Dr. Clemens Heni is director of The Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA)
November 8, 2016 was probably the most shocking day in the history of elections in the United States of America. It was a huge victory for the anti-Western camp all over Europe, North America and elsewhere. If you can behave and speak like Trump, every single leading neo-Nazi, right-wing extremist, New Right, Alt Right, right-wing populist or fascist politician at least in Europe can become President or Prime Minister, take Norbert Hofer in Austria as next example.
Trump lives in the post-fact world. He lied and lied and lied – and nothing happened. Like Boris Johnson lied, the people voted for Brexit and the next day he had to admit that he just – lied and agitated with purpose.
A person who behaved like a misogynist, racist fascist was elected by the majority of Americans, according to the not-so-democratic American electoral system (Clinton won the popular vote with some one million more votes, and even several million more votes for her in California, New England or New York wouldn’t have changed anything, think about that. So why should more people go voting in these areas, states or cities, if it doesn’t change anything?).
The core problem we are facing is racism, white supremacism, authoritarian personalities all over America and Europe, nationalism and hatred of “the other,” be it Muslims, immigrants, women, LGBT people, physically disabled, left-wingers, liberals. Those who share Trump’s personality and agenda are for example Islamists.
Shadi Hamid, Senior Fellow – Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy, U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, writes about similarities between Trump and the Islamists:
As a minority and a Muslim, the result of this election is distressing—and perhaps the most frightening event I’ve experienced in my own country. (…) It’s almost unfair to compare Trump to the democratically elected Islamists that I normally study, since Trump’s open disrespect not just for liberal norms, but democratic ones as well, has been so unabashed. In his infamous statement during the final presidential debate, Trump refused to commit himself to democratic outcomes if his opponent won. Mainstream Islamist groups that participate in elections—whatever we think their true intentions are—have rarely gone this far. The differences between ethno-nationalist parties, such as Trump’s new Republicans, and religious parties are of course numerous, which makes the similarities all the more glaring. There is the same sense of victimization, real and imagined, at the hands of an entrenched elite, coupled with an acute sense of loss. In both cases, the leader of the movement is seen as the embodiment of the national will, representing “the people.”
However, the German pro-Israel camp is rather happy about a sexist and racist in the White House.
A leading organization, I Like Israel, run by Sacha Stawski, and organizer, for example, of the German Israel Congress and an active part of the German pro-Israel camp with their group Honestly Concerned, are not concerned at all. They are rather happy about the outcome of the American election.
ILI’s newsletter from Nov 13, 2016, links to a pro-Trump article by far right publicist Henryk M. Broder. Broder was a left-wing antifascist in the 1970s and published books about German neo-Nazi in the FRG. Later he also dealt with left wing and mainstream antisemitism in the 1980s. After 9/11, he documented German anti-Americanism and their rejection to fight jihad.
In recent years, though, he has become a mouthpiece of right-wing extremists and those who hate Islam – which must not be confused with fighting jihad and Islamism, like the author of this article who is the author of the 2011, 2013, and 2017 editions of the entry about Germany in the World Almanac of Islamism by the American Foreign Policy Council, based in Washington, D.C.
Broder was supportive of a crowd of far right and neo-Nazi people in Dresden, October, 3, 2016, the German day of “reunification.” They shouted in vulgar language against the elites of state and society, someone even hold a poster with a quote by the Nazi Party NSDAP and Goebbels. On TV, Broder supported the crowd of the “Patriots against the Islamization of the Occident” (Pegida).
Even a former ally of Broder, publicist Michael Miersch, in January 2015 left Broder’s page on the internet, Axis of the Good (Achgut or Achse des Guten), due to the nasty right-wing extremist climate on that page. Ever since, it became even worse. Broder’s page is even part of a campaign against pro-Israel, anti-antisemitism and anti-racist Amadeu Antonio Foundation, run by Anetta Kahane.
Now, two independent (former?) Marxists join the ranks of the pro-Trumpists in Germany, Alex Feuerherdt, a blogger, and Gerhard Scheit, a Vienna based scholar in literature, author of the publishing house ça ira and the journal sans phrase. Scheit wrote an article on Feuerherdt’s blog LizasWelt, where he insinuates that German philosopher Hegel might have had a play in the outcome of the election. Hegel’s “ruse of reason” was behind the election, Scheit and Feuerherdt believe.
