Philosopher Victim of Anti-Semitic Attack and Police Brutality


Yitzhak Melamed, professor of philosophy at Johns Hopkins University, was the victim of an anti-Semitic attack on the streets of Bonn, and then was beaten by German police who mistook him for the assailant. To add insult to injury, the German police are now apparently lying about what happened.

The incident was reported in The Jerusalem Post on Thursday (via Adrian Kind), with few details. Professor Melamed has now provided his own account of what happened in a public Facebook post.

Professor Melamed was in Bonn to give a keynote address at Bonn University’s summer school in classical German philosophy. He was being walked around the town by Lina Steiner, a professor at Bonn, when the incident began. He writes:

A stocky man about 1.60 meters tall approached us and asked me “Bist Du Jude?” and then, added that he is Palestinian. I started saying that I have sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians and deeply regret the current depressing state of Islamic-Jewish relations, when the person (realizing that I am a foreigner) started shouting in English: “I fuck Jews. I fuck Jews.” Realizing where this conversation is going Dr. Steiner and I passed to the other side and moved away from the person who then followed us with his persistent curses. Then, he tried to throw away my yarlmulka (Kippa) shouting in German that in Germany I am not allowed to wear a yarmulka. I took my yalmulka from the ground and put it back on my head. The guy got angrier: “No. You are not allowed to have the yarmulka here” (that’s my recollection of his shouts in German). He then shouted several times: “Kein Juden in Deutschland”, and threw my yalmulka for the second time. I picked it up and put it on my head. “You don’t listen to me” he shouted, and threw my yarmulka for the third time. I picked it up and put it on my head. He pushed me, and then we moved aside.

As this was happening, Lina asked bypassers to call the police, and a few of them made the phone call (there were quite a few people around). The attacker, at that point, went to the nearby lawn and started walking in circles. After about five minutes he came back to us. He pushed me and then I tried to kick him in the groin so that he would leave us. I didn’t hit, but he was deterred and went again to the green, walking in circles. I asked Lina where the police is. Then the attacker came for the third time. He pushed again, cursed, and I tried (and failed) to kick his groin. Then, we heard the siren of the police. It was at least 20 minutes after we asked to call the police (there were many passers-by around who could attest). The attacker moved slowly, then once the police car was about to park he started running away.

Professor Melamed, concerned that the attacker would get away, ran after him so he could point him out to the police. The police were running from the opposite direction towards the attacker and Melamed, but ran past the attacker.

I didn’t have much time to wonder, as almost immediately four or five policemen with heavy guard jumped over me (two from the front, and two or three from the back). They pushed my head into the ground, and then while I was totally incapacitated and barely able to breath (not to mention move a finger), they started punching my face. After a few dozen punches, I started shouting in English that I was the wrong person. They put handcuffs on my hands, behind my back, and after a few dozen additional punches to my face while I am shouting that I’m the wrong person, they finally moved from my back. I was now able to breath. I asked them to open my bag and reach for my identifying documents. My glasses were broken. My watch torn, and then after another 5 or 10 minutes they realized they made an error. One of the policemen came, took off my handcuffs, and told me that they captured person who attacked us. Then the same policemen shouted at me in a didactic tone (in English): “Don’t get in trouble with the German Police!.” This was more than enough. I told the policeman sardonically, “I am no longer afraid of the German police. The German police murdered my grandfather. They murdered my grandmother. They murdered my uncle, and they murdered my aunt. All in one day in September 1942. So, alas, I am not afraid of them anymore.” The policeman was baffled. I asked him for his name, and he refused to answer. I asked again, and again got no answer. 

Professor Melamed recounts his difficulty filing a complaint about the incident, hearing police officers lie, deny, and threaten to fabricate charges of resisting arrest, his face “bleeding throughout the conversation.”

You can read the rest of his account here.

