The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign is facing opposition in Germany. Last month under pressure from the Israel lobby, a pro-BDS speech was cancelled in Bonn, and a June conference commemorating 50 years of occupation and featuring pro-BDS speakers lost its venue. Lillian Rosengarten, author of the memoir Survival and Conscience, was born in Frankfurt and escaped the Holocaust. She wrote this letter to Frankfurt’s mayor.
Dear Mayor Uwe Becker.
As a German Jew, I am ashamed.
Zionism has always equated any criticism with anti-Semitism, delegitimization or worse. It serves as propaganda to maintain the illusion of Jews as “victims.” Ultra Nationalists who believe in their moral superiority create political terror in order to silence and deny.
Who could imagine in 1945 following the defeat of Nazi Germany, there would be within a few short years a bizarre escalation, a toxic spread of anti-Semitism inflamed in part by a country with two faces. One face claims to be “the only Democracy in the Middle East” while the other face engages in an agenda embracing a genocidal occupation that spans across three generations of Palestinian children born in captivity. This is the face of Zionism with its dream of a Jewish State for Jews only, “Palestinians not allowed.” There is an alter ego where truth breaks through all forms of denial. A painful truth that many are still unable to accept as a viable reality. It is the agenda of Israeli Zionism that inflicts the horrors of disenfranchisement and genocide onto an entire population of Palestinians, unwanted, hated and considered “inferior.”
It is impossible for this German Jew to avoid a comparison between Israeli Zionists’ unwillingness to embrace the humanity of Palestinians as human beings like themselves with aspects of the Nazi quest for a racially-pure Germany.
Who would have imagined following the end of World War 2, how once again emotional manipulation akin to domestic terrorism, could successfully create a new culture of fear and hysteria strategically targeting Jews? What is tapped is deeply imbedded hysteria that lives dormant within Jewish consciousness. It is here where fears of annihilation and victimization wait once again to be ignited. Zionist intention is to gather Jews from around the world to support and live in the “Jewish State,” using this powerful message of indoctrination. We have heard it spoken: a Jewish state is the only place on earth where Jews can be safe and no longer victims.
I cannot be this Jew. As a refugee [from Nazi Germany], I identify with the homeless displaced Palestinians, refugees forced to flee from their land and homes to be occupied, destroyed and surrounded by prisons, walls, checkpoints armed soldiers and illegal settlements. Because Zionism in 1948 was founded on a racist ideology of the superiority of “chosen people,” I must raise some obvious questions.
Do Jews who have themselves been victimized, have the moral right to occupy and disenfranchise another people? Why have they learned nothing? More pressing for the moment, how could it happen that anti-Semitism is used to defend the Zionist agenda? There exists deep psychological implications to be explored, studied, written about and discussed openly in order to bring light to an unbearable moral abyss.
I believe to argue whether anti-Semitism exists or does not exists is a spurious issue lest we fall into a trap and lose our focus. The rise of anti-Semitism is real. We cannot to pretend there is no true anti-Semitism. It is spreading along with Islamophobia. Perhaps Zionism itself is anti-Semitic for it discriminates against Semites and includes Jews themselves. Zionism is not a religion but a political movement. Working for justice and the end of the occupation is not anti-Semitic.
I ask you Mayor Becker, to rethink your allegiance to Zionist Israel without also understanding the struggle of the Palestinian People to live in freedom and with dignity. Israel can only be free when Palestinians are free.
I will be in Frankfurt mid August and would love to meet you. Dialogue and listening to one another is important in a free society.
I want to hear from you.
Lillian Rosengarten (geb. Gisela Lebrecht)