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Germany’s Most Annoying Jew

Satirist and media gadfly Henryk Broder attacks his countrymen’s attitudes toward Israel and Jews

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Henryk Broder in Berlin. (Timur Emek/AP)
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In Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s scandalous play (never performed publicly in Germany) The Garbage, the City, and Death, an anti-Semitic character moans, “And the Jew is guilty, because he makes us guilty—because he is there. … If they had gassed him, I’d sleep better today. They forgot to gas him. That’s no joke, that’s how the thinking goes inside me.” Fassbinder himself was no anti-Semite, Broder insists, but with his character’s phrase “so denkt es in mir,” he revealed the unconscious underpinning of Germany’s attitudes toward the Jews: It would be better if they had all perished. Broder’s most incendiary charge is that, though no German would admit this, they would be relieved if someone else would finish the job and so free Germany from its mark of Cain. “If Ahmadinejad were to attack Israel,” Broder proclaimed, “that would be for the Europeans a very happy event for two reasons: First, the second-to-last Holocaust would vanish in the mist of the last one; and second, they could make up for what they forgot to do between ’33 and ’45: they could express their solidarity with the Jews.” For Germans, Broder went on to say, the very existence of Israel is “a pain in the ass,” and, as Grass complained in his poem, they want submarines delivered!

Broder to the contrary, evidence suggests that what the Germans call Grossvatergeschichtedilemma (“grandfather-history-dilemma”) has faded. Nearly all of the Nazi grandfathers are dead; Germans in their twenties have no memory of the Berlin Wall, much less the Nazi era. The young Germans who throng to klezmer concerts and to celebrations of German Jewish history are of course motivated in part by guilt over the past; but so, one could argue, are white Americans who avidly appreciate African-American culture. Most Germans are relieved that Israel exists, rather than, as Broder argues, secretly wishing for its disappearance. Hundreds of thousands of Germans go to Israel each year; only the United States, Russia, France, and the United Kingdom send more tourists to the Jewish state (and they, unlike Germany, all have large Jewish populations). And young Israelis have flocked to Berlin, mostly because of its current reputation as the hippest city on the continent. As Tablet’s Adam Chandler remarked in a recent report from Berlin, German sympathy for Israel surfaces even on the left—for example, in the iconoclastic, wide-ranging magazine Konkret. During the Gaza war of 2012, the B.Z., the capital’s most popular newspaper (and a Springer publication), ran a cover with a picture of Hamas missiles overlaid on a map of Berlin: “What if Berlin were Israel?” the headline proclaimed, in a loud act of sympathy with the Israelis under Grad rocket fire. And then there is Angela Merkel, whose pro-Israel scorecard is impeccable. Germany and Israel are steadfast military allies and trading partners, and no one expects that to change, no matter the outcome of the next German or recent Israeli elections.

Broder’s epigraph for Forget Auschwitz! is a line from the essayist Eike Geisel: “In Germany, memory is the highest form of forgetting.” But Germans, these days at least, are no more prone to misuse the memory of the Shoah than anyone else is. Like the rest of us, Jews and non-Jews, Germans wrestle with the hardest questions: What are the lessons of the Holocaust, and what, if anything, does this greatest of all Jewish catastrophes have to do with our attitude toward the Israeli state and its policies? Broder, Germany’s vigorous gadfly, is a national treasure; as was the case with Hitchens, even the targets of his wrath often seem gratified by the attention. But whether Broder’s stinging attacks can guide us toward a better understanding of Israeli-German relations, which are always close and always a little uncomfortable—that’s another story.


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Great articles, but a bit of knowledge of people position would be great! You write: “German President Angela Merkel’s” that is totally incorrect she the head of the government and not the State.

Absolutely right, Camilo. Fixed.

Habbgun says:

Its always the same. It is easily proved the Left is no friend of the Jews but the Jews love the Left. Not all Jews, by far the majority could care less about the Left and its causes but enough Jews do for it to be pretty depressing.

I believe that it was the Portuguese writer and Nobel laureate José Saramago who popularized the idea that Jews/Israelis were Nazis:
“Saramago was part of an international group of writers who traveled to Ramallah to observe the Israeli siege of Yasser Arafat’s compound. [...] The situation at Ramallah, in Saramago’s estimation, was “a crime comparable to Auschwitz.” To the Israeli journalist who asked where the gas chambers were, Saramago gave his much-quoted reply, “Not yet here.”

