The Frankfurt professor Susanne Schröter is head of the Research Centre Global Islam. She accuses politicians of ignoring anti-Semitism in Muslim communities for years. In an interview with FOCUS Online, she explains, among other things, why the crime statistics for anti-Semitic offences are wrong.
FOCUS Online: Professor Schröter, against the backdrop of the Middle East conflict, riots and attacks on synagogues are on the rise in this country, what are we currently experiencing as a result of the protests ?
Susanne Schröter: Muslim anti-Semitism is manifesting itself here, which has always been ignored by the German public. Violence and incitement against Jews is not only rampant in the extreme right, but anti-Semitism is also growing in Muslim communities. But this is swept under the carpet.
In recent years, there have been repeated attacks by Muslims on Jews in the underground trains, or on Jewish children in schools. For fear of attacks, some Jews now refrain from wearing religious clothing in public. Unlike right-wing extremism, this dangerous development has never really been taken seriously.
What is behind this ?
Schröter: Some circles in culture and politics see Muslims as a victim group. This is what the term Islamophobia or anti-Muslim racism stands for. Ergo, victims cannot be perpetrators. Unfortunately, this mindset is also fuelled by scholars who come from postcolonial theory. These researchers explicitly emphasise that Muslims cannot be perpetrators because they are victims. This is an unrealistic view of things.
Why didn’t politics take up this anti-Semitism phenomenon earlier ?
Schröter: For many politicians and church representatives in particular, the topic is too hot. They always use the killer argument that a public discourse would only serve the AfD’s interests. And so the problem is no longer even discussed. But now we have the problem that there is extreme hostility towards Jews among Muslims. This is not so much criticism of the Israeli government’s measures, but rather an anti-Semitic mixture of politics and religion. This is not a new phenomenon.
When the Middle East conflict boiled up in 2014, young demonstrators on German streets threatened that the army of the Prophet Mohammed would return and destroy the Jews. With such slogans, reference is made to Islamic intellectual history. In some of Muhammad’s Koran verses and hadiths, there are passages that place Jews and Muslims in an absolute relationship of enmity. Immigration from the Arab civil war countries has further exacerbated this anti-Semitic attitude in this country. If politicians do not deal with the problem, it will continue to escalate until it gets out of hand.
However, the police statistics contradict their analysis, according to which almost 94 per cent of anti-Semitic crimes are the work of right-wing extremists.
Schröter: These statistics present a distorted image. The fact that the police attribute anti-Semitic crimes primarily to right-wing extremist circles is simply misleading. All cases where no perpetrator can be found are automatically attributed to right-wing extremism. This happens in about half of the registered anti-Jewish offences. This is the reason for the blatant overhang towards the right-wing. However, this statistic clearly contradicts the interviews with Jewish victims. I believe that the law enforcement agencies are pretty much in the dark here. But they do not take note of this.
What is in store for us?
Schröter: A few statements of consternation on the part of politicians will not be enough to make this anti-Semitic trend disappear. The riots and attacks on Jewish institutions will pop up again and again. Especially since Islamic organisations are also fuelling the hatred of Jews.
Which organisations are you referring to?
Schröter: For example, the state-controlled Turkish religious authority Diyanet and the umbrella organisation of Turkish-Islamic religious associations in Germany DITIB. On their Turkish home pages, there is currently a large-scale propaganda against Israel and the Jews. Suddenly you feel like you’re in a holy war.
How widespread is anti-Semitism in the left camp ?
Schröter: There has been latent anti-Semitism in the left spectrum for decades. This goes back to the terrorist group RAF in the 1970s and other radical left movements that allied themselves with militant Palestinian groups. In the case of assassinations or hostage-taking, Jewish victims were sometimes specifically singled out.
Ok, that was once, what is the current situation ?
Schröter: I would distinguish between two groups of activists who position themselves against Israel. One group consists of ideological hardliners who basically glorify Palestinian organisations as a “liberation movement” and deny Israel the right to exist. They themselves show solidarity with Islamofascist groups such as Hamas. These actors can be found above all in the BDS movement, which demonises Israel and its citizens and calls for a boycott. They are convinced left-wing anti-Semites.
A second group is driven by taking the side of the supposedly weak. These are often young people who act primarily emotionally but have only a rudimentary knowledge of the Middle East conflict, which is not exactly easy to understand. Perhaps a better education would save them from some naïve partisanship. If they knew that Hamas, in its charter, not only seeks the annihilation of the state of Israel, but also the annihilation of all Jews, some people might start to think.