The commemorations of the Holocaust this week by world leaders left many of their Jewish observors in a state of cognitive dissonance. German Foreign Minister Joscha Fischer provided a notworthy contribution to this confusion last Monday at the UN General Assembly's special session marking the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz death camp when he said that Israel could "always rely" on German support "because the security of its citizens will forever remain a non-negotiable fixture of German foreign policy."
The problem with Fischer's statement is that it seems to bear no relations to the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of his countrymen. In a poll released in the days ahead of this week's Holocaust commemorations by the German University of Bielfeld, 62 percent of Germans said they were "sick of all the harping on about German crimes against the Jews." More than two thirds of Germans said they believe Israel is waging "a war of extermination" against the Palestinians.
Jewish organizations often focus their attention on Holocaust sentiment among non-Jews to gauge anti-Semitic feelings. But while feelings about the Holocaust serve as an indicator of general sentiment about Jews, there are other indicators no less important or revealing. Sensitivity about the Holocaust may tell us what a person feels about Jews, but it may also simply tell us what that person feels about dead Jews.
In the German case, the poll results are rather straightforward. The indicators line up. By crassly rejecting the need to recall the Holocaust while believing that Israel -- in waging a war against Palestinian terrorists whose declared aim is the physical destruction of the Jewish state -- is the modern day incarnation of Nazi Germany, Fischer's countrymen are clearly saying that they hate both dead and live Jews.
But let's say that the poll results had been different. What if most Germans had said that they believe the Holocaust was a terrible crime that must be taught and remembered forever by the German people at the same time that over two thirds still claimed that Israel is acting like the Nazis. Would such a distinction mean that the two thirds of Germans that view Israel as a Nazi state make them less anti-Semitic? No, it would not.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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