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Colin McGinn
Colin McGinn
3 years ago

Disturbing but not surprising story. There is a new norm of assertion abroad, exemplified in the extreme by Trump: not “aim at the truth” or “impart genuine knowledge” or even “share your beliefs”, but “say whatever you think you can get away with with your base”. A proposition is true iff your base believes it, or can be made to. This is coupled with brutality because you justify brutality by reliance on the the new conception of truth.Report

M
M
Reply to  Colin McGinn
3 years ago

I agree that this event is disturbing, alas not surprising. I do not think, however, that it has much (if anything) to do with a *new norm of assertion*. This gives the German police too much credit. As someone who has lived in Germany all my life, engaging in my fair share of protests, demonstrations etc., I can assure you that what the cops did here has always been standard procedure. Disproportionate use of force coupled with refusal to identify themselves, lying to the press and in court to protect themselves and their colleagues at all costs. Not all of them all the time of course, but definitely in a recognizable systematic way.Report

Colin McGinn
Colin McGinn
Reply to  M
3 years ago

I’m sure you’re right about this, but the new norm is that this kind of lying has now become quite standard, as is tolerance of it. You can lie your head off and expect your “base” not to object. Trump is the gaudy extreme. Civilization totters (to paraphrase Frege).Report

Niels
Niels
Reply to  Colin McGinn
3 years ago

Seriously, what ‘base’ are you talking about here? This is a story about police brutality and policemen who are trying to get away with doing something they were not supposed to do. It has nothing to do with any ´norm of assertion´, let alone Trump or ‘civilization’ in general.Report

karl
karl
Reply to  Colin McGinn
3 years ago

I really don’t want to be rude, but in what argumentative community does it make sense to assert that a German/Palestinian (two of the most identifiable anti-Semitic groups of the past 100 years) does something antisemitic, therefore it is Trump’s fault because he created a new norm of assertion?Report

Stephen
Stephen
Reply to  karl
3 years ago

You should really learn to read. Nobody said it’s Trump’s fault, or that he “created” a new norm of assertion. The claim was that Trump *exemplifies* that norm.Report

Adrian Kind
Adrian Kind
3 years ago

In the last month we had a couple of brutal antisemitic attacks in Germany. I’m so sorry that this one even lead to additional violence against someone who was already a victim of a crime. I hope this will reach the mainstream media in Germany soon and have consequences.Report

Dirk Bindmann
Dirk Bindmann
Reply to  Adrian Kind
3 years ago

This case has already reached the German mass media. For historical reasons, anti-Semitism is considered a scandal in Germany.

What is disturbing is that the anti-Semitic attacker has not been prosecuted, but has been admitted to a psychiatric clinic.Report

a_german
a_german
Reply to  Dirk Bindmann
3 years ago

This is not correct. As might be standard procedures in such cases, he has been examined by a doctor who found no reason to mandate a stay in a psychiatric clinic. It is true that the suspect was not jailed. But this does not mean that the attacker will not be prosecuted.Report

Daniel
Daniel
Reply to  a_german
3 years ago

I am unsure why, even if it is correct that the attacked has been admitted to a psychiatric clinic instead of being prosecuted, this should be characterized as “disturbing”, without knowing more about the attacker than is presented above.Report

Colin McGinn
Colin McGinn
3 years ago

Bertrand Russell: “I’ll believe anything against the police, with or without evidence”.Report

Acastos
Acastos
Reply to  Colin McGinn
3 years ago

You don’t see that this claim of Russell’s is just a version of the “new norm of assertion” you appear to deprecate above: “say whatever you think you can get away with with your base”?

Seriously?Report

M
M
Reply to  Acastos
3 years ago

You don’t see that Russell’s quip is just based on a pretty justified inductive generalization, obviously somewhat exaggerated for humour?Report

David a
David a
3 years ago

I think it is telling that the professor believes that being sympathetic to the the Palestinians would matter if he was wearing a yamalke. Good luck to that.. His relatives likely thought being upstanding German or Polish citizens would protect him against antisemitism…..thus as it ever was.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  David a
3 years ago

Well said.Report

Mark Alfano
Reply to  David a
3 years ago

I’m having a hard time understanding the implicature here.

