Chancellor Angela Merkel has made it very clear that there is no place in Germany for hatred directed against Jews or any other form of xenophobia. This applies to everybody in Germany, whether they are old established residents or new arrivals. In her speech on perceiving and combating anti-Semitism she looked in particular at online hate speech and anti-Semitism in sport and among migrants.
The Inter-Parliamentary Conference for Combating Anti-Semitism aims to share findings, procedures and recommendations, and to encourage the dissemination of these, so as to more effectively address anti-Semitism. 140 parliamentarians from around the world are taking part in the conference, which is hosted by the Federal Foreign Office and the German Bundestag.
The Chancellor called on her audience to keep the memory alive. "Whoever engages with the horror of the Holocaust, for instance by visiting a former concentration camp, whoever engages with the many and varied witnesses of this unholy period of suffering, will be moved deep inside." Memories make the responsibility clear, to follow up the oft-heard "Never again!" with action, especially when human dignity is threatened or violated, said the Chancellor.
It is quite particularly the eye-witnesses, who ensure with their reports and their recollections that the horrors of National Socialism are not forgotten. "Although most eye-witnesses are now dead, their recollections are firmly anchored in our memories." This is all the more important because anti-Semitism is still found today in everyday life, stressed Angela Merkel.
She gave the examples of the desecration of Jewish gravestones, attacks on synagogues and verbal attacks. "This is why our security authorities take every attack on Jews or Jewish facilities very seriously. Anti-Semitic crimes are rigorously investigated and pursued with the full force of the law," said the Chancellor.
Against anti-Semitism in sport
Angela Merkel also stressed that action must be taken to address anti-Semitic attacks in sport. Attacks against participants in the Makkabi Jewish Games in Berlin, for instance, demonstrate how necessary this is.
In this context the Chancellor thanked all football clubs and fan groups "who are taking firm action to address this issue" and pointed out that the German Football Association were attending the conference.
Accepting the challenges posed by the internet
In view of the hate speech and rabble-rousing spread via the internet, the Chancellor pointed to the resolution of the Inter-Parliamentary Conference for Combating Anti-Semitism held in London in 2009. This resolution is every bit as valid today and it lays out important approaches for addressing anti-Semitism, said Angela Merkel.
She also pointed out that hatred of Jews and hatred of the state of Israel all too often come together to form an unholy alliance. "When we condemn anti-Semitism in Germany and in Europe, this then applies to every form of anti-Jewish expression. It embraces anti-Semitic comments and attacks cloaked as criticism of the policies of the state of Israel, but which in fact are nothing but an expression of hate against Jewish people."
Trust is a German commitment
More than 50 years ago, Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany established diplomatic relations. Today, close German-Israeli cooperation is taken for granted, said the Chancellor, "but in view of Germany’s break with civilisation, the Shoa, it certainly cannot be taken for granted."
That is why the trust vested in Germany today "must be recognised by us Germans as the commitment to realise that a positive future can only be shaped in the awareness of our enduring responsibility for the past," said Angela Merkel.
The 3rd Inter-Parliamentary Conference for Combating Anti-Semitism is meeting from 13 to 15 March at the German Bundestag’s Marie Elisabeth Lüders House and at the Federal Foreign Office. The organiser is the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA).