This editorial originally appeared in Jüdische Allgemeine on 9 December 2021.
With every new government, a new era dawns. With regard to Germany, the Jewish world is always sensitive and vigilant, especially because Angela Merkel’s time in government was a good and reliable time, but every new era must also confront new or unsolved problems.
Iran is one of the problems that the new government will have to deal with from day one. For Israel, it is literally a matter of existence, because Iran challenges Israel’s very right to exist. As the largest EU country, Germany must take more leadership, including within the EU institutions in Brussels, and establish a tough and strict policy toward the fanatics in Tehran. The ability to do so will be the practical test of how much Germany’s solidarity with Israel actually determines its political actions.
United Nation bodies
At the same time, the ever-increasing systematic delegitimization of the Jewish state must be stopped, for this is not only the breeding ground for terror within Israel itself, but also for hatred in social media worldwide and physical attacks on Jews - including in Germany. To be clear, we expect Germany to abandon its sometimes indecisive tactics in UN bodies and to take a clear stand if Israel is once again unjustly pilloried in the future.
Angela Merkel has done a great job. She has been a determined fighter against antisemitism and a friend of the Jewish community.
Still, some unfinished tasks remain. For example, more than 23 years after the Washington Declaration on looted art, Germany still does not have a modern restitution law. Almost 80 years after the Shoah, people continue to play for time, the descendants of the victims are forced to participate in undignified proceedings and responsibility is shifted far away to various institutions.
In the fight against antisemitism, much has happened in recent years on the political level. Nevertheless, implementation by the administration and the judiciary has been slow, and this is doubly alarming in view of the fact that the corona pandemic has given all kinds of crazy conspiracy myths a great boost. Thus, greater and more consistent pressure must be put on the agitators.
We do not live in easy times. That makes political leadership and a clear direction all the more important now. I wish the new head of government all the best in this. Mazel tov, Chancellor Scholz! The Jewish world looks forward to working closely with your government!