When Protesting Israel Becomes Hating Jews

Jason Stanley in the Boston Review:

There has been a great deal of attention to anti-Semitic demonstrations in Europe. The demonstrations in Berlin have been particularly hard to watch for those of us who are children of German Jewish refugees, and are aghast at what is happening to the people of Gaza. It is clear from Israeli social media and other sources that the demonstrations are being used as evidence of the threat Israel faces, and as support for Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian lands and the subjugation of its people. It is worthwhile taking the time to explain why here, as so often elsewhere, the politics of hate play directly into the hands of those at whom it is directed. But first, some family history.

My father was raised in Berlin. His favorite park was Olivier Platz, in Charlottenburg; he liked the flowers, and he liked sitting on the benches. He liked watching the people go by the Kurfürstendamm from his grandparent’s balcony. Both of his parents grew up in Berlin, and loved that city dearly. They had picnics in Grunewald. My grandmother and grandfather met their friends at the Kempenski hotel. They were Germans.

Ultimately, of course, my father and his family lost everything. His grandfather, Magnus Davidsohn, was the cantor of the liberal synagogue on the Fasanenstrasse; my father watched it burn. He was beaten on the streets by thugs, beatings that gave him epilepsy. And because of a stroke of magical luck— the stroke that every survivor’s family has— in March of 1939, at the age of 6, he and my grandmother received a visa to the United States. In Germany, they were prosperous. But they arrived in New York City, in August of 1939, with nothing.

More here.