BERLIN – The media frenzy in Germany in the past few days over the recommendation issued by the president of the Central Council of Jews not to walk around with a skullcap in "problematic neighborhoods" (meaning neighborhoods with a population which is mostly made up of Muslim immigrants) points to the German public's superficial way of dealing with the local anti-Semitism problem.
"How can such a thing happen in today's Germany, 70 years after the Holocaust?" is the politically correct question heard from every direction.
How can it, really? A number of other much more serious incidents have taken place in recent months without creating any excitement. First, the anti-Semitic rampage in the anti-Israel protests which took place in the past summer on the streets of Germany's cities during the conflict between Hamas and Israel.
A late response to this outburst of hatred was the decision made by German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, to appoint a committee of experts to present recommendations for the battle against anti-Semitism. Nothing has happened since then. Actually, something has happened. The minister decided not to include Jewish representatives in the new committee. In other words, he denied the Jews' right to influence decisions about an issue which greatly affects their daily life from within the committee.
Different organizations expressed their anger over the expert committee's puzzling composition, but the interior minister decided to ignore the criticism. Jewish organizations, which see de Maizière's approach as an attempt by the German government to underestimate the importance of dealing with the anti-Semitism problem, appointed their own expert committee last weekend in order to prevent a political slumber in light of the recent security-related escalation experienced by Jews in most Western European countries.
The Germany interior minister's motive can possibly be found in a study authored recently by the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the Technical University of Berlin, one of the only academic bodies established in Europe to deal with the issue of anti-Semitism. In the past few years, however, this body, which received generous governmental funding, has begun diverting its studies from anti-Semitism to Islamophobia, claiming it is a more urgent problem in the current European reality.
The new study, "Anti-Semitism as Problem and Symbol – Phenomena and Interventions in Berlin," presents a clear trend to cut down on the dimensions of anti-Semitism in Germany, mainly among the Muslim communities, and accuse Jewish organizations of overrating the extent of the problem.
The study creates the impression, according to Jewish organizations, that anti-Semitism is not a problem of the German society, but of Jewish bodies which are fighting anti-Semitism in order to create their right to exist.
Germany has discovered the most efficient way to fight anti-Semitism: Deny its existence or claim that anti-Semitism is basically a legitimate way of criticizing Israel. And then, they tell us that Germany has learned a lesson from its history.