Wednesday, August 10, 2016

An Israeli-American's Complicated Relationship With Germany

Orit Arfa is a young Israeli-American lady I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago when she was living and working for Jewish causes in Los Angeles. She has since moved to Israel. This summer she has been spending a few months in Berlin. Orit has developed a strong feeling of affection for the city and Germany in general. This, of course, conflicts with her identification as a Jew and her awareness of the Holocaust.

In the below article she has written for the LA Jewish Journal, she describes her feelings for Germany and her strong wish that the country will put aside its shame over the Holocaust just enough to deal with the migrant and terrorist onslaught it is facing and defend herself against it, for the country's sake, and for the sake of the rest of the world.

One reason I post this is because I identify with Orit's feelings of affection for Germany. I myself love the country and the culture. Spending three years of US Army service in the vicinity of Nuremberg (Erlangen) instilled a love of Germany in me as well as a desire to learn everything I could about the Hitlerian period (19 33-1945). Over the decades, I have become an amateur  scholar in the Third Reich and the Holocaust. It has led me into being an activist in fighting what is a worldwide resurgence in anti-Semitism. At the same time, my love for Germany and Erlangen has led me to return many times to the city where I spent a critical part of my youth and to even write a book on the history of Erlangen. The incumbent  research included a history of the city's Jews and their eventual fate in World War II.

Germany has acknowledged its dark past just as the US has acknowledged its own racial past. Our respective young generations have been educated about our mistakes-not for the purpose of teaching our youth that our countries are evil. They are not. It is to make sure that these things never happen again. Germany has become one of the most decent countries in the world as have we. (The same can be said for modern day Japan.)

Germany under Angela Merkel has made a colossal mistake in admitting millions of people who have little or no concept of the country's values. Indeed, many of them would prefer the values of the Nazis when it comes to the Jews. Perhaps, Merkel reasons that these people will fill the much-needed young worker force that will take care of Germany's aging population. If so, she is deluded. Part of the thinking no doubt goes along with Germany's desire to erase the Nazi past and prove that the country is a leader when it comes to human rights. Now Germany is paying the price of this irrational thinking in terms of lives lost and women being sexually attacked across the nation.

Orit is spending her summer enjoying the delights of one of the world's most fascinating cities and one of the world's most beautiful countries, but wondering what will become of this country, which is facing its worst crisis since World War II-and what it will mean for the rest of us. I appreciate her insight.

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