They derealize every single sexist or racist rant, including those against Latinos as well as physically disabled. They believe, even against the intention of Trump reason did win! Reason! Never was the left so dumb or ignorant and unreasonable as in this article by Viennese Marxist Gerhard Scheit. He and his publisher Feuerherdt takes side with both fascism and antisemitism in the White House, take Bannon and breitbart.com as worst examples, but they are not the only ones. Ha’aretz left wing Zionist columnist Bradley Burston concludes:
We should have been more active in countering the preposterous but widely spread lies about Hillary Clinton being anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. Trump’s kid-gloves coddling of anti-Semites and their vicious works have served him in good stead. Now the haters will be only too happy to return the favor by stepping up their attacks. On Wednesday, the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s murderous Kristallnacht pogroms which pre-figured the Holocaust, Trump’s victory gave anti-Semites across America an additional reason to raise a glass in celebration. Within minutes of the announcement of Trump’s victory, former Klan leader David Duke – whom the ADL has called “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite” – tweeted, “This is one of the most exciting nights of my life – make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump!”
It is shocking and a disgrace to scholarship and Shoah remembrance to see someone like Gerhard Scheit supporting a fascist like Donald Trump who is about to employ the Alt Right in the White House. Formerly, Scheit edited books by Holocaust survivor Jean Améry.
While the ADL’ Jonathan Greenblatt at its Nov. 17 conference “Never is Now” is shocked by Trump, Jewish historians in the US urge America to stand clear from Trump, antisemitism, racism and hatred of Muslims, the German pro-Israel camp takes side with the Far Right.
The group of Jewish historians declares:
We condemn unequivocally those agitators who have ridden Trump’s coattails to propagate their toxic ideas about Jews. More broadly, we call on all fair-minded Americans to condemn unequivocally the hateful and discriminatory language and threats that have been directed by him and his supporters against Muslims, women, Latinos, African-Americans, disabled people, LGBT people and others. Hatred of one minority leads to hatred of all. Passivity and demoralization are luxuries we cannot afford. We stand ready to wage a struggle to defend the constitutional rights and liberties of all Americans. It is not too soon to begin mobilizing in solidarity. (…) However, it is not only in defense of others that we feel called to speak out. We witnessed repeated anti-Semitic expressions and insinuations during the Trump campaign. Much of this anti-Semitism was directed against journalists, either Jewish or with Jewish-sounding names. The candidate himself refused to denounce—and even retweeted–language and images that struck us as manifestly anti-Semitic. By not doing so, his campaign gave license to haters of Jews, who truck in conspiracy theories about world Jewish domination.“
One of these anti-Semitic tropes was Trump’s and his camp’s agitation against George Soros. They insinuate, as does Hungarian President Victor Orbán, that Soros is funding NGOs in order to bring refugees into Europe and to destabilize European nation-states. Soros is Jewish and that kind of conspiracy myths are a classic in modern anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism is an essential component of Trump and his camp around the world. Other outrageous quotes by Trump can be found here, including this one: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
Again: Not even the most notorious argument by Trump, the influx of immigrants in Europe and the end of European nation-states, has a point. As if 1, 2 or even 5 million immigrants or refugees could topple a continent or the European Union (EU, which is just the Western part of Europe, not including Western Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) with over 450 million inhabitants, not including the UK.
Take the 20% Muslims Israel has, by the way, but the German pro-Israel camp is not really interested in what Israel really is. They are also obsessed in fighting the circumcision or “archaic rituals.” The (post?)Marxists of the journal “Bahamas” went so far and urged their few followers not to join the first ever pro-circumcision rally in Germany in August 2012. “Bahamas” pretends to be pro-Israel, but their agenda is mainly anti-Islam (and not just anti-Islamist). In addition, they have an anti-feminist, sexist agenda, like their prayer leader Justus Wertmüller, a feminist student group in Frankfurt argues against him.
The leading left wing monthly, though, Konkret and its publisher Hermann L. Gremliza, is to some degree different (not the journal as such, but at least the publisher, I assume). While Gremliza in 1976 took sides with the anti-Zionist and antisemitic hijacking of Entebbe, and had some kind of Schadenfreude on 9/11 and even published conspiracy myths after 9/11 in his paper, he changed sides and is now a leading pro-Israel voice in the small left-wing camp in the FRG. For example, Gremliza published a book by American sociologist and political scientist Professor Andrei S. Markovits from the University of Michigan (who in 2006 was the second reader of my doctoral dissertation at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, about the threat deriving from mainstreaming the “New Right” in the FRG from 1970-2005) against anti-Americanism and antisemitism in Germany. I very well recall an event with Gremliza and Markovits, promoting Markovits’ book, Nov. 19, 2004, in Café Sybille in Berlin-Friedrichshain.
