Read the op-ed by B’nai B’rith Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn in Radio Jai (in Spanish). This op-ed has been translated for your convenience.
A professional investigation in 10 of the 16 federal states of Germany, corresponding to 2022, indicates that five people per day were the target of far-right, racist or anti-Semitic violence. 2,871 people were directly affected by the 2,093 attacks in Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, Berlin, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Baden-Württemberg, Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein. Robert Kusche, member of the Association of Counseling Centers for Victims of Far-right, Racist and Anti-Semitic Violence and director of the Regional Offices of Education, Integration and Democracy of Saxony, said that this is “a new increase in the number of attacks.” Among the victims, 520 were children and adolescents, almost double compared to 288 in 2021. Crimes for injuries increased, there was one murder and 17 attempted homicides. Anti-Semitic attacks have quadrupled, from 54 in 2021 to 204 in 2022.
Kusche was categorical in his statements so that there are no doubts. He said: “The poor and incomplete registration and recognition by the police and justice of racism, anti-Semitism and far-rightism as motives of crime hides the extent of the threat and the dimensions of far-right violence and leaves those affected defenseless.” To make the picture worse, the lawyer and head of the Ombudsman’s office in Berlin, Doris Liebscher was lapidary: “Too often, victims of racist and anti-Semitic violence are attributed guilt or co-responsibility in an attack, and to this is added that, above all, racist motives are hardly recognized as such or are not taken into account by the investigative authorities. nor the courts, which leads the victims to choose not to denounce.”
This context means that no one can be surprised by what happened at the Mercedes Benz Arena in Berlin this week. The musician and anti-Semitic militant Roger Waters adorned his presentation there adding all the aggressions, grievances, brutalities, that a society or blind or accomplice or both can allow, and even more, to applaud and cheer. The Mercedes Benz Arena was this week Munich 1933. Waters arrived on stage dressed in the SS uniform. Waters hung a pig again, but this time with legends, it’s not something that someone didn’t understand the message, and the legends together with caricatured businessmen as in Der Sturmer said that “they pull the piolas to lead the world.” Waters put on the screen the name of a journalist who died in the West Bank during an armed confrontation and equated her death with that of Anne Frank. In 2023, in the capital of Germany, Nazism returned from the hand of an Englishman who fervently supports Putin, applauds every massacre in Ukraine and hates Jews with Hitler’s fervor. In 2023, in the capital of Germany, the SS uniform was seen again with impunity on a stage, while thousands and thousands howled in delirium in the 1930s. In 2023, in the capital of Germany, the Shoah was trivialized as much as possible, 6 million murdered Jews were spat on and the memory of Anne Frank and one and a half million Jewish children killed by the Nazi hordes were trampled on.
Everything that from now on more can say, if they dare, the authorities of the country and the city, is missing. No excuse is credible. They were left to a racist, anti-Semitic, defender of war criminals to commit without limits, crimes that, at least in Germany, were supposed until this week, which are serious. Waters is the instigator, the one who wants the same thing as Iran or Hitler: to wipe out the Jews, wherever they are. Who stopped the instigator? Who prevented the perpetration of the sum of all hatreds? That’s not freedom of expression. Ridiculous. Wearing a Nazi uniform, mocking the Holocaust, making speeches (not songs) so that the howling crowd comes out to increase the number of victims of Nazi violence in Germany, that is very far from freedom of expression. That’s aggression. Eighty years after the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto, 85 years after The Night of the Crystals, this week, in Berlin, the Nazis threw a party about the ashes of the victims of the Shoah. Don’t even think about babbling explanations. It is definitely unforgivable.
At the end of last week, Ukrainian President Zelensky was invited to appear before the G7 and before the Arab League meeting. The League held a special meeting to welcome Syrian President Bashir Assad back into its ranks, something we discussed last week. Zelensky also maintained his integrity, thanked the open forum and did not leave the Syrian dictator without mentioning with some diplomacy. Assad exists because Russia and Iran helped him kill his opponents. Russia, as Hitler did in Spain between 1936 and 1939 to support his friend Franco, experimented with weapons and tactics in Syria, which he is now using in his crimes in Ukraine. But that’s a minute for the Arab League. Now they need to legitimize Assad. But of course, there are always political accidents that show the real face of dictators, of racists. At the time Zelensky was going to speak in the capital of Saudi Arabia, the Russian Embassy in Egypt posted a tweet that was captured on the screen. Even Roger Waters wouldn’t have written it better. Tweet text: “The president of the Nazi regime in Kiev has bloody ties with Israel. He came to an Arab political event and not only blatantly lied about the roots of the conflict, but also dared to condemn the neutral Arab position in this confrontation.”
Hatred is unfolded. Zelensky is Jewish, so for the barbarian invader, the “bloody ties with Israel” appear. The Protocols of the Wise of Zion and My Struggle are back, because with the shield of freedom of expression, the Nazi machinery could be deployed in Berlin without ifs and buts. Let’s know that these facts are not encapsulated. Haters act so that similar or worse acts can be generated all over the world if possible. Waters will arrive in Argentina and Uruguay in November, among other places. In Uruguay he was already declared an illustrious citizen before the pandemic. And he didn’t act differently. In Uruguay, the champion of the Hebraica Macabi and Nacional basketball league is defining the best of 7 games. The chants against Hebraica from the stands do not move away from what can be said in Europe in the same circumstances. And the networks have been flooded with insults that will surely help Waters’ anti-Semitic repertoire. And we see that it is possible in Berlin, in Montevideo, in the UN, from a Russian embassy, because the support of hatred feels unpunished. Will there be a chance that you may not feel unpunished? Russia and its accomplices feel that anything goes. In Berlin, some may react, but after irreparable damage. In Uruguay and other countries in our region, let me be naively a little optimistic.
Eduardo Kohn, Ph.D., is the B’nai B’rith International Director of Latin American Affairs. Click here to read more of his expert analysis.