LISTEN: Germany in denial of its deep-rooted anti-Semitism, says AJC Berlin head
People of the Pod

LISTEN: Germany in denial of its deep-rooted anti-Semitism, says AJC Berlin head

Episode #6: Post-Halle shooting, Remko Leemhuis pushes for security in Jewish communities * ToI’s Raphael Ahren on Israel-Gulf relations * David Makovsky talks Israeli leadership

This week, AJC Berlin Acting Director Remko Leemhuis briefs People of the Pod on the horrific anti-Semitic attack on Yom Kippur targeting a synagogue in Halle, Germany.

In our weekly podcast, produced in partnership between the American Jewish Committee and The Times of Israel, we take you beyond the headlines and analyze global affairs through a Jewish lens. The podcast examines political events, the people driving them, and what it all means for the Jewish people and Israel.

Speaking about shooting suspect 27-year-old German Stephan Balliet, Leemhuis said the alleged neo-Nazi was of course a racist and hates Muslims. But his focus was on the city’s Jewish community.

“He immediately starts out the video denying the Holocaust… his main target and main goal was to kill Jews in that synagogue,” said Leemhuis. “He was ideologically driven by his hatred of Jews and Jews were his main target. We really need to stress that.”

The Halle shooting is not happening in a vacuum. In Berlin this past Shabbat, a Syrian refugee attempted to bring a knife into a synagogue, but there wasn’t widespread condemnation.

“It’s very sad that people have to die before others come out and show solidarity with the Jewish people,” said Leemhuis.

Leemhuis explained that anti-Semitism in Germany is “coming from all corners of society” and spans the political spectrum. He and others in Jewish leadership roles are pushing for police protection, not only in the bigger cities, but also smaller Jewish communities such as Halle.

Then, we hear from Raphael Ahren, Diplomatic Correspondent for the Times of Israel, who breaks down Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz’s efforts to advance non-aggression treaties with several Arab countries in the Gulf.

Ahren discusses what is standing in the way of full diplomatic relations between Gulf countries and Israel, and what is being done in the meantime.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz and his Bahraini counterpart Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa (R) pose for a photograph at the State Department in Washington on July 17, 2019. (Courtesy)

Iranian aggression is increasing every day, said Ahren, but the correspondent raises the idea that Katz’s efforts may have much less to do with a collective fear of an attack on Israel, and a lot to do with the Foreign Minister’s political standing.

“Israel Katz obviously has good intentions and he has made it his goal to advance Israel-Gulf normalization as much as he can,” said Ahren. But not a single Arab state has responded to an Israeli television report about the increased relations between Israel and Gulf States.

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“The fact that the Foreign Ministry drew up a draft agreement is a good thing and I hope the Arab states are reading and considering it. We can only hope for this to gain traction although I honestly don’t see it happening, at least not in the foreseeable future,” said Ahren.

Finally, we sit down with David Makovsky, Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute, to discuss his new book, “Be Strong and of Good Courage,” co-authored with Ambassador Dennis Ross, which profiles the leadership of four Israeli prime ministers and the courageous decisions they took in pursuit of a safe and flourishing Jewish state.

Using declassified information and cables, the authors focus on David Ben Gurion, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon.

United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim calls on former Israeli Premier Golda Meir at her home in Jerusalem, June 5, 1974. (AP Photo/Max Nash)

Makovsky said he is often asked why Israel’s lone female prime minister was not included in the quartet. He qualified that were the authors to do another book about Israel’s relationship with the Diaspora, they would do a “Golda chapter, because she played a very key role” in this forum.

For more on the new book, see Haviv Rettig Gur’s in-depth interview and review here.

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With contributions from TOI Staff and Haviv Rettig Gur.

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