Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Germany: Syrian refugees bring their own anti-Semitism to Germany

Via The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (Rawan Osman):
With this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day recognizing the 75th anniversary of the freeing of Auschwitz, it is also important for the German public to address the potential implications of a new wave of anti-Semitism within its borders. Germany’s notable acceptance of over one million refugees from Syria, where anti-Semitic propaganda has been a key feature of the Assad family’s overall messaging, has both triggered both a rise in Germany’s far-right and brought Germany’s Jewish populations into contact with a new type of anti-Semitism developed as one method of control in the Assad dictatorship.

The uncritically anti-Israel and anti-Semitic tropes that have been taught, promoted, or tolerated in Syria pose a new set of challenges to German authorities who are still wrestling with their country’s past. Germany, because of its history, has accepted upon itself a greater responsibility than other European countries to take in refugees. Now it must take on another major responsibility: effectively educating these communities about the Holocaust and the insidious nature of anti-Semitism.

I am particularly conscious of this issue as a Syrian who now calls Germany home. Before the start of the Syrian civil war, I traveled to Europe with the intention of learning the skills I would need to open a wine bar in the old city of Damascus. But my sojourn to the German countryside opened my eyes to much more than the intricacies of the wine industry. There, I confronted the root of my own prejudices towards Jews while in the process coming to a realization about the role anti-Semitism plays in own country’s deception of its people. […]

Many of these refugees fled from Syria—one of the most anti-Semitic countries on earth—to Germany, which is still repairing its complex and fraught relationship with the Jewish people. Now, Germany must recognize and seek understand the embedded nature of anti-Semitism in Syria to better help its newest residents to live lives free of state-sponsored prejudice. 
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