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TOPIC: antisemitism

FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Nazi History, Muslim Immigrants, Social Media: Talking Gaza In Germany Is A Hot Mess

The debate over the war in Israel is raging on social media. In this divisive atmosphere, it is impossible to call out anti-Semitism in Muslim communities or on the right wing without being applauded by all the wrong people. What Germans are failing to acknowledge is how much the country’s own history has to do with this.


BERLIN — These are dark times. The brutal Hamas attacks on Israel have crushed all hope of recovery, peace, freedom – of a victory for light over darkness. The global focus has shifted to the threat of political Islam rather than the horrors of the war in Ukraine, although this and other crises remain very much alive. Whichever way you turn, there is another threat looming: the economic crisis, the migrant crisis, climate change, the possible return of Donald Trump. There is no end in sight.

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However, since October 7, which is euphemistically being referred to in media reports as the day of "escalation" in the Middle East, there has been another form of escalation, this time around the tone of public debate in Germany. As the political boundaries are shifting, so are the limits of what is unsayable.

Admittedly, social media only represents a part of the public sphere, but nonetheless it has a profound influence on the debate. We can see this shift in all forms of online communication, which shape how we speak, what we share and what we see. The current discourse on social media reflects a wider breakdown of inhibitions and taboos, which makes it all the harder to find the one thing we need in order to have a reasoned discussion: objectivity.

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Why Hamas Aren't Nazis — Yet Israel's War On Gaza May Be Genocide

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials have referred to Hamas militants as "the new Nazis." But as horrific as the Oct. 7 massacre was, what does it really mean to make such a comparison 80 years after the Holocaust? And how can we rightly describe what's happening in Gaza?

Updated Nov. 8, 2023 at 5:35 p.m.


TURIN — In these days of horror, we've seen dangerous equivalences, half-truths and syllogisms continue to emerge: between Israelis and Jews, between Palestinians and Hamas, between entities at "war."

The conversation makes it seem that there are two states with symmetrical power. Instead, on one side, there is a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization with both a political and a military wing; on the other, a democratic state — although it has elements in the majority that advocate for a mono-ethnic and supremacist society — equipped with a nuclear arsenal and one of the most powerful armies in the world.

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And in the middle? Civilians violated, massacred, and taken hostage in the horrific massacre of Oct. 7. Civilians trapped and torn apart in Gaza under a month-long siege and bombardment.

And then we also have Israeli civilians led into war and ideological radicalization by a government that recklessly exploits that most unhealable wound of the Holocaust.

On Oct. 17, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to Hamas militants as "the new Nazis." On Oct. 24, he drew a comparison between Jewish children hiding in attics to escape terrorists and Anne Frank. On the same day, he likened the massacre on Oct. 7 to the Babij Yar massacre carried out in 1941 by the Einsatzgruppen, the SS operational units responsible for extermination. In the systematic elimination of Jews in Kyiv, they deceitfully gathered 33,771 men and women, forced them to descend into a ravine, lie down on top of the bodies of those who were already dead or dying, and then shot them.

The "Nazification" of opponents, or the "reductio ad Hitlerum," to use the expression coined in the 1950s by the German-Jewish political philosopher Leo Strauss, who fled Nazi Germany in 1938, is a symbolic strategy that has been abused for decades to discredit one's adversary.

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The Left's Apology For Hamas Reveals The Depth Of Its Anti-Semitism

Sectors of the political Left around the world have practically lauded the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel — finally barely bothering to hide their good ol' fashioned hatred of the Jews, rather than hiding behind anti-Zionist rhetoric. Something evil has been re-released.


BOGOTÁ — Marx and Lenin would be turning over in their graves. If only they could see how sectors of the political Left, which is supposed to despise religion ("opiate of the masses"), are now in bed with radical Islam. Those laudable traits the Left proudly claims as its own — humanism, inclusivity and diversity — have been summarily ditched to make way for what is an apparently more fervent passion: hatred of the Jews.

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A Deeper Look At The Anti-Semitic Mob At The Dagestan Airport

Was it a pogrom? Could it happen again? Vazhnyye Istorii looks at the recent history, ethnic makeup and politics of the Russian Republic.


The scenes were captured on video last Sunday: hundreds of rioters storming Dagestan’s main airport to protest against the arrival of a flight from Israel amid its war in Gaza.

This tumultuous event unfolded in the capital of Makhachkala, a city characterized by a volatile blend of factors: poverty combined with a high proportion of young people, a culture predisposed to aggressive conflict resolution and a willingness to engage in rallies, a diverse and multinational population that includes a large Islamic presence, and a public perception of law enforcement as weak and indecisive.

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This potent combination culminated in a situation where anti-Israeli propaganda served as the catalyst for an explosive outburst.

Dagestan is situated in the volatile Caucasus region, known for its multi-ethnic makeup, diverse faiths and languages, as well as a complex web of customary and Islamic laws. Poverty and a youthful demographic exacerbate these challenges, with crumbling infrastructure, high unemployment, and lower incomes compared to the national average. This combination creates a precarious environment, ripe for radical ideologies to find footholds.

What sets Dagestan apart from other regions in Russia is its enduring culture of grassroots political activism, a rarity in the modern Russian landscape. This was evident when the region witnessed substantial protests against mobilization since the start of the war in Ukraine. The inclination to resort to force when dealing with disputes is deeply ingrained in the local culture, albeit with mixed success.

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Dominique Moïsi

Should We Read The Middle East And Ukraine As A Single Narrative?

For the future of our world, neither the stakes in Ukraine nor Gaza should be underestimated. But understanding the limits of the comparison is important to trying to find a way out of each, says veteran French political scientist Dominique Moïsi.

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Cameron Manley

Why They're Calling The Mob Attack Of An Israeli Airplane In Dagestan A "Pogrom"

Evoking the anti-Semitic mobs of the 19th century around Russia and Eastern Europe, several hundred young men descended on an airplane on the tarmac of an airport in the Russian republic of Dagestan. It is part of a series of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli attacks in the Muslim-majority region since the war in Gaza began.

What happened at an airport in the Russian republic of Dagestan is being described by some in the Russian press as a modern-day "pogrom," after an anti-Israeli mob stormed an airport in Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Dagestan on Sunday night.

A crowd broke into the airport in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, eventually getting past security and onto the airfield to prevent the arrival of what had been described as “refugees from Israel.” Information that they were supposedly going to be settled in Dagestan had been disseminated via local Telegram channels. Russian officials reported Monday that at least 60 people have been arrested.

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The attacks have been described by several Russian news outlets as a "pogrom" (‘погром’), a Russian word to describe violent, organized attacks against a particular ethnic group. The term first gained international recognition in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — eventually adopted into other languages — when pogroms were used to describe a series of violent anti-Jewish riots and attacks that occurred across the Russian Empire and later in other parts of Eastern Europe.

Thus the brazen mob attack Sunday night in Dagestan, in the Caucus region of southern Russia, has a frightening historical precedent, though with now modern characteristics. One key difference is the source of the anti-Semitism appears to be coming in this Muslim-majority region in reaction to the conflict in the Middle East. Also, the mob formed thanks to social media, with information circulating that “refugees from Israel” would arrive on a regular Red Wings flight from Tel Aviv, protesters began gathering at Makhachkala airport around 7 p.m. local time.

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In The News
Jakob Mieszkowski-Lapping, Emma Albright and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Palestinians Trapped In Northern Gaza Between Israeli And Hamas Orders — Mideast War, Day 7

A full siege is on in Gaza, and there's little room for escape for civilians.

Updated Oct. 13, at 5:55 p.m.

The reality of Palestinian civilians caught in the middle of warring parties has never been more evident than right now in northern Gaza.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Catherine Dupeyron

Ukraine War Sparks Divisions Among Israel's Russian Population

Russian speakers represent 15% of the Israeli population. And now, the war in Ukraine is bringing long-simmering tensions in their community to the surface.

ISRAEL — Tatiana was born in Russia, but her heart is with Ukraine — and not only because she has been married for 20 years to Alon Gour, who is from Kyiv.

"As soon as Putin came to power in 2000, I campaigned against him. He is a KGB officer and there are no good people in the KGB," explains the 59-year-old from Khabarovsk, a city 8,200 kilometers (5,100 miles) from Moscow and 1,000 km (620 miles) from the Sea of Japan.

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Tatiana, who is not Jewish, came to Israel in 1999. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, she and her husband spend every evening and every Shabbat looking after Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Israel, and sending whatever they can to Ukraine. In their apartment in Kfar Saba, north of Tel Aviv, boxes ready for departure are stacked in every corner. Above the bookcase of the living room, two flags are intertwined: one in the colors of Israel, the other those of Ukraine.

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Eva Marie Kogel

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

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Carl-Johan Karlsson

Why Sweden Has An Antisemitism Problem

In October 1943, nearly the entire Jewish population of Denmark made a perilous crossing from their Nazi-occupied country to neighboring Sweden. Setting out from ports and beaches along the coast, some 7,000 people arrived in rowboats and canoes to the safe shores of the port city of Malmö.