Are you suggesting that “the Palestinians” are the moral equivalent of Nazis? All of them? Most of them? Including all the people currently living under apartheid in Palestine?Report

A Reader
A Reader
Reply to  Mark Alfano
3 years ago

I don’t think that is implied. Rather, I think the thought is that pointing out some positive characteristics that you have or behaving well is unlikely to protect you against people that wish to hurt you merely because of your race/religion/etc. I don’t see any generalization about Palestinians here.Report

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  A Reader
3 years ago

At the point that the fact of sympathy for Palestinians was mentioned, all that was clear about the other person was that he was Palestinian and asking if Melamed was Jewish. So to think at this point that there was no point in mentioning the sympathy would indeed be to think that any Palestinian who is asking whether another person is Jewish is a violent anti-semite with no possibility of productive communication.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Kenny Easwaran
3 years ago

Jews have a very specific and wrenching history with trying to stave off hatred and violence directed at us by protesting that we are “the good kind of Jew,” even to the point of converting out of our faith in order to make the point even stronger. It has never worked, and in the case of the Holocaust arguably made us even more vulnerable to the slaughter that befell us. This isn’t some abstract point about whether 100% of a population bears animus towards us. Nor is it some logic game having to do with possibilities concerning “productive communication.”Report

Dale Miller
Reply to  Kenny Easwaran
3 years ago

I’m not Jewish (or Palestinian). However, if a random stranger approached me on the street and sought to find out whether I was Jewish I’d take myself to have some reason to be worried about why he was asking. If i knew that he was Palestinian then this might make my reasons for being concerned more specific, but I’d be concerned even if I didn’t know that. So to the extent that a the Professor was engaged in generalizing, the most relevant class seems to be that of people who demand to know whether a random stranger is Jewish, not to Palestinians.

I’d be equally worried if a random stranger demanded to know if I was Palestinian (or Muslim).Report

dionissis mitropoulos
dionissis mitropoulos
Reply to  A Reader
3 years ago

Hi Reader, i accidentally responded to Prof Alfano while i intended to respond to your comment.Report

Feretin
Feretin
Reply to  A Reader
3 years ago

You don’t see any generalization about Palestinians… despite the fact that the post says ‘the Palestinians’ (in the plural)?Report

M
M
Reply to  Feretin
3 years ago

The occurrence of “the Palestinians” is embedded within a propositional attitude operator. When I say “Peter hoped that professing his love for all Christians would buy him some time”, I am not generalizing about Christians, even though I am using the phrase “all Christians”.Report

dionissis mitropoulos
dionissis mitropoulos
Reply to  Mark Alfano
3 years ago

Hi Reader

I understand that you ascribe to commenter David the thought that “some positive characteristics that you have or behaving well is unlikely to protect you against people that wish to hurt you merely because of your race/religion/etc.”.

But this immediately brings up the question: why has commenter David (who we assume for the sake of argument that he entertains the thought you attribute to him) thought that a Palestinian attacker would not be responsive to the revelation that the potential victim is actually sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinian people? Surely, a Palestinian anti-Semite is prima facie likely to have “contracted” anti-Semitism due to the behavior of Israel to the Palestinian people, and she might be amenable to aborting a hypothetical attack if she finds out that the potential victim is sympathetic to Palestinian suffering. I am not a philosopher, I just like analytic philosophy and philosophers, so (for fear of saying something silly) I’ll leave it to you to suggest which Gricean principle we are violating if we ascribe to commenter David only the coarse-grained thought that anti-Semites in general are not likely to change their behaviour in light of their potential victim’s positive characteristics. I think we make better sense of what commenter David said and implied if we ascribe to him the more fine-grained thought that even Palestinian anti-Semites are not likely to be responsive to a relevant positive characteristic of the potential victim (namely the potential victim’s sympathy for the Palestinian plight)—an utter falsehood, to my mind, but that’s irrelevant to our discussion.

If that’s the case, then I think prof Alfano’s conjecture about commenter David’s implicature is defensible –though I would opt for a less strong conjectured implicature, one that does not necessarily equate the Palestinians (generic) with Nazis, but, still, casts them in really bad light (and this is enough to make me share what seems to me to be prof Alfano’s mildly indignant incredulous stare at the comment of commenter David.

