German and European anti-Semites of the 19th century, who paved the way for the Nazis, and enemies of Islam in the 21st century employ similar mechanisms. Historian Wolfgang Benz, who is the director of the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism in Berlin, sees significant parallels between the two supremacist movements. Concepts of the enemy are always constructions following certain principles; they distinguish between good (oneself) and evil (the “other”/external) as a basis for exclusion and putting the blame on a specific group.

19th century anti-Semites have managed to make their racist and deathly pseudo-theories public and to convince a significant number of people with fraud documents such as the fake “Protocols of the elders of Zion”, which were supposed to give evidence for an alleged Jewish world conspiracy. Today, Benz argues, the public should be more aware of these mechanisms and be able to unmask them. But still many people are ready to condemn Islam as “evil” on the grounds of a minority that is extremist. They spread irrational fears of a “foreign power” that takes over the society from within and with the help of demographics – arguments that were also used under Nazi rule when Jews were not allowed to procreate. Benz calls for actively remembering the consequences of the construction of enmities.

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