A recent survey of Germans and Muslims who live in Germany conducted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) found that 60% of both populations consider antisemitism to be a widespread phenomenon in Germany that has increased over the past 10 years. But the study also brought to light the wide gap between the two populations in terms of the reasons for this hatred and how deeply rooted antisemitism is in all sectors of society.
The survey states that 34% of the general German population and 54% of Muslims who live in Germany agree with the statement, “Jews today use their status as victims of genocide during the Second World War in their favor.” The survey also revealed that 18% of Germans and 46% of Muslims agree with the statement “Jews have too much power in the media,” and similar percentages think “Jews have too much power in politics.”
This AJC poll was released at a time when German authorities report record-high levels of antisemitism. In 2021, 3,028 hate crimes targeted Jews. That is the highest number registered since police began to track reported antisemitic incidents in 2001.
I am not surprised by these statistics. I evaluate them as a factual reality that does not seem to improve over time. I have not seen any decisive action by Jewish organizations to eliminate this phenomenon. There have only been formal measures: antisemitic incidents are widely reported, funds are allocated to address the problem, an ineffective campaign is carried out and then the cycle begins again. Endless talk about the constant threat to Jews without solving the problem is an empty effort. It prevents nothing now, just as it never prevented anything in the past.
German Jews should also take into account the fact that German demographics and mentality have changed. The current population is no longer a generation highly conscious of the Holocaust and the Third Reich, so what do they care? While Germans may still express support for the Jews and Israel because it remains a national obligation for them to do so, deep down the sorrow and sense of guilt has disappeared. They are already fed up with the issue and do not understand what we want from them. Such attitudes eat away at the status of Jews in Germany who stay there because they feel they are doing well—but one might ask, for how much longer?
The same goes for the status of bilateral relations between Germany and Israel. Israel has considered Germany a strong ally in Europe. Former Chancellor Angela Merkel, for example, said in 2008 that Israel’s security was part of Germany’s national interest. She felt obliged to speak about it and expressed her sympathy for the Jewish people because of Germany’s past. She belonged to the generation for which that was common, a kind of polite commitment that is quickly becoming irrelevant. A new government is in power, and the mentality of the people has changed in regard to Israel.
In the volatile world we live in today, there are no guarantees of unbreakable partnerships. We Jews need to reach a point where we become partners to one another, among ourselves, so that our future does not depend on external support. We can trust no one but ourselves. Our nation was founded in order to realize the principle “love your friend as yourself” and to become a conduit for this principle to all humanity—“a light unto the nations.” In the final analysis, the more divided we are, the more antisemitism rises; and the closer we are to each other, the more the world will have a positive view of us.
Michael Laitman is the founder and president of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.