PS: I am trying to use technical terms because I enjoy trying to talk like an analytic philosopher, but please take my use of them with lots of grains of salt.Report

Mrmister
Mrmister
Reply to  David a
3 years ago

This comment strikes me as extremely unwarranted. There is nothing in the text indicating that Professor Melamed intended his expression of sympathy with the Palestinians as sympathetic ploy, as opposed to something he said because it was true (he does feel that way). Following up with the speculation about the deaths of his relatives in the holocaust: needless to say, they are real people and none of us knew them.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Mrmister
3 years ago

It’s perfectly warranted and “A Reader” above explained why.Report

Yitzhak Melamed
Yitzhak Melamed
Reply to  David a
3 years ago

Dear David,
I think the story is slightly more complicated than that. I find it foolish, not to say cruel, to deny that the Palestinians has many, justified, complains against their abuse by the Israeli occupation. Now, you might think that Palestinians (and Poles? or perhaps even ‘gentiles’ in general??) are antisemitic by their nature – I don’t.
And please, wash your tongue before you speak about my family.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Yitzhak Melamed
3 years ago

He denied nothing regarding the Palestinians and their plight in the occupied territories.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Yitzhak Melamed
3 years ago

As for the rest, it’s naive and historically ignorant. My mother ‘s family were completely assimilated into Hungarian society. Her father was a WWI veteran for the Austro-Hungarian empire. A good portion of the family converted to Christianity. Etc.

It made no difference to the Arrow Cross or to her neighbors. Most of the family perished in Auschwitz and the rest barely survived Bergen Belsen.

We’re the Hungarians “anti Semitic by nature?” In every meaningful sense other than the biological, “yes.” And the same goes for the Poles, which is why the way in which they currently are trying to deny all blame for what they did in the Holocaust is so revolting.

We can have another discussion another day about the Palestinians. My father was in the Haganah and fought in the War of
independence. I suspect you are working with a pretty lopsided narrative.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Yitzhak Melamed
3 years ago

One more thing (and it should have been the first thing I said). I am *terribly* sorry about what happened to you and hope that you will recover, both physically and psychologically from what was clearly an awful experience. I have been mugged twice at gunpoint, so I have some sense of what you must have gone through.

However, you seemed quite strong — even a bit ferocious — in your reply to David, so I thought you would be up for a little pushback. If I was in error, please accept my apologies.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Yitzhak Melamed
3 years ago

One more thing (and it should have been the first thing I said). I am *terribly* sorry about what happened to you and hope that you will recover, both physically and psychologically from what was clearly an awful experience. I have been mugged twice at gunpoint, so I have some sense of what you must have gone through.

However, you seemed quite strong — even a bit ferocious — in your reply to David, so I thought you would be up for a little pushback. If I was in error, please accept my apologies.Report

A grad student
A grad student
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
3 years ago

David spoke of Prof. Melamed’s relatives, who were murdered at the hands of Nazis, in a pretty insensitive manner. The reaction was totally warranted.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  A grad student
3 years ago

I didn’t say it was unwarranted.Report

A grad student
A grad student
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
3 years ago

You wrote, “However, you seemed quite strong — even a bit ferocious”. This was a criticism of Professor Melamed’s reaction. In this case, the criticism was that the reaction by Prof. Melamed was disproportionate. If a reaction is not proportionate to an offense, then I think it is safe to say that it is not warranted (or appropriate, or merited, or whatever).Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  A grad student
3 years ago

What he said also happens to be true, as I indicated in my remarks above. My own family did all they could to assimilate and to be “acceptable Jews” to their Hungarian, Polish, and Ukrainian hosts, and they were murdered all the same, which indicates the folly of the effort.

