Dhe anti-Semitic violence at Berlin universities is increasing at an alarming rate. After a lecture hall was occupied by pro-Palestinian students last week, a Jewish student at the FU was beaten to the point of hospitalization by a pro-Palestinian student in Berlin-Mitte.

When students from the University of the Arts (UdK) chanted pro-Palestinian propaganda shouts in Berlin in November with black corona masks and red-colored, blood-smeared hands, they gave their so-called “performance” the telling headline “It's not complicated”. They could hardly have expressed their own rejection of complexity more clearly. They may have never developed the desire to work through complexity; it was sacrificed for the quick effect of a “promotion” that had an impact on the public. The president of the UdK, who declared solidarity with Israel, was shouted down.

Not everyone is protected from exclusion

It is a minority of identitarian, anti-Israel radical leftists who only ever know the suffering of individuals and singular group interests, but do not even consider the idea of ​​protecting everyone equally from exclusion. This minority meets a majority of completely apolitical students at the university who want to complete their studies as efficiently as possible, but who rarely experience the university as a living space or laboratory for common thinking and the struggle for knowledge. Being present as little as possible has become an unpleasant habit for many students since the Corona pandemic. Many Jewish students, on the other hand, no longer dare to go to universities for fear of attacks.

The identitarian left claims to be particularly inclusive, but is the opposite of that: it excludes mercilessly and violently and does not shy away from anti-Semitism. She evades any discourse because she has neither arguments nor the slightest willingness to even hear them, let alone deal with them. It's about being right and imagining moral superiority, not about arguing about the better argument. In social networks there is only black or white – like or dislike, friend or enemy. There is no need for nuances.

Conflict-averse universities

Even if it seems so in Berlin at the moment: German universities are not (yet) hotbeds of anti-Semitism. But they have become conflict-averse in recent years. The academic dispute has given way to a strange addiction to harmony, which fearfully looks at possible disadvantages in the struggle for excellence, research funding or projects. The censorship scissors in the minds of many of the freest people in the Republic, it seems, are getting bigger and bigger.

Even university management does not stand out for its particular courage. So the executive board of the Free University, already well known for its wavering in the Franziska Giffey plagiarism case, needed a second explanation in order to describe the brutal attack for what it is: an anti-Semitic act of violence.

And Berlin's higher education law ensures that the attacks can hardly be punished. The FU cannot comply with the Central Council of Jews' demand to deregister the violent perpetrator. While the university laws of all other countries provide for regulatory measures against students with the strictest means of exmatriculation, this does not apply to Berlin. “The regulatory law over students is abolished,” it expressly states in the currently valid higher education law. It was the left in the Berlin Senate that ensured in 2021 that the supposedly “repressive” systems in the form of university management cannot exercise their power. At that time it was about restricting university autonomy and giving postdocs permanent contracts.

Not a safe place

The only reasons for exmatriculation in Berlin are currently not fulfilled study formalities such as not re-registering on time, missing payment of fees and other banalities. The seemingly student-friendly regulation has the opposite effect. Because it protects racist or anti-Semitic perpetrators of violence, sexual harassers and everyone else who turns the supposedly safe place on campus into a real place of fear for their fellow students.

However, this was not considered at the time. Now all Berlin university management realizes that the temporary stay-at-home ban they can impose is a toothless tiger. Even the president of the FU is now publicly stating that he would like to have the sharper sword of exmatriculation with its preventive effect in order to better protect Jewish students. It would now be the task of the government coalition in the House of Representatives to enshrine regulatory law in law again – also and especially because of the Jewish students.