By Orit Arfa/JNS.org
Andreas Boldt can’t help but effuse praise and love for Israel almost any chance he gets—even with his kids. In some of his Facebook posts, the 37-year-old has his blonde-haired children (ages 5-13) passionately singing “Adon Olam” and “Hatikvah.” Documenting a recent trip to Israel, he took particular pride in his meeting with IDF Maj. Gen. (ret.) Doron Almog, the first commando to land on the Entebbe runway in the famous 1976 hostage-rescue mission. With his bright blue eyes, carefully trimmed beard, and fit build, he sometimes models on Facebook with the Israeli and German flags.
A casual observer might think he has some sort of irrational or religious obsession with Israel, but sitting down with Boldt over coffee at Kaffehaus Einstein in Berlin, ahead of his February trip—his sixth to the Jewish state—Boldt said his support for Israel is dictated entirely by reason and ethics.
“People ask me: Why do I support Israel this way? Why do I put in so much effort, time, and money into Israel? There is no people, no state on the planet that has so many enemies, that’s fighting so much in this life, like the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” he told JNS.org.
For Boldt, supporting Israel is the only rational, humanitarian choice for a thinking, freedom-loving person. Germany’s “historical responsibility” to address its Holocaust past has nothing to do with Boldt’s support, nor should it, he said.
“I refuse to think about historical responsibility as a German,” said Boldt. “I know the history, and I think that every human being is responsible to help their fellow human beings.”
In 2011, he started the Freundschaft Deutschland-Israel (German-Israel Friendship) Facebook page, which today boasts 13,000 members. He has emerged as the go-to man in Germany for unabashedly pro-Israel perspective and commentary, although he holds no organizational affiliation. His day job is working for a company that manufactures industrial tools for the automotive industry. He lives with his family in a village, population 1,000, near Bielefeld, where his children are known for painting Stars of David in school.
Boldt was born in Siberia to a German family that returned to the motherland when he was 10 years old. He grew up as a Christian but no longer identifies as one. He first encountered Israel through biblical stories, yet he is among a few of his (former) co-religionists, aside from his immediately family, who took a keen interest in modern Israel. He has conducted independent research on Zionism when Israel would be portrayed in the media as an aggressor.
“From my personal experience in life I had until then, and the people I met, I felt something was wrong there. Because I know the Muslim-Arab mentality in the Mideast, and I couldn’t imagine that Israel was the big aggressor in the area,” he said.
Boldt befriended Israelis through social media and fell more in love with the country—and its people. He has observed that Germans are largely neutral on the subject of Israel. The German far-right is irrelevant. Most of the hate mail he receives comes from Arab Muslims and the occasional left-wing Israeli. The latter group saddens him because they set back his work by touting their credibility as Israelis. Boldt fears that with Germany’s influx of Muslim migrants born and bred on hatred of Israel, the day will soon come that they will bully Germans into embracing anti-Israel—and hence, anti-Semitic—attitudes.
“I really was sure that in two or three generations to come, Germany would have normal relations with Israel and the Jewish people in general,” he said. “I was very optimistic we would overcome the issue of the Holocaust and German history in the sense of having a normal relationship in the way we have with the British, French, etc.…With the rise of Islamism in Europe and Germany in general, we hear more talk about BDS (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement) and against Israel.”
In fact, he believes that Germans’ concern with overly repenting for the Holocaust sins of their forefathers has led to a misguided open-immigration policy. As far as refugees go, he doesn’t believe that Germany has any more obligation than other countries to help them flee chaos in Muslim countries, such as the ongoing Syrian civil war.
“What is historical responsibility and how far does it go? If you look at daily reality, you won’t find anyone who really feels a historical responsibility. To speak about that in public is nice, but I don’t think it will lead us to somewhere helpful. I think the only responsibility to speak about is a moral responsibility,” he said.
While Germans learn about the horrors of their country’s past in school, Jew-hatred is sometimes still casually thrown around the dinner table by grandparents who grew up as part of the rabidly anti-Semitic generation. It’s this dormant anti-Semitism, Boldt reasons, that Israel-haters prey upon.
“The average Germans just don’t want any conflict,” he said. “We want a peaceful life. We want to save money for our lives. They’re quiet, usually. They don’t demonstrate….The Muslim population is pushing the Germans, saying, ‘Hey, we have to do something.’ Starting with boycott calls in front of shops, so they avoid those shops because they don’t want conflict.”
But Boldt also believes that backlash against the behavior of some Muslim migrants, such as the sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve in Cologne and other cities, may help Germans realize what he already understands: that Israel is the beacon of civilization in a region of barbarism and misogyny.
The Holocaust, Boldt said, should not be used justify Israel’s existence to the average German, let alone in general.
“If you approach a German and speak about the Holocaust, he’ll automatically feel bad, but the German today wasn’t alive 70 years ago.…I try to show people we have common values. You love life. You love human rights. Your children grow up in freedom. You’re creative. You respect animal rights,” he said.
For Israelis, Boldt conveys a much simpler message. “You know, Israelis ask me everyday: ‘Why do you support us so much?’ The general answer for me—and I answer the Jewish way—is, ‘How can I not support beautiful people like you?’”
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