„If we allow people to be removed from public discourse by force, and although I may loathe their statements, believe me, Gerd, we Jews will be the next ones to go.“
Those were the words of my host father, Jim Davidson, a successful lawyer in the United States of America. I owe him. My conversations with him impressed me. His warning impressed me.
Yesterday (Jan. 12, 2017), a riot began at an event with the political party, AfD (Alternative for Germany) at the Otto von Guericke-University in Magdeburg, Germany. According to MDR (Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, a state financed TV station), violence erupted and a fire cracker was thrown at the lecturer. The organizers had to flee the stage and then leave the university under police protection.
Violence thus prevented public discourse at a German university. This is shocking and frightening. The AfD, as a political party, is not forbidden! No court of law has presented anything that justifies banning the party. It’s all the worse that a university, a place of open-mindedness, where the intellectual elite resides, where freedom of thought is exercised, where clever minds debate, where gifted academics research and analyze, a place where there is no reason to banish thought because enlightened people have the courage to stand their own mind. If not at a university where else can people engage with the AfD and criticize their politics and ideology?
Should the writings of Martin Luther and the Koran be banned? What those offer is much worse than anything the AfD proposes.
I took gender study courses at the University of Cologne; I am active in the LGBT community, I am a journalist for the newspaper Jüdische Rundschau (Jewish Chronicle) and, together with two female colleagues, I am involved in feminist theater. If there is anyone who questions the AfD, with its sometimes sexist, racist and anti-Jewish rhetoric then it would certainly be me. But that does not justify violence and the disregard of the law. The rules of law are the security of minorities such as the Jews. Michelle Obama once said:
„If they go low, we go high!“
I will not make my morality and my concept of justice dependent on the AfD! How should I know that those who denounce the AfD’s right to participate in public discourse may not ban me in the future because they think I represent a danger? I don’t know! But, I know my host father was right. Jews are always the next ones, if not the first ones. On October 27, 2016, Jews were removed from a London university because the police could no longer guarantee for their safety. When the police arrived at the scene, they witnessed a terrible scenario of Jew hatred.
The approximately 25 students attending the lecture had to lock themselves together with their lecturer Hen Mazzig in a small room while a violent mob was forming outside. A student described the situation as follows:
„There was a lot of shouting and banging on the door. We were all afraid, but we were trying to concentrate on the lecture. It was insane. Despite the door banging, Hen continued to speak of peace. That was really very nice, because we were united and sang a song of hope despite the noise from outside.“
The lecturer, Hen Mazzig, who was invited as a humanitarian affairs commissioner, later said, „I was surprised that they targeted my message of peace and coexistence. It was really hard to talk above all the noise.“
When some of the mob managed to pry open a window, the police knew that violence impended. However, the 20 police officers weren’t enough to control the Jew-hating mob. Instead, the ones being attacked were removed from the university grounds. Hen Mazzig was forced to leave the university with his students through a narrow corridor of hate-filled people who shouted at them: „Shame on you!“
I can well imagine why Hen Mazzig was targeted. He is Jewish, Israeli and gay. These are three characteristics that both Hamas and Fatah hate! The leaders of the Palestinian movement make no secret of the fact that „Free, Free Palestine“ is a slogan to murder Jews, destroy Israel and execute homosexuals. This kind of hate erupts frequently. A few years ago, musicians were shouted down at the Royal Albert Hall in London because they were Israelis:
Israelis are shouted down and driven from lecture halls:
Concerts are disrupted because the musicians are Israeli:
Artists such as Lars Vilks are attacked with shouts of „Allahu Akbar“ in lecture halls:
For Jews and Israelis, universities, concert halls and lecture rooms in Europe and America have now become war zones. They are even removed by the police because they can’t guarantee their safety.
I know the motivation of the troublemakers. I was myself a student who was once involved in the disturbance of a lecture, because I thought the philosopher, who was the subject of the seminar – his name is Peter Singer – was a fascist, to whom no platform should be offered. Today, I feel ashamed of my participation. It was people like my wife, Daniel Raboldt and Alice Schwarzer, who took me aside and, in their criticism of my behavior, reminded me of the words of my host father. I thank them.
It was self-pride and arrogance that drove me to dictate to others what they were allowed to hear. I shouted: “Beware the beginnings!“ Today, I realize the beginnings I meant were nothing but the beginnings of a future that I construed. I took other people hostage on account of my own fears. This, however, is the root of totalitarian thinking which allows for force over thought.
All that causes more fear than a AfD seminar at the University of Magdeburg, because it were students who burned books in Berlin in 1933 and in Wartburg in 1817. They considered themselves morally superior!
It’s characteristic of those aggressors to shout down Jews and Israelis, and denounce them as Nazis! For them, the term Nazi is merely an insult which they always scream when they want to silence an opponent. They don’t care about the fact that they trivialize true Nazism, offend Jews and ultimately question the Holocaust. They feel morally superior. Every one is a Nazi except themselves!
However, courts of law decide whether a person is a Nazi, and thus a constitutional enemy or a criminal who is to be prosecuted. That’s why we have courts of law which protect minorities. Mob rule doesn’t serve justice. Whoever screams the loudest isn’t necessarily right. Shouting is violence, at least in academia!
Even if one is disgusted by another person’s ideas, then where, if not at a university, can one have the opportunity to meet and confront his opponents? Know your enemy. Study him!