12 December 2003
BERLIN – The German parliament has passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in a debate which had followed the party suspension last month of a deputy who had spoken of Jewish guilt.
Members of all parties backed the resolution which said there was “no place in Germany” for anti-Semitic thought.
The resolution said parliament observed “with great concern that anti-Semitic resentment is noticeable not only among fringe groups but also far inside society”.
Parliament is to support a European conference against anti- Semitism in Berlin next year.
The debate had been called following the uproar over a speech on German Unity Day in October by backbench MP Martin Hohmann, 55, who has since been suspended from the centre-right Christian Democratic Party (CDU).
Hohmann had denied anti-Semitism, but refused to apologize for what most commentators called an offensive speech comparing the history of Jews and Germans in the 20th century. He was not present in parliament for the debate.
Parliamentary speaker Wolfgang Thierse said some 60 years after the Holocaust there was still open and hidden anti-Semitism in Germany.
The fact that Hohmann’s speech did not provoke immediate protests showed that “a reservoir of latent anti-Semitism” remained, he said.
Thierse said the claim that Germany was being taken advantage of because of the genocide against the Jews was one of the worst anti- Semitic cliches.
He also warned against “a certain manner” of criticism against Israel’s political policies and of playing down rightwing extremist activity.
Deputy speaker Norbert Lammert of the CDU said Germany’s past gave it a special responsibility to act against every form of anti- Semitism.
The unanimous rejection of anti-Semitism across the political spectrum was the difference between the Germany of the past and the Germany of today, he said.
The debate was welcomed by the Jewish community in Germany. Salomon Korn, deputy president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said it was “marked by seriousness and responsibility”.
However, although most speakers accurately described the present situation they offered nothing substantial on how to combat anti- Semitism, he said.
Korn said he was also disappointed at the number of empty seats in parliament. “The opportunity to send a signal against anti-Semitism in Germany by being present was regrettably missed,” he said.
Subject: German news