A letter to the German left - Laurie Penny
Cette lettre de la féministe et marxiste britannique Laurie Penny prend de l’importance depuis l’entartement par des activistes du mouvement anti-allemand (Antideutsche) de la politicienne de gauche Sarah Wagenknecht. Les Antideutsche sont une petite secte radicale qui s’active surtout au sein des organisations de jeunesse des verts et dans les milieux politiques autonomes. Ils défendent des positions pro-Israel et pro-USA et traitent d’antisemite chaque personne qui ose critiquer la politique de ces états. En revendiquant de faire partie de la gauche il créent beaucoup de confusion parmi les jeunes gens de gauche qui sont tous des ennemis fervents de l’antisemitisme. Un regard plus précis y découvre des bribes de l’idéologie néolibérale et de la théorie du totalitarisme.
Ce tracte distribué par les Antideutsche identifie Sarah Wagenknecht et l’extrémiste de droite Beatrix von Storch comme représentantes de la même politique xénophobe.
A letter to the German left:
Tonight, with days to go before I was due to get on a plane to give a series of fiction readings in Germany, my publisher contacted me to let me know that certain people on the German left were calling me Anti-Semitic. This is because I support people’s right to boycott Israeli products and services as a protest against the ongoing occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. It is, I would say, an unnerving experience for a foreigner of Jewish descent like myself to open up Twitter and find German people comparing you to Hitler.
At first, I was deeply offended, angry and upset. But rather than start flinging more accusations around, I think it would be useful to explain my position and ask what it is in our respective histories that brought us to this topsy-turvy place.
I am not German. I still speak very little of the language, and for that I can only apologise and say: ich versuche zu lernen. But I have come to understand that the German left is unique in Europe for its pro-Zionist stance, for its insistence on supporting the military actions of the Israeli state no matter what. And I can understand why.
German is a country haunted by its own history, and part of that history involves the mass murder of millions of Jews. That is both an unavoidable fact and a terrible legacy for succeeding generations to grapple with. Moreover, the resurgent far-right in Germany remains, as I understand it, violently anti-Israel (this is not the case in the UK - in fact, the now-disbanded fascist English Defence League carried Israeli flags as recently as 2011). So while I do not share the German left’s position on Zionism, I utterly support their right to hold that position.
I can see how Germans of good conscience would feel deep discomfort at refusing to eat an Israeli avocado, whatever the arguments about Israel and Judaism not being the same thing. There is simply too much history, too recent and too bloody, for that to be a neutral choice to make. If I were German, I would certainly feel the same.
I have always admired the capacity of the German people to interrogate their own history. It is certainly a welcome break from Britain, where schoolchildren are still taught to think uncritically about our imperial past. And sometimes I wonder if this is is not why Germany is today such a progressive cultural powerhouse - because Germans are not nostalgic for a lost golden age, they believe more in the future than they do in the past. Despite the rise of right-wing groups like AfD, that remains my overwhelming impression of Germany as a visitor.
I admire the young German left for the rigour of their self-scrutiny, their determination to break with history and make amends as they see fit. But here’s the important bit. Not everyone has the same cultural history - and it is offensive at best and actively culturally imperialist at worst to suggest that we all behave as if we do.
I deeply resent the implication that simply because my books are published in Germany I should be required to behave as if my ancestors might have been implicated in anti-Semitic genocide. In fact, my ancestors were the victims of anti-Semitic genocide several times over. That’s a history that affects my own politics and my own life choices just as much as yours affects you.
It means something very different for a British Jew to support a peaceful boycott of Israeli goods than it does for a German of Christian descent to support the same boycott. I understand that, so I’d like you to try to understand that when Israel carries out military assaults on the open prison of Gaza in the name of Jewish people worldwide, and of our families who fled oppression, that gives me an extra reason to oppose those attacks.
It would be ridiculous to claim that the wider European left is never anti-Semitic. As a half-Jewish person with a non-Jewish name, I have occasionally been invited into the conversations British leftists have about Jews when they think Jews aren’t listening. There are certainly those within the pro-Palestine movement who use anti-Semitic language, and there are also anti-Semites and racists with no love for the Palestinian people who have co-opted strategies like BDS for their own ends.
The language of anti-Semitism has become more acceptable in recent years as Europe and America drift inexorably to the right. For years now I have been harassed by racists online - even my Wikipedia page is regularly vandalised by Anti-Semites. And last week I had my first experience of Anti-Semitic bullying on public transport in London. In fact, racism and xenophobia of all kinds are becoming mainstream as the migration crisis tears up the map of European political assumptions - so right now it is more vital than it it has been for decades for all progressives and anti-racists to stand together.
I remain proud of my Jewish ancestry, and I will continue to stand against Anti-Semitism. It is possible to do so whilst thinking critically about the military actions of the Israeli state and pushing for ceasefire, as many Jews and Israelis are doing all all over the world today. I don’t condemn those on the German left who hold the opposite opinion, as long as they show the rest of us the same understanding. History places different demands on us all, which is just one more reason for approaching each other, at this difficult time for the global left, with compassion and tolerance, rather than condemnation.
My politics are international, intersectional, feminist, anti-racist and anti-capitalist. The more I learn about the world, the more I understand about how the history of violence informs our present politics, whoever we are. I believe the German left has every right to interrogate its current and past attitude to the Jewish people. But it is not the job of the German left to tell Jews around the world what political opinions they should hold - and it never will be.
Traduction allemande de la lettre de Laurie Penny
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Lassen Sie mich mit einem Verweis auf zwei Autoren antworten, die die sogenannten „intellektuellen Prämissen“ dieser Antideutschen bereits vor Jahren seziert und widerlegt haben. Michael Sommer und Susann Witt-Stahl schreiben:
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