The Israeli ambassador to Germany, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, has reacted with horror to the demonstrations last weekend protesting his country’s actions in the Gaza Strip, saying “Jews are being persecuted on Berlin streets as if we were in the year 1938.”
His words are shocking and especially painful for us Germans. Are they justified?
There is no sense of a rising spirit of pogrom in Germany against our Jewish fellow citizens. Yet almost 75 years after the outbreak of the Second World War, there are examples of anti-Semitism under the guise of political protest that should not be tolerated by either the state or its citizens. This calls as much for the civil courage of each individual as it does for any police action.
Those who vent their anger over the harsh action of the Israeli army in Gaza with anti-Semitic slogans cannot invoke the legitimate freedom of opinion or dissent. This freedom can only exist when it is not misused to incite the masses or to call for violence. Even freedom has its limits, without which it dies.