At an international anti-Semitism conference in Berlin on Tuesday (15 March), Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier called for more engagement to combat anti-Jewish hostility. The conference was organised by the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) with support from the German Bundestag and the Federal Foreign Office.
We are here because we share the position that we will not accept anti-Semitism, hate-speech and threats in our societies and must instead take a stand against such things, actively and jointly.
That was part of Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s speech to around 100 members of parliament from 40 different countries at the anti-Semitism conference. Germany’s clear acknowledgement of its historical and moral responsibility for the Shoah translated, Steinmeier said, into “a very clear call to action”. “We are called upon to invest every possible effort in combating hatred and anti-Semitism in our societies,” he explained.
In the course of his speech, Steinmeier called it nothing less than a miracle, given Germany’s history, that Jewish life was once again flourishing in Germany and Europe. As evidence of that revival, he cited the opening of synagogues as well as Jewish schools and nurseries not only in Berlin but in many other parts of the country too. He also mentioned the first cohort of rabbis to have been trained in Germany in the new era. He was happy to report that Berlin and Germany had become a real magnet for many young Jews.
No place for anti-Semitism in Germany
However, Steinmeier’s speech also touched on a study in which experts found that around one in five Germans harboured latent anti-Semitic attitudes. In that context, he made it clear that there was no place for anti-Semitism “in our concept of a free, democratic and tolerant Germany”. Steinmeier appealed to his listeners not to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear when people spout xenophobia and anti-Semitic slogans, issue threats or carry out violent attacks.
One important subject for the Foreign Minister was the integration of immigrants in Germany. His message to them was that “taking a truly heartfelt stand against anti-Semitism is part of finding your place at the heart of German society”. As he explained, “anti-Semitism goes against our constitution, against our civilisation, and flies in the face of everything we believe in and everything we’ve learned.”
Steinmeier also pledged that the German Government intended to push for concrete steps to combat anti-Semitism as part of Germany’s Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE) this year. He said the particular focus was on improving security for Jewish facilities in the OSCE area, conducting effective information campaigns to combat anti-Semitism and boosting dialogue as well as active involvement at the level of civil society.