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Speech by Dr. Heike Fuller, German Consul General in Atlanta at #ShowUpforShabbat

10/30/2019 09:42:38 AM


Consul General Dr. Heike Fuller

Ladies and Gentlemen,
“Antisemitism kills”, that is what Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Halle, Saxony-Anhalt two cities over 4.100 miles apart, located on two different continents are forced to share.

On October 27, 2018 while Shabbat morning services were being held in the Tree of Life Synagogue, eleven people were killed and six were injured. It was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States.

Not even a year later, on October 9 on the holiest of holy days, Yom Kippur, a horrible attack on the Synagogue in Halle/Germany struck another Jewish community. In this anti-semitic attack, two people were killed and two people were injured outside of the synagogue after the perpetrator failed to gain entry to the synagogue. The perpetrator who attacked the synagogue in Halle and the perpetrator who attacked the one in Pittsburgh are linked by a far right ideology that is back to kill human beings, Jews and others.

Seventy-four years since the end of World War II, it is not enough to say “never again”, because, unfortunately, it already happened again.

It is not enough to be shocked and to be appalled by the death of Jews and others caused by far right and antisemitic crimes.

It is not enough to pray for the victims and their families and to express our sympathy to the families and friends of those who were killed and to send our best wishes for recovery to those who were injured by far right extremists and anti-semites.

We all have to act jointly and we all can do together much more than that! If we do not stand together, speak out with one voice and resolutely fight antisemitism, xenophobia and far right extremism, but just keep quiet and turn a blind eye on alarming developments, at the end we will not be able to live in a democracy and state of law anymore.

For the German government, the terrible attack against the Jewish community in Halle at the holiest of holy days, Yom Kippur, is also an attack on Germany. “The attack on the synagogue in Halle is a disgrace for our country” as the German Federal Minister of Interior stated. Germany
embraces its special historical and moral responsibility to do everything within its power to guarantee the safety of Jews in Germany and to publicly demonstrate that Jews are indeed safe in Germany.

The additional security measures including upgraded building code requirements to improve protection of Jewish institutions in Germany were already agreed upon by the federal and state interior ministers in the days after the attack in Halle, and the implementation process of these new agreed upon measures is underway now.

That is a necessary step to be taken, no question! As you all are very well aware of, there is never and nowhere 100% secure. A residual risk for everybody’s safety usually remains. And security achieved only by special security forces and special security measures will not remain of a lasting nature.

Against the background of a significant rise of far-right extremism and antisemitism not only in Germany, but also here, is equally important if not even more important to fight “hate” and “hate speech”. The federal and state interior ministers have already agreed upon certain additional measures in that respect. The challenges we face in this area are huge and cannot be overcome immediately nor can my country alone shoulder these efforts.

A joint effort is necessary to raise awareness that hate and hate speech will eventually cause hate crimes. The horrible attacks on synagogues in the US, in Germany and elsewhere have proven that. They are also proof that antisemitism is the door opener for any form of discrimination and group-referenced misanthropy. Antisemitism and xenophobia constitute an attack on the fundamental values of democracy. They are serious threats for our pluralistic societies.

And that threat is very real! “One in four German’s hold anti-semitic beliefs”, such was the headline on the title page of the German “Süddeutsche Zeitung” only yesterday. The article refers to the results of a study conducted by the Jewish World Congress in more than 100 countries worldwide two and a half months ago, that means before the Halle attack. 1300 Germans participated in this study. More than a quarter of those surveyed said they agreed with antisemitic statements, including that “Jews have too much power over the economy”. Over 40% said they thought Jews “talk about the Holocaust too much”.

Today, within the context of the findings of this study, the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, had a remarkable openly critical article about the situation of Jews in Germany in the German newspaper “Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”. And to my opinion, it is good that he found critical words. This is what I mentioned earlier. Speak out against alarming developments and force governments
and the silent majority of the population to stand up and to take appropriate action. I am ashamed to be confronted with the findings of that study. Regardless what higher percentages of antisemitism were found in other countries according to this study, at least in my opinion, Ronald Lauder is right to point out that Germany has 6 Million reasons to act extremely sensitive being confronted with Neo-Nazi movements and hatred of Jews within the left political spectrum.

Nevertheless, despite the findings of this study, the German government and the majority of Germans are very grateful that the majority of Jews in Germany want to live and want to stay there. And fortunately, for Germany, the number of Jewish immigrants is by far higher than the number of Jewish emigrants. 

My government wants to strengthen European cooperation to fight antisemitism during the German EU presidency next year. Together we are stronger to fight this hatred. Red lines are crossed if the Holocaust is publicly denied, grossly trivialized or falsified. We will resolutely oppose these developments. Fighting such developments will be in Germany’s focus when it assumes the presidency of the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance starting on March 2020.

Be assured, Jewish life belongs in Germany, it is an inseparable part of our diverse society.

Whenever you think that in my capacity as German Consul General I could be of support or have any other urgent constructive ideas on how we can together stop antisemitism and xenophobia, please contact me. My door is always open should you wish to see me.

Thank you very much.

Thu, August 13 2020 23 Av 5780