This is a very well-known and much-discussed aspect of the history of Jewish persecution. It is hardly some outrageous innovation on the part of David.Report

A grad student
A grad student
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
3 years ago

My criticism was of David’s tone, not the content of his claims, so this reply is irrelevant. YM told him to “wash your tongue before speaking of my family”. David, in his comment, mingled sarcasm into a comment that offhandedly referred to the professor’s dead relatives. To my mind, this makes YM’s reaction appropriate. You suggested otherwise, and it is on that point that I am debating you. That having been said, it’s really not my business to speak for YM, so I will not elaborate on this any further.Report

A grad student
A grad student
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
3 years ago

It was also not “ferocious”. Not by a longshot. A long string of expletives would qualify as “ferocious”. Stating one’s displeasure with another person’s rudeness, especially where it is appropriate, isn’t.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  A grad student
3 years ago

In your judgment. Not in mine.Report

A grad student
A grad student
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
3 years ago

This is the sort of my thing that one of my freshman ethics students would say. Obviously, and for the reasons I’ve stated, I think you have misjudged the situation. Stating that this is my judgment does nothing to refute what I said.Report

Mark Alfano
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
3 years ago

Daniel Kaufman, dude, you seriously need to get a hobby. And some perspective. And some charity in interpretation.

But maybe start with the hobby. It’ll be the easiest.Report

Jj
Jj
3 years ago

I am not surprised by the police action. It’s to a.large.extent a.consequence of the kind of psycholofical constitution that is required for or perhaps that is inclined to do police work (I mean the uniforms, not the detectives and so on). Part of the job is willingness to enagge in dangerous physical altercations and that willingness is not far from an inclination to violent behavior. It’s just employed (with frequent lapses) for the lawful rather than unlawful goals. When they act in a rush of adrenalin, this is not uncommon. The professor is right that it only resurfaced because he is a professor from a prestigious institution.Report

Colin McGinn
Colin McGinn
3 years ago

Russell was being humorous, parodying the behavior of too many police officers (not all!). His position was that the police are not always as truthful as one would expect or hope given their mission..Report

Jay Gordon
Jay Gordon
3 years ago

What makes you think the police didn’t know who the professor was? Remember, anything contrary to the official state-sponsored story of how mass-immigration has “culturally enriched” Germany is fiercely persecuted; or have we forgotten how “forthright” German authorities were about the events in Cologne on New Year’s eve in 2016.Report

M
M
Reply to  Jay Gordon
3 years ago

Could you clarify what you mean? Are you suggesting that the police knew who the professor was *before* they attacked him? If so, could you explain what their rationale would have been for doing so?Report

German philosopher
German philosopher
Reply to  Jay Gordon
3 years ago

I live in Germany. It simply is not the case that “anything contrary to the official state-sponsored story of how mass-immigration has “culturally enriched” Germany is fiercely persecuted”. To the contrary, the mainstream in public debate is that mass immigration led to problems, that immigration should be minimized, etc. It goes to the point where people are publicly endorsing the view that we should let people drown because that will keep others from trying to come to Europe. Your comment sounds like a comment of a rightwing populist who, contrary to what the reality looks like, still wants to identify as a victim of denied free speech.Report

Jay Gordon
Jay Gordon
Reply to  German philosopher
3 years ago

Here’s what “reality looks like”. A Jewish man wearing a yarmulke was assaulted by a Palestinian man on the streets of a major German city, indeed statistics show that anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise in Germany and in France where I live. It’s also fairly well covered by now, but German police and political authorities were, and I suspect still are, complicit in attempting to hide migrant crimes lest it reflect poorly on the government’s thoughtless approach to immigration. Allowing people into a nation without thought of how that nation might provide for their wellbeing whilst balancing the needs of its own citizenry.

So I’m unsure to which “reality” you subscribe, perhaps one of your own making. If we’re discussing objective fact, however, there is little doubt that what happened to the professor betrays something sinister in a political order that denies or suppresses reality and that by doing so you only empower those very “rightwing populists” you seem to claim you oppose.Report

Neil Levy
Neil Levy
Reply to  Jay Gordon
3 years ago

Anti-semitic incidents are not on the rise in Germany. In fact they fell slightly in 2017, though I would ignore that. The trend is pretty stable and has been throughout the century: between 1200 and 1800 incidents a year. More than 90% of perpetrators are right-wing extremists.Report