Gremliza is also an outspoken antifascist, anti-racist and against the New Right like the Alternative for Germany (AfD). In 1964, he started as a student at the University city of Tübingen in the south-west of the FRG and decovered the Nazi past of “anthopologists” (Volkskunde in German) such as Gustav Bebermeyer.
Taken Feuerherdt and Scheit as examples, this stance by Gremliza against the Far Right has to be emphasized. Gremliza also rejects Germans to give Jews advice in regard to the circumcision. “After Auschwitz,” he says, “Germans should stay away from that kind of advice – at least for the next 1000 years,” he says in a book he published with Suhrkamp publishing house in 2016.
Suhrkamp was the place where Gershom Scholem and Critical Theory were published.
We need a pro-Zionist approach in Germany and Europe that is antiracist, antisexist, anti-Alt Right, anti-New Right, anti-nationalist, antifascist, anti-antisemitic and anti-Islamist, of course.
For many in Europe, it is too difficult a task to be both Zionist and anti-European nationalism. That is the history of both the 19th and 20th centuries. To promote European nationalism will lead to more antisemitism and more Trumps all over Europe. Trump supports Assad, and therefore the Iranian regime, and his admiration for Turkish Islamofascist leader Erdogan as well as Russian authoritarian regime under Putin are shocking, too. The worst case is of course the red button and nukes in the hand of a narcissist lunatic in the White House.
To embrace someone who fought the most vulgar and ugly election campaign ever in a western democracy in recent decades as substantial parts of the German pro-Israel camp does is not just suicidal for Zionism and the Jewish state. It is in itself sexist and racist. Every single sexist and racist rant during the campaign was a reminder to victims of sexism and racism. This retraumatization lies at the bottom of this campaign by the Alt Right’s superhero Donald J. Trump.
Many in Germany saw the end of public life when hundreds of criminal male Arabs or Muslims mainly from the Maghreb abused women on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Hamburg and other cities. A man who “grabbed women by the pussy” and elsewhere, who just “kisses them” if he likes to was elected President of the United States – and this is now portrayed as a savior of the West. Read: if Muslims abuse women it is a scandal and crime, if a white American man does so, he is elected President.
Broder was the keynote speaker of the German Israel Congress 2016, Feuerherdt is a close ally of him and an author at Broder’s Blog. They represent substantial parts of the German pro-Israel tent, which no longer is a tent, as a collaboration with people who endorse Donald Trump is impossible for any antifascist, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-antisemitic, Zionist position.
Israel needs serious allies. The German and Austrian pro-Israel camps are done as long as they are represented by people like those criticized above.
It is a perfidious tactics to abuse Israel and the Jews and embrace Trump, as he is supposedly pro-Israel. Someone who abuses women, who promotes antisemitic conspiracy myths, who mocks Jewish journalists, who defames Muslims and Latinos, who likes Erdogan, Putin and Assad (=Iran) – a friend of Israel?
He is a vulgar sexist, racist, a fascist and an enemy of the Western world. “Make America great again” translates into “destroy the Western world.” To weaken the West and to embolden the jihadists or secular enemies of the free world like Russia. That is Donald J. Trump.
German mainstream journalists of the center-right daily Welt, Richard Herzinger and Hannes Stein, are clear about the threat deriving of Trump and the Alt Right in the White House. Trump is a hero for the anti-liberal, anti-Western international camp. Herzinger writes: “to underestimate Trump is suicidal.”
Finally, look at Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, an Irish Labor Party Senator. He spoke in the Irish Senate and said the following:
How [are we] supposed to deal with this monster who has just been elected President of America? (…) America has just elected a fascist (…) I am embarrassed by the reaction of the Irish government to what’s happened in America. Can the government not understand what is happening? We are at an ugly international crossroads. What is happening in Britain is appalling. What is happening across Europe is appalling. It has echoes from the 1930s, and America, the most powerful country in the world, has just elected a fascist. And the best you can come out with from a government spokesperson is: ‘Well, we have to talk about foreign direct investment. We have to be conscious of American investment in Ireland.’ There are 50,000 Irish people illegal in America who I am quite sure are fearful of their futures. When are we going to have the moral courage to speak in terms other than economy all the time and to realize what is happening? I am frightened. I am absolutely frightened for what’s happening to this world and what’s happening to our inability to stand up for it.”
Jamie Kirchick, fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative, correspondent for the Daily Beast, and columnist for Tablet Magazine, puts it like this:
To put it in terms our insult-strewing president-elect can relate to: Don’t put lipstick on this pig.”