Aug 22, 2007 9:51 | Updated Aug 22, 2007 