Ben
Ben
Reply to  Neil Levy
3 years ago

The claim that 90% of the perpetrators of anti-Semitic in Germany are right-wing extremists is extremely suspect, to say the least, and is contradicted by victim surveys.Report

Sergio Tenenbaum
Sergio Tenenbaum
Reply to  Ben
3 years ago

Ben, do you have a source for this claim? All the reports I’ve seen are in line with what Neil says. Here is one example: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/08/anti-semitic-crimes-increase-germany/Report

Ben
Ben
Reply to  Ben
3 years ago

It appears that many antisemitic incidents are misleadingly labeled “right-wing” in Germany. This is an illuminating article: https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Hezbollah-labeled-right-wing-extremism-as-anti-Semitism-in-Germany-rises-504597

Quote:

“According to the federal statistics, 92.8% of criminal acts had a right-wing extremist background. However, the government’s classification system has been called into question.

Benjamin Steinitz, the head of the RIAS group in Berlin that tracks antisemitism, told Die Welt paper on Friday there is a “discrepancy between the perception of antisemitic attacks, insults and taunts, and police statistics.”

The crime of “Jew-hatred” is classified in the category of “politically motivated right-wing extremist crime,” according to a 2017 federal report on antisemitism.”

So “jew-hatred” is by definition right-wing!Report

Sergio Tenenbaum
Sergio Tenenbaum
Reply to  Ben
3 years ago

Note that the Jerusalem Post only cites one such incident; it’s a case in which the crime in question was chanting Nazi slogans. I agree that one needs to explain why there’s a discrepancy between perception and the police statistics. The study you link cites your explanation as a possible explanation, but does not commit to its correctness and gives no significant evidence for it.Report

Jay Gordon
Jay Gordon
Reply to  Neil Levy
3 years ago

Friends, the statements above that anti-Semitic attacks are not on the rise in Europe are factually false; unless those notoriously “far-right” media outlets like NPR and Al-Jazeera have bamboozled us again:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/germanys-capital-sees-rise-anti-jewish-attacks-180419183230820.html

https://www.npr.org/2016/04/17/474569146/in-wake-of-increasing-anti-semitic-attacks-more-jews-flee-france

We do nothing but fuel the fire of extremism by validating their charges that we are dissembling and out of touch with reality.

As for Neil Levy’s claim that the perpetrators are “far-right extremists,” well golly, those “far-right extremists” are getting craftier by the day as they’ve apparently started recruiting Syrians migrants!:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44539145

I’m not making a political statement, I’m saying the outright denial of reality and the political forces all too happy to support it for power, are something we should be quite wary of. Indeed the truth is that the popular corporate media support of mass migration has as much, if not more to do with smashing labour unions and lowering standards of living than it does with putative “humanitarian” concerns…Report

dionissis mitropoulos
dionissis mitropoulos
Reply to  Jay Gordon
3 years ago

Hi Jay, you said:

“We do nothing but fuel the fire of extremism by validating their charges that we are dissembling and out of touch with reality.”

Jay could you clarify who’s “they” and who’s “we”?Report

Neil Levy
Neil Levy
Reply to  Jay Gordon
3 years ago

None of the articles Jay links to contains any data. I cited the official figures, which collect police reports (of course many incidents go unreported; it is likely to reflect trends in the more serious incidents). Jay is right that there is a perception that attacks are on the rise. But that’s what we expect, given media attention to them. If a refugee abuses a Jew, that is more likely to be reported than a skinhead abusing a Jew, and to get more prominent coverage. It works the other way too: if someone in a MAGA hat abuses a woman, that’s more likely to be reported than someone without such a hat. Perceptions of crime are very often way out of step with reality: in fact, crime is falling in most developed countries, but there’s a perception it is rising.Report

Neil Levy
Neil Levy
Reply to  Jay Gordon
3 years ago

Ben’s helpful link *repeats* – rather than refutes – the official data. The article from the Jerusalem Post cites “perceptions* as its evidence.Report

Ben
Ben
Reply to  Jay Gordon
3 years ago

The Jerusalem Post points out that antisemitic incidents are as a rule classified as “right-wing” by German police, even when committed by extremist muslims.

