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From a recent article in The Guardian about the rise of antisemitism in Europe.

A similar normalisation may be under way in Germany, according to a 2013 study by the Technical University of Berlin. In 14,000 hate-mail letters, emails and faxes sent over 10 years to the Israeli embassy in Berlin and the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Professor Monika Schwarz-Friesel found that 60% were written by educated, middle-class Germans, including professors, lawyers, priests and university and secondary school students. Most, too, were unafraid to give their names and addresses – something she felt few Germans would have done 20 or 30 years ago.

That sounds very convincing. “Unafraid to give their names” sounds like an impressive fact, showing how socially accepted antisemitic threats have become, in contrast to 20 years ago. But then it reminded me of an interview given by Ignatz Bubis, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, almost exactly 20 years ago (14 December 1992, to be precise):

SPIEGEL: Mr Bubis, have you received any antisemitic letters today?

BUBIS: Yes. They range from threats to ridiculous pamphlets explaining that Jews meddle in everything, to insults. A man wrote to me recently to say, he saw me on television, and was greatly impressed by what I said — until it occurred to him, that I belong to another race, and so everything I said was terrible.

SPIEGEL: What is new about this antisemitism?

BUBIS: The only thing that is new, is that the letters now come with name and return address. Antisemitism is now socially acceptable. It is once again permitted.

(original German below the break)

Perhaps it is just wishful thinking, to suppose that there must have been a brief shining moment when anti-Semites were ashamed to sign their names to their threatening letters.

SPIEGEL: Herr Bubis, haben Sie heute antisemitische Briefe in Ihrer Post gefunden?

BUBIS: Ja, auch. Dazu gehören Drohungen und blödsinnige Pamphlete, die Juden würden sich überall einmischen, bis hin zu Beschimpfungen. Neulich schrieb mir ein Mann, daß er mich im ZDF gesehen habe und daß er allergrößte Hochachtung empfinde – bis ihm eingefallen sei, daß ich andersrassig sei und deshalb alles, was ich sage, ganz schlimm sei.

SPIEGEL: Was ist neu an diesem Antisemitismus?

BUBIS: Neu ist nur, daß die Briefe jetzt mit Absender geschrieben werden. Antisemitismus ist wieder salonfähig. Man darf es wieder.

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