs to this species. She begins her latest lyric right away with a powerful twist that sets the tone:
"For the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Goethe-Institut is among the most dangerous anti-Semitic forces in the world because it participates with other cultural institutions in an initiative against the misuse of the anti-Semitism accusation."
This is doubly wrong. On the one hand, because the supposed "initiative against the abuse of the accusation of anti-Semitism" is in reality an alliance of the cultural elite that would gladly cooperate at state expense with supporters of the BDS movement, although BDS by no means "only" attacks Israel and its policy towards the Palestinians, but very much also attacks Judaism.
On the other hand, the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) counts the Goethe Institute and other institutions involved in the "Initiative GG 5.3 cosmopolitanism" are involved, by no means "among the most dangerous anti-Semitic forces worldwide". Rather, it ranked the trivialization of the BDS movement by this initiative among the "top ten worst global anti-Semitic incidents" of 2020, i.e., the worst anti-Semitic Incidents.
This "top ten" is a subjective list by the Center, intended to make clear how widespread anti-Semitism is and what different forms it can take. So the point is not to rank the most dangerous anti-Semites in the world.
Wiedemann like Walser
The purpose of downplaying BDS while dramatizing an activity of the SWC becomes immediately clear. Wiedemann simply wants to turn the tables: For her, the Wiesenthal Center is "a right-wing lobbying institution" that defames honorable fighters against anti-Semitism like the initiative in question. As it should be, she doesn’t say this without staged bellyaching:
"To call an accusation that comes under the name of the famous survivor and Nazi hunter a slander, that requires an inner jolt that is not easy for me either."
But of course it has given itself this "inner jolt," presumably trembling with boldness like Martin Walser in Frankfurt’s Paulskirche when he castigated the "permanent presentation of our shame," referring to Auschwitz, which had degenerated into a "moral club".
For Charlotte Wiedemann, this redemption of Germany’s past consists of reprimanding a Jewish organization in the tradition of a Holocaust survivor who set an unwilling judiciary on the trail of Nazi perpetrators. To write that the SWC spreads justiciable lies as well as "erroneous judgments that arrogate to themselves an authority derived from the Shoah" shows a conscience that is so clear because it has never been used.
Sentiment kitsch with simple subtext
What authority is to be derived from the Shoah instead, i.e., what lessons are to be learned from the extermination of the Jews, Charlotte Wiedemann knows better than the Simon Wiesenthal Center, of course. The author claims to have noticed an increasing "blunting," an "accusation of anti-Semitism" often only causes a shrug of the shoulders, and that is "bad.
"Sensitivity" must "become a virtue again," she thinks, and there, insensitive virtueless people like the Wiesenthal Center, which, unlike Wiedemann, meets Israel-related anti-Semitism neither with bluntness nor with a shrug of the shoulders, naturally disturb the German sensitivities quite considerably.
What Charlotte Wiedemann has written there in the taz is ghastly attitude kitsch that combines with wet-behind-the-ears brashness and lecturing overtones to create a difficult-to-tolerate verbiage in which Israel-related anti-Semitism appears as an expression of nonconformity and diversity.
"Acknowledging that there is the possibility of anti-Semitic impulses within oneself should be a prerequisite for participating in the public conversation."
This is what the author writes, for example, and in doing so she involuntarily blurts out what has always characterized anti-Semites of every stripe: Those who hate Jews do not keep their mouths shut, but are urgently looking for an audience. Wiedemann would like to see a "moral and historical political disarmament of the debate," and she makes clear what she means by disarmament when she writes:
"If the AfD were to win a government majority in Germany, foreign policy would remain pro-Israeli, according to all that is foreseeable in this regard. At the same time, memorials would have their budgets cut, not to speak of worse things."
The subtext of this statement is not difficult to decipher: Anyone who supports Israel is a right-winger and helps those who want to forget the Holocaust. The fact that solidarity with the living Jews and their state is not only not a contradiction to the commemoration of the dead Jews, but on the contrary the logical consequence, is apparently unthinkable for Wiedemann – as, by the way, also for the AfD.
Disinterest and bigotry
Wiedemann cannot imagine any left-wing solidarity with Israel, but only "young non-Jewish Germans" who embraced "Zionism" "the way their parents used to embrace klezmer music". Those who have not followed the debates of the past 25 years must make do with cliches and stereotypes and thus reveal not only a lack of interest, but also a disconcerting narrow-mindedness.
In order to conceal this, the author talks a lot about "Jewish diversity", which for her manifests itself above all in "young Israelis" who "do not want to live in Israel – and who believe they can breathe more freely in Berlin, the city of the Wannsee Conference".
Charlotte Wiedemann likes the fact that many of these Israelis view the Jewish state critically – but she does not write that they are a minority. It is well worth mentioning that four-fifths of all Jews in America and Europe feel close or very close ties to Israel and consider it an attack on Judaism when the Israel boycotters of the BDS movement constantly drag the only Jewish state in the world through the mud in their propaganda.
Thus, when the BDS movement claims that it is not directed against Jews, it is ignoring the vast majority of Jews, in whose self-image Israel is of great importance. But Wiedemann ignores this, just as she believes there is "no longer the one, unchallengeable moral authority in German anti-Semitism discourse". The Central Council of Jews in Germany is no longer that either, since it has been
"denies Jewishness to Jewish voices that are, in its view, disliked and hostile to Israel.".
Wiedemann does not provide any proof of this, which is why Sigmount Konigsberg, the anti-Semitism officer of the Jewish Community Berlin, followed up on Twitter. Wiedemann responded by saying that Central Council President Josef Schuster had been the Gottingen Peace Prize to the (anti-Israeli) Jewish voice for just peace in the Middle East called in February 2019 "a slap in the face of the entire Jewish community in Germany and Israel".
Judge over the Jewish community
Thus the laureates "no longer belonged" – which, however, is only Wiedemann’s extremely idiosyncratic interpretation. At this point, too, it is telling how a non-Jewish journalist sets herself up as a judge of "dos" and "don’ts" in the Jewish community and puts down its representation – not without claiming with feigned humility that it is
"to feel as a great undeserved gift" "when we are allowed to listen to or occasionally participate in a public intra-Jewish conversation".
Wiedemann makes it sufficiently clear that such sentences are not meant seriously – not least when she immediately denies those voices in the "inner-Jewish" conversation that do not tell what she would like them to tell, to be moral authority, because they would only represent her disdainful self-interests in the political battle of opinion.
In general, her alleged horror at anti-Semitism is merely staged for expediency, as is also clear when she writes:
"Few things have shocked me in the past year as much as images and symbols from the movement of Corona deniers. So then, in an unexpected place, volkisch anti-Semitism can rip open, at once ancient and brand-new, and by alloying it with feigned philo-Semitism so terribly contemporary German."
Unsuspected? Philosemitic? Anyone who makes that claim must be disinterested and ignorant. Little was as expected as the Shoah relativization and self-victimization of those who believe Corona to be an invention of the powerful under the thumb of the Jews.
"The devastating thing about an inflationary use of the accusation of anti-Semitism is that the fright fades away."
This is what Charlotte Wiedemann writes at the end. It is a typical sentence for those who only care about hatred against Jews when it comes from the far right, and who otherwise rationalize it, downplay it, and don’t want to admit it. Israel-related anti-Semitism does not exist for them, especially not in their own milieu – no wonder, after all, "criticism of Israel" is part of good manners there. If one can then still hide behind key witnesses, whom one appropriates in the name of "multiplicity" and "polyphony", the left camouflage is perfect.