Sunday, April 14, 2024

“Zionism Über Alles”


Zionism Germany Holocaust political football Israel guilt philosemitism Angela Merkel extremism McCarthyism Nazi

The German political establishment has abandoned the belief that the Holocaust gave it a responsibility to humanity and replaced it with a responsibility to Israel alone.

In the five months since October 7, people around the world have looked on in horror as Germany has wielded the memory of the Holocaust to silence criticism of Israel’s war on Gaza. The German government’s response to the conflict itself has not been all that different from that of the United States: both have increased their supply of weapons to Israel and supported Israel against South Africa in the International Court of Justice. But Germany has gone much further than the United States in persecuting protesters, artists, and intellectuals expressing sympathy for and solidarity with the Palestinian people. It wields its responsibility for a barely distant genocide as a kind of moral authority.

This invocation of the Holocaust to police criticism of Israel is a far cry from the Erinnerungskultur, or memory culture, that many international observers once celebrated as an exemplary form of reckoning with the past. Even philosopher Susan Neiman, who five years ago wrote a book celebrating Germany’s memory culture as a model for the United States, now thinks it has gone “haywire.” Neiman speaks of a particularly German “philosemitic McCarthyism”—though since it has often also been directed against Jews who are critical of Israel, like the New Yorker writer Masha Gessen and the artist Candice Breitz, it may be more accurate to call it “Zionist McCarthyism.”

Although much attention has rightly focused on these individual cases of persecution, the genesis and evolution of Germany’s memory culture is less often discussed. Especially in the United States, many who imagined Germany to be a comparatively progressive country now assume that its Holocaust memory culture has always stipulated unconditional support for Israel. But the reality is more complex—and much stranger. Holocaust memory became entrenched within the Federal Republic’s political establishment only in the 1980s. During the last two decades, this memory culture has regressed, as Germany has abandoned the belief that the Holocaust bestowed on it a responsibility to humanity and replaced it with a responsibility to Israel alone.  (more...)

“Zionism Über Alles”

No comments:

Post a Comment