He smeared the Bible, the Jews, the Israel etc.

Great piece.

fred capio says:

No one is right all the time, but Broder is right most of the time. And if he is wrong, why not let the Goyim criticize him? Why are so many Jewish journalists so eager to criticize fellow Jews? so that the anti-Semites can say: “look, even the Jews disagree with him”? It is nothing but hypocrisy masqueraded as objectivity.

Where do these “Jewish Jew haters” come from? Many Jews are “universalists” (which I suppose is left of center). However, these way, way, lefty Jews who hate Jews and Israel are really sick mentally. I dont even think its “self Hate” ..its just that they hate the Jewish womb that they came from. The crazy part is like Chomsky, and Finkelstein, and this drek of man Broder are considered “intellectuals”! Sad, they do as much harm to the Jewish people as the Czar, Hitler , and Ahmadjihad do! These fools contribute to the Pogrom mentality of Anti-Semites!

arktikwolf says:

Seems like the Germans will never forgive the Jews for the Shoah.

demonkoryu says:

You can lie down when you get hit, or you can hit back. Broder’s made his choice.

A catchy phrase, but that doesn’t make it actually meaningful.

Broder has since (ie., after the SWC backtracked) apologized for several of his comments on Augstein, in particular the Gestapo one and the comparison to Streicher (Die Welt, 11.01.13, “Das war nicht hilfreich. Ich entschuldige mich”), and called them “not helpful”.

He’s more or less viewed as grumpy old man nowadays, and people often tune out once his name comes up. For instance, his claim that Claudia Roth, chairwoman of the Greens, would have (after she visited Iran in 2010 and suggested a cultural exchange program) been delighted by Theresienstadt’s camp theater was rather received with incredulity.

In other words, many just don’t take him seriously anymore, so I wouldn’t really describe him as “Most Annoying”.

arktikwolf says:

You remind me of Wagner’s widow, who said: “It never happened; besides, it was only 2 million.”

Brian Zumhagen says:

Another problem. The association of Jewish communities is called the Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland, not the “Jüdisches Zentralrat,” as the article states.

Well, an affinity for random and silly generalizations is frequently accompanied by wanton imagination.

arktikwolf says:

I prefer miso to wanton, myself.

I’m not sure why you decided to link this piece of crap. Gilad Atzmon? He proves there’s economic gain for being an anti-Semitic Jew. And he doesn’t have to be particularly smart or insightful. He simply needs to say bad things about Jews and he gains fame and adulation.

Now, why you linked, I don’t know. Do you happen to agree with this worthless POS?

arktikwolf says:

My error, good sir. It was Winifred Wagner, widow of W’a son Siegfried.

oaklandj says:

The Left in Europe is very different from the Left in the US. Curious you have no interest in noticing any differences. Party above truth, right?

Steinman2 says:

Although Germany does not census its minorities unlike the US or Britain, most recent estimates place Jewish residents — including recent influx of Israelis — as high as a quarter of a million. So much about the part part in the article stating that Germany doesn’t have a significant Jewish population…

Habbgun says:

How so? And which would you categorize as better? Certainly so-called Progressivism is an American version of Euro politics.

berlinboy says:

you are wrong in all terms. and i see you did not understand his “apologize” on augstein.

Oh really. This is the ending of his article:

“I have also written about Jakob Augstein that he is ‘the little Streicher next door…, who merely due to late birth missed the chance to build a career in the Reichssicherheitshauptamt… [Gestapo]‘

That was totally amiss. ‘Not helpful’, is what the chancellor would say. Jakob Augstein is neither a small nor a big Streicher, he publishes not the ‘Stürmer’, but the ‘Freitag’, he is responsible for that which he does today, and not for that what he might or might not have done in a previous life.

A chicken coop is no KZ, the Muslims are not the Jews of today. I have always criticized such dramatizations by others. And now I have fallen into the same trap.

For that I apologize. And only for that.”

But please, go on with talking big.

Natan79 says:

That’s 0.3% of its population.


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Germany’s Most Annoying Jew

Satirist and media gadfly Henryk Broder attacks his countrymen’s attitudes toward Israel and Jews

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