On this episode, Jewish Currents editor-in-chief Arielle Angel speaks with two Germany-based writers and organizers, Emily Dische-Becker and Michael Sappir, about the bizarre and worrisome ways that Germany’s understandably zealous Holocaust memory culture is playing out among Jews, Palestinians, and other Germans in contemporary Germany. An anti-BDS resolution passed in the Bundestag in 2019 has led to draconian repression of speech across German society, much of it directed not only at Palestinian Germans, but also at some critical Israeli Jews, upward of 10,000 of whom live in Germany. These politics are complicated further by the prevalence on the left of an “anti-Deutsche” tendency, characterized by strong support for the state of Israel as part of a nominally antifascist politics, and also by high numbers of German converts to Judaism who sometimes bring different assumptions about Jewishness to the table when weighing in on questions of communal concern.
Recently, Dische-Becker, a German American leftist Jew, has become a target of the ongoing German anti-antisemitism hysteria. As one of the organizers of the recent Hijacking Memory conference in Berlin, which sought to explore the ways the global right is appropriating Holocaust memory, and as an erstwhile adviser to the German art fair documenta, which has been embroiled in antisemitism scandals for months, Dische-Becker has emerged as the latest bogeyman for Germans eager to prove their anti-antisemitism bona fides. In this conversation, Dische-Becker and Sappir lay the groundwork for Germany’s upside-down politics and discuss the meaning of the recent attacks.
This is Part 1 of a two-part series on Germany. Part 2, featuring different guests, will cover crackdowns on Palestinian identity and political expression, particularly in German media.
ARTICLES, STATEMENTS AND WEBSITES MENTIONED:
“The Challenge of Defending Memory in Germany” by Joshua Leifer
“When ‘Antifa’ Is the Enemy,” an interview with Michael Sappir by Isabel Frey
Hannah Tzuberi’s lecture on “Desiring Victimhood: German Self-Formation and the Figure of the Jew” at the Hijacking Memory Conference in Berlin
“Documenta Was a Whole Vibe. Then a Scandal Killed the Buzz.” by Siddhartha Mitter
Thanks to Sophia Steinert-Evoy for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).”