The supreme irony of German anti-Semitism is that it took the horrors of the Holocaust and the near-total destruction of German Jewry to banish it from wholesale public acceptance.
These days, anti-Semitism still has a bad name in Germany, at least under the law. It's illegal there to incite hatred against Jews (and other ethnic and religious groups) or to deny and even minimize the nation’s Nazi-era Holocaust crimes.
But that hasn't been enough to keep anti-Semitism from reemerging in Germany in a big way of late, particularly among the far-right and Muslim immigrants. I’ll say more below, but for now just keep this in mind: the Israel angle.
Germany, of course, isn't the only European nation to fall prey to a re-run of what many over the years have labeled the world’s oldest hatred. Examples abound in the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary and elsewhere.
Nor is rising anti-Semitism in the West confined to Europe. It's being more freely expressed in the United States -- remember Charlottesville? -- and in Canada, as well.
By way of illustration, here’s a bit from a recent story from Poland by JTA, the global Jewish news wire service. (Journalists and others with an interest in Jewish-related news should read it regularly; it's free.)
Things went from bad to worse following a row between Poland and Israel over Warsaw passing a law in January that criminalizes blaming the Polish nation for Nazi crimes. The dispute unleashed the worst wave of anti-Semitism since the fall of the Iron Curtain, according to Rafal Pankowski, co-founder of the Polish anti-racism group Never Again.
In the wake of the fight over the law, he told JTA: “In the space of one month, I have seen more anti-Semitic hate speech than in the previous 10 years combined.”
Ah, another Israel-angle tease. But first, a personal aside to make my bias clear.