The victim survey I linked to makes clear that most perpetrators are perceived (by their victims) not to be right-wing extremists.Report

dionissis mitropoulos
dionissis mitropoulos
Reply to  Jay Gordon
3 years ago

Hello prof Levy, prof Tenenbaum, Ben.

It seems to me that whether anti-Semitic incidents in Germany are perpetrated mainly by the German varieties of the Alt Right or by Muslim extremists is only tangential to the real problem facing European Jews, which is how violent incidents (and threats of violence, whether explicit or implicit) can stop altogether. This is how prof Melamed succinctly put it yesterday, July 17:

https://www.jta.org/2018/07/17/news-opinion/world/this-jewish-professor-beaten-by-police-says-hell-keep-coming-back-to-germany

“There’s the question of the current situation in Germany, when people are afraid of going with the kippah,” he told JTA in a phone interview Tuesday. “I don’t understand how people are willing to tolerate that.
“I don’t have to play that game. Germany has an extra responsibility, and part of that extra responsibility is that Jews must be accepted exactly as they are, whether with a yarmulke or a shtreimel,” the fur hat worn by some Hasidic Jewish men.

I second his view and make the stronger claim that acceptance of Jews “exactly as they are” should be the case in any country, not just Germany. I don’t see this demand for the sake of Jews as “being part of” Germany’s extra responsibility for Jews, I see it as being part of/grounded in basic decency, and basic decency is obligatory for all countries, not just Germany – I think prof Melamed sees it that way too, and that his (under)statement really meant to say “all countries have this responsibility to eliminate the threat of anti-Semitic violence against their Jewish citizens/visitors, a fortiori Germany”.

One of my thoughts concerning ending the violence against European Jews is informed by a personal observation that has been corroborated by Jonathan Weisman, deputy Washington editor of The New York Times:

https://www.timesofisrael.com/jonathan-weisman-unpacks-americas-brewing-anti-semitism/

His observation, as the Times of Israel put it, is:
“American Jewish leaders are too obsessed with Israel”

And as he himself put it:

“the large mainline Jewish organizations are focused predominantly on Israel”

I do think that for so many Jewish organizations, Israel has become the dominant theme.”

Now he sees this fact as contributing to the rise of anti-Semitism in the US via what seems to my philosophically untrained eye to be a case of omissive causation: mainstream Jewish orgs allegedly didn’t pay enough attention to the rising anti-Semitism brought by the Alt Right, and the omission was due to the aforementioned extreme concern of Jewish orgs for Israel, a concern that, out of lenience to Israel-friendly Trump, allegedly turned the Jewish orgs blind to the anti-Semitic Alt Right flames Trump was fanning. Here is how he puts it:

“I think the American Jewish argument, the incessant argument over Israeli politics, is one reason why the alt-right snuck up on us and why suddenly there’s this wave of white nationalism that we think came out of nowhere.


There has been a tolerance of intolerance in Washington, because, “Hey! Donald Trump just moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem!…Israel has become a salve for all of the other things that otherwise might have grabbed our attention.”

I am agnostic as to the whether this particular causal pathway to anti-Semitism increase in the US does indeed obtain – sounds true but I have not even mildly researched it. But given the initial fact that the NYT editor pointed to, namely the preoccupation of mainstream organizations meant to support Jews with Israel, I can see various causal pathways to an increase in Muslim anti-Semitism. Here is one:

Increased concern for Israel meant increased activism for Israel, and increased activism for Israel bore the following fruit (among many others): the Palestinians are the only people on this Earth that have been denied by the West the moral right to resist the occupiers by attacking the occupying Army – the EU officially calls “terrorism” Palestinian attacks at Israeli soldiers. So does the US. Given the prominence of the Israel/Palestine conflict in Muslim consciousness, it was to be expected that this Western injustice to Palestinians, seen (veridically) as induced by pro-Israel Jewish orgs, would create resonant grievances in Muslim publics. Even major terrorist orgs have made reference to the unfair western use of the “terrorist” label, in an attempt to recruit. Terrorist orgs (the real ones) know better than we non-Muslims do what grievances resonate with non-violent Muslims.

