“On the day that we exodus from Auschwitz and we build a new state of Israel, we also have to free Germany from our imprisonment.” Avraham Burg1
Medinat Weimar is not talking about a separation of one state for Jews and one for the Thurigians, but rather “A union of two independent people with equal rights, that each one is master of himself in his own communities and culture, both are united in the job of devolving their shared homeland with a federal management of the common interests.”2 Like the dream Martin Buber had for a Jewish-Arab state in Palestine.
Let us look at the anti-Semitic stereotypes: the Jews are so good with money and control the economy of the world. Oh, and also the media! Like the Japanese, the Fugu Plan that wanted to benefit of the supposed economic prowess of the Jews and convince the United States, specifically American Jewry, to grant their favor and investment to Japan. Maybe this would work in Thuringia. Who knows? There is always some truth to every stereotype.
“No one else in the whole of Europe was a European 80 years ago. Everyone was a Bulgarian patriot, a Swedish patriot, an Irish patriot. They were Europeans. They never regarded themselves as Russians, or Polish, or Lithuanian or whatever. They were Europeans. They loved everything to do with Europe, the languages. All of them were great polyglots. The heritage, the culture, the art, the landscape, the climate, the winter, the snow, the storms. They loved the forests. They loved the traditions, the folklore, and above all the music. They loved the music to the point of crying each time they were listening to European music. Unfortunately they were not loved back at all. For being Europeans they were labeled cosmopolitans, parasites, rootless intellectuals.
And some of you may know that these pejoratives were the shared vocabulary of Nazis and communists. The same pejoratives, cosmopolitans, rootless intellectuals, parasites. My father, my mother, my grandparents. Yes, they brought with them to Jerusalem the unrequited love for Europe, just like those Jews who were kicked out of the Arab countries brought with them the unrequited love for Iraq, the unrequited love for Yemen, the unrequited love for Morocco and Tunisia.”3
Before the Holocaust, many Jews from Germany and all over Europe “saw their true home in German culture and language. Their true religion was the bourgeois, Goethean ideal of Bildung (high culture)”.4 Following the defeat of the First World War, the concept of bildung was defeated in the hands of the political right: nationalist and racist, yet proud of its educational and cultural status. The Aryan race alone was said to posses the depth of feeling that bildung required. “German and Jewish Bildungsbürger tried to keep the German classics alive as one of the chief bulwarks against the predominance of feelings and instincts. Goethe, Schiller, Lessing, Herder, and Fitche were heroes for Jews and gentiles alike, mythical figures who served to define Jewish culture. However, in order to bolster their own concept of culture, most Germans eventually began to define these classics differently from German Jews. Thus, for example, in mainstream German culture, Herder, who had been a man of enlightenment, was transformed into a prophet of nationalism, and even Goethe, who failed to support the German wars of liberation against the French, was considered a German patriot.”5
The fact that German Jews played a leading role in Goethe societies and wrote so many Goethe biographies6, the fact that so many Jews were students of Nietzsche and great lovers of Schiller seems today almost bizarre. The Nazi cultural separation between German and Jew still prevails. But a great German-Jewish dialogue did take place, and it exemplified a humanistic, tolerant tradition.
“Martin Buber rhapsodized about a German-Jewish symbiosis as late as 1939: it had been abruptly interrupted by the Nazis, he claimed, but it might be resumed again in the future. After the holocaust, only penitent Germans evoked it, guilt stricken and refuel over their loss.”7
The people of Thuringia should look forward for the establishment of a Jewish state; it really is the only hope for the future of their failing emptying state. In addition, maybe the German-Jewish symbiosis will triumph again. Maybe Medinat Weimar will give birth to a Martin Buber, Rosa Luxembourg, Heinrich Heine, Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Karl Marx, Moses Mendelssohn or even a Kurt Weill. But probably not as it should be made clear that the new Jews that will come will not be Albert Einsteins. Very few Jews today read Goethe and Schiller or will bother separating white glass from brown. The German-Jewish dialogue ended tragically over seventy years ago. Today the Jews are “loud Israelis”, “pushy Americans”, ” aggressive Russians”, “short tempered Moroccans”, and many of us are just really “dirty Arabs” from the Middle East. Yes we will save you, but we don’t promise you will enjoy it.
In 1896, Herzl wrote in his diary a note that amazingly looks like he was referring to the project:
“Life under the protectorate of this powerful, great, moral, splendidly administrated, firmly governed Germany can only have the most salutary effects on Jewish national character… strange ways of destiny! Through Zionism it will again be possible for Jews to love Germany to which our hearts remained attached despite everything.”8
1 Avraham Burg, Victory over Hitler (2007), p. 372
2 Martin Buber, The Meaning of Zionism (1946), p. 188
3 Converation with Amos Oz, Kar l Kahane Foundation, 13.3. 2005
4 Amos Elon, The Pity Of It All, A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch 1743-1933. p. 9
5 George L. Mosse, Germans Jews Beyond Judaism. Pg 43
6 Ibid. p. 45
7 Elon, p. 11
8 Theador. Herzl, The complete diaries of Theodor Herzl (1896)
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