The Synagogues Are Burning Again in Germany
There is shocking news this week from Germany. Three Palestinian Muslims who torched a synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany have been given suspended sentences because their actions allegedly represented a justified criticism of Israel. A regional court has upheld the decision of a lower court, also agreeing that the actions of these Muslim men were not antisemitic. And to think that this happened in Germany, a nation that still bears the shame of the Holocaust.
According to many historians, the Holocaust began on the evening of Nov. 9, 1938, known today as Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. On that fateful night, the Nazis set Jewish synagogues on fire and vandalized Jewish businesses, all while the public stood by and did nothing. This sent a message to the Nazi leaders: We will not stop your attacks on our Jewish neighbors and friends. You have a free hand.
A synagogue that was originally burned by the Nazis in 1938 is torched by Muslims in 2014, and two courts say, “Not a big deal. We understand your frustration.”
Now, Muslims torch a synagogue and the courts look on and yawn. What message does this send to the Muslim world, especially to Muslims living in Germany? And what message does this send to German Jews, especially considering that, “The original synagogue in Wuppertal was burned by Germans during the Kristallnacht pogroms in 1938.” This is absolutely chilling.
The Growing Antisemitism
A 2013 survey revealed that 1 in 4 European Jews was afraid to wear a yarmulke (or kippah), the head-covering worn by religious Jews. In 2015, it was reported that the Central Council of Jews in Germany warned religious Jews not to wear a kippah for fear of their safety. And in 2016, in Berlin, “Unknown perpetrators kicked and beat a 21-year-old Jewish man wearing a kippah after slurring him with anti-Semitic insults.”
This represents a dangerous, unnerving trend, and the regional court’s decision to uphold the preposterous ruling of the lower court certainly sends a dangerous signal.
Given the efforts that Germany makes to distance itself from the Holocaust — including making it a crime to deny the Holocaust — one would think that if there was any act that would be promptly condemned by the German courts, it would be setting a synagogue on fire. Yet a synagogue that was originally burned by the Nazis in 1938 is torched by Muslims in 2014, and two courts say, “Not a big deal. We understand your frustration.”
With good reason Robert Spencer exclaimed, “Meet the new Germany, same as the old Germany. This ruling is the apotheosis of Islamopandering. Would a German court say that the attempted torching of a mosque was a justified criticism of jihad terror attacks? Of course not. Nor should it. But this ruling shows how desperate German authorities are to appease their rapidly growing and increasingly aggressive Muslim population.”
According to the first court’s ruling in 2015, the Palestinian attackers “wanted to draw ‘attention to the Gaza conflict’ with Israel. Moreover, “The court deemed the attack not to be motivated by antisemitism.” What kind of drivel is this?
These Muslims did not attack the Israeli embassy in Germany, which, in theory, could have served as an illegal protest of Israeli policies — in this case, Israel’s war on Hamas terrorists — without raising the charge of antisemitism. But they didn’t torch the embassy, nor did they specifically target Israelis, which, again, while being ugly and illegal, could have theoretically been directed as Israel in particular rather than at Jews in general.
But these Palestinian men attacked a Jewish synagogue in Wuppertal, thereby holding all Jews responsible for Israel’s actions, and thereby engaging in a blatant, antisemitic act. In that same spirit, when Israel previously waged war on Hamas in 2009, a female Muslim protester at a demonstration in Fort Lauderdale, FL, cried out, “Go back to the oven. You need a big oven, that’s what you need.”
Yes, those evil Jews deserve to be exterminated, and what Israel does, all Jews do. As Martin Luther King, Jr., reportedly said in 1968, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”
While this dictum is not always true, it is quite often true, and in the case of Palestinian Muslims expressing their frustration with Israel by throwing Molotov cocktails at a synagogue, it is definitely true.
History Can Repeat Itself
The lesson of all this is clear: German Jews, along with European Jews in general, have no business thinking that history cannot repeat itself. Numerous articles document the steadily rising tide of antisemitism in Europe, and just as the handwriting was on the wall in Germany long before 1938, the handwriting is forming on the wall again. (Consider that the blatantly antisemitic Nuremburg laws, which “excluded German Jews from Reich citizenship and prohibited them from marrying or having sexual relations with persons of ‘German or related blood’,” among other restrictions, were instituted in 1935.)
This recent court ruling, upholding the earlier court’s decision, should serve as a wake-up call to all Jews in Germany. It also should serve as a wake-up call to all people of conscience in Germany, especially professing Christians. Will you stand idly by, or will you take a stand with the Jewish people of your nation?
History is watching once again.