Now, 78 years later, in the same city, Jewish books in a storefront have to be covered up due to fears of vandalism.
It was the Malmö City Archives that last week was preparing a display of Jewish literature to be open to the public on Friday. But at the end of the day, the books and posters were covered with a blanket — with the archivist fearing damage to the windows over the weekend, Swedish daily Expressen reports.

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Roger-Pol Droit

The Foul Beast: After Pittsburgh, A Reminder From Brecht

To act, let's start by not looking away.


PARIS — "The belly is still fertile from which the foul beast sprang." We know these words, which close Bertolt Brecht's tragic farce The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. The play was written in 1941, but became famous much later, featuring Hitler as a mafioso, partly inspired by Al Capone. Though the last line is often cited, the words that precede it are typically forgotten: "Therefore, learn how to see and not to gape." Yes, indeed: seeing is something that must be learned. So let's try.

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Reyhan Şahin*

Anti-Semitism In German Rap, A Loaded Question


MUNICH — Artists are now using anti-Semitism and Islamism to shock, and that's not surprising. But if both listeners and rappers started to finally take music seriously, this could change.

Since Germany's top music prize, the Echo awards, honored the rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang, there has been a misunderstanding that both sides of the debate have somehow agreed upon: that anti-Semitism is part of hip-hop culture. Some intend it as criticism; others want to defend the two rappers. But no matter how you mean it, it's bullshit. Too many who are now talking and writing about the issue have no idea what rap is, to begin with.

In German rap, anti-Semitic content became visible only with the rise of rappers such as Bushido and Haftbefehl, around ten years ago. Kool Savaş, who started in the 1990s and is a pioneer of battle-rap in Germany, raps transphobic, homophobic and misogynist lyrics, but has never used anti-Semitic words. One might ask why so few have been upset about his words. But one thing is certain: The claim that anti-Semitism is part of rap is simply not true. This trend is relatively new.

It was born and grew because rap was a relatively unnoticed genre for a long time. In Germany, it was also considered to be the music of the lower classes and adolescents. This lack of interest from the public allowed the formation of a semi-criminal parallel community with its own "code of honor" — or at least one that pretends to be criminal, because that belongs to the bad boy image and offers street credibility. Much of it was and is only for show.

In recent years, the Echo awards have shown how rap has become a mass-market genre. What started out as a niche now reaches an audience of millions. The wider public is half-fascinated, half-disgusted by this strange alternative environment. It must be noted that the supposed street credibility of a rapper is also linked to whether he or she comes from an immigrant background, preferably a Muslim one.

The provocation must come in new ways, and reach new extremes.

But how did it come to now produce lyrics like "My body is more defined than those of Auschwitz inmates," with a tastelessness that's hard to beat? Obviously, for the Bad Boys it's no longer enough to "f*ck hookers and mothers' and "fill themselves with coke," rap texts, it seems, now have to embrace anti-Semitism, Islamism and conspiracy theories in order to catch the attention of their target group. What better way to shock the young buyers and middle-class white men who sit in the record company offices, ready to pay such artists a lot of money for music productions and videos. Maybe they want to be a bit of a gangster themselves, as German actor Moritz Bleibtreu suggested.

The provocation must come in new ways, and reach new extremes. Bushido, for example, relates to Osama bin Laden and identifies with the suicide pilots of 9/11. After the massacre of Charlie Hebdo he put a picture of himself in the sweater with the inscription "Paris' on the net. That suits extremists, not rappers.

German rapper and writer of this essay Reyhan Şahin a.k.a. Lady Bitch Ray — Photo: Roger Murmann

The neo-gangsters from Frankfurt and North Rhine-Westphalia have managed in recent years to again make woman the object of their degrading lyrics. The arguments that one hears defending misogynist rappers are now used to brush aside allegations of anti-Semitism: First, rap only depicts society; secondly, only the musical ego is speaking here, not the private person. Both arguments fail to take rap seriously enough and underestimate its influence.

Rap is indeed art, but art shapes society. Art can and should be political. In anti-Semitic rap, a societal problem becomes clear: From record labels to hip-hop journalists, many worry too little about what's actually "cool" and what's problematic. The subculture does not discuss its blind spots, but repeats and runs over its own image more and more. But we need to talk about anti-Semitism as well as Islamism, female contempt and homophobia. The best way is to talk about it with the artists themselves, but critical hip-hop journalism is currently almost non-existent.

Neither anti-Semitism nor sexism and homophobia belong to the rap scene per se. Rap, like any art, is what the artist does with it. So, guys, stop playing down your lines! Become political, the way it truly belongs to rap. Public Enemy's Chuck D once said rap was "the black CNN." So where are the voices of the artist-as-cool-social-critic? Thoughtful Muslim rappers? Why don't they get heard by the record companies?

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