Questioning your own racism is normal. However, admitting that anti-Semitic stereotypes are carried over is taboo.

Two women wear kippahs that they have to hold on to because a strong wind is blowing

Erfurt, April 25, 2018: Two women wear kippahs at a demonstration against anti-Semitism. Photo: Jens Meyer/ap/Picture Alliance

Although no longer visible on the streets, Black Lives Matter has also had a lasting impact on German society since its peak in 2020. People realized that racism not only begins where Nazis fight, but is deeply rooted. in the actions of each individual in everyday life.

Even people deeply rooted in the far-right camp reject the “racist” label. But since 2020, many have noted that this defense is not productive. In a society that is fundamentally based on the racial inequality of people, all sectors of that society are racist. In large leftist circles it is considered good manners to admit that one unconsciously acts as a racist, and precisely for this reason one must actively work against racism.

There has never been such a turn in anti-Semitism. Why not? Even people who discover and reflect on racist patterns within themselves would never openly say that they also have anti-Semitic impulses. While a folkloric animal mask on a bag of “Africa” chips is clearly recognized and sanctioned as a colonial-racist image, interest in anti-Jewish images only seems to take hold when it comes to the proverbial striker– Hooked noses and scraggly teeth are seen, which means that the Jews are actually being racially attacked.

Deeply rooted in society

Anti-Semitism – in its religious, racist and political variants – is probably even more deeply rooted in society, considering that individual regions of Germany were pogromized “Jew-free” as early as the 12th and 13th centuries, before constructions such as the “race”. “They were even conceivable.

Christianity, which shapes Western societies and, through colonial contexts, other regions, devotes an incredible amount of theological work to devaluing Judaism. With the pioneer Paul, initially Jewish, resentments began; Soon the converted Romans had to write their way to Israel's alliance with God in a complicated way; The best way to do this was, theologically justified, with a key Jewish-born witness. and a witness Messiah of Jewish origin – was considered obsolete. It is obvious that the real Jews were disruptive, as a living and constant reminder.

Hostility against Jews does not begin at Auschwitz, not even with Luther and the infamous “Judensau.” The ox and donkey figures in the traditional Christmas nativity scene represent the Jewish people in Christian imagery, too bored to recognize the Son of God among them. The iconography of anti-Semitism is complicated.

Right-wingers, for whom anti-Semitism is a central part of their ideology, only support Jews when they take a stance against Muslims. But leftist thought is also known to be anti-Semitic. Critics of globalization and capitalism, the elites and the associated media critics find it difficult not to repeat anti-Semitic topoi: thesis about secret powers that control thought and that are themselves above the law or non-productive capital, that opposes honest work. , have justified the social exclusion of Jews for centuries and, despite all the updates, are still today associated with people who read Jewish.

Anti-Semitism is accepted as collateral damage

Capitalism is destructive. But also anti-Semitism, which is often accepted as collateral damage of justified criticism of economic conditions.

Instead of finding new narratives of leftist criticism, energy is spent defending against the admission of how deeply anti-Semitism permeates the thinking of post-monotheistic societies. Instead of doing the obvious task of eradicating a murderous pattern of discrimination through self-reflection and educational work, leftists in Germany have been discussing detailed issues of criticism of the State of Israel for weeks. Because for all the skepticism about the now-cancelled Berlin anti-discrimination clause: it could also have been used, at least as a side effect, as an opportunity to ask why a recognized definition of anti-Semitism classifies one's position as anti-Semitic. instead of scandalizing this classification and also with the narratives of an influential Zionist lobby. There seems to be a greater interest in avoiding being called an anti-Semitic than in working on a critique that does not interpret Israeli politics and history in anti-Semitic terms.

Israel-related anti-Semitism in the left-wing and immigrant bubbles is a very loud problem, but it remains the most manageable, given the normality of the “St. John Passion” on Good Friday or the uproar over the “organic” good against the bad “agricultural company” or the conviction that “those at the top” would be deceiving “us” in the midst of society. A society in which it means working to not be anti-Semitic. Where anti-Semitism is the norm, not the exception.

After the Holocaust, being anti-Semitic is a global taboo. Nobody except right-wing extremists wants to call themselves that. Which seems correct at first glance. But the defense mechanisms against the analysis are obscure: from the extension of the meaning of “Semitic” to Arab communities to an anti-Zionism whose “Zionism” remains suspiciously undefined. As long as this taboo results in not asking unpleasant questions about oneself, the long history of a miserable worldview will continue.

However, ultimately it also shows how different the image of those affected by racism and anti-Semitism is: Admitting that one thinks in a racist way is also easy because one does not believe that one is afraid of those affected by racism; after all, “they” should be We appreciate that “we” take care of them. While Jews are still understood as the invisible other within oneself, something repressed, threatening, with a power that cannot be defended. The bad conscience of the early Christians still has repercussions today.