A related point: instead of Peter Singer’s “Islamic terrorism”, I propose the label “retaliatory Islamic terrorism”.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/islamic-extremism-religious-motives-by-peter-singer-2015-03?barrier=accesspay

If being causally informative is a virtue of a label (as I understand prof Singer suggests), mine covers more elements from the causal mix (the complete one would be “retaliatory Islamist terrorism against western oppression”).

And a final point: I can’t see how the preoccupation of pro-Israel orgs with protecting Israel (which does not face any threat to its existence) will make it safer for Jews to walk in Germany dressed as they wish. It seems to me that it would be much better for the safety of European Jews if Jewish activism was stressing this demand for physical safety of European Jews rather than conflating this demand with demands for the safety of Israel, given that Israel does not face any existential threat anyway. Here is Chancellor Merkel happily conflating the two:

https://www.timesofisrael.com/syrian-convicted-of-berlin-assault-on-arab-israeli-wearing-kippa/

“Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced the emergence of “another form of anti-Semitism,” beyond that of right-wing extremist groups, from Muslim refugees.She reaffirmed that the security of Jews and the State of Israel was a central concern for Germany, given its “eternal responsibility” for the Holocaust, in which the Nazis murdered six million European Jews.” Report

dionissis mitropoulos
dionissis mitropoulos
Reply to  Jay Gordon
3 years ago

Hi Jay, you said:

“but German police and political authorities were, and I suspect still are, complicit in attempting to hide migrant crimes lest it reflect poorly on the government’s thoughtless approach to immigration.”

As far as anti-Semitic crime is concerned, Chancellor Merkel is certainly not “complicit in attempting to hide migrant crimes”, as far as i can judge from the following statement of hers:

https://www.timesofisrael.com/german-jews-call-for-crackdown-on-anti-semitism-including-among-muslims/

“Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking with Israeli television in April [2018], said she was “saddened” that her country has not been able to snuff out anti-Semitism for good, and that to this day, Jewish schools, kindergartens and synagogues require police protection.

“We have refugees now, for example, or people of Arab origin, who bring a different type of anti-Semitism into the country,” she said. “But unfortunately, anti-Semitism existed before this.”

Instead of accusing Chancellor Merkel of “hiding” immigrant anti-Semitic crime, i am more inclined to suggest to her that singling out Arab crime like that is empowering terrorist recruiting propaganda, one of whose themes i understand is the unfair double standard imposed by Western authorities upon Muslims in the West.

By the way, my understanding is that commenter German Philosopher’s statement that “the mainstream in public debate is that mass immigration led to problems, that immigration should be minimized, etc.” is true, and Philosopher Peter Singer seems to be corroborating it:

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/migration-moral-dilemma-europe-america-by-peter-singer-2018-07

“Last month [June 2018] , on the day before the Brussels meeting, Merkel spoke very differently, telling the German parliament that Europe faces many challenges, “but that of migration could become one that determines the fate of the European Union.”Report

German Philosopher
German Philosopher
Reply to  Jay Gordon
3 years ago

Jay Gordon, I was referring to your assertion that “anything contrary to the official state-sponsored story of how mass-immigration has “culturally enriched” Germany is fiercely persecuted”. The reality is that you are simply wrong on this one, this is what I wanted to point out. Maybe you have some evidence about anybody who was “fiercely persecuted” for voicing concern about immigration; I certainly do not have such evidence, and I doubt that you can come up with it. As dionissis mitropulous has pointed out, the contrary is the case: it is quite mainstream to oppose Merkel’s policy from 2015, even Angela Merkel opposes it. So please do not give the impression that there is some kind of mainstream against conservative positions in Germany. The contrary is the case.
Also, there is more coverage on anti-semitic assaults, there are discussions about a potential rise in anti-seimitism due to migrants from very conservative islamic countries, etc. Please do not make it appear as if the contrary were the case.Report

Greg
Greg
3 years ago

Just a small update: Yitzhak Melamed appeared on national German television news this evening (on ZDF), and talked about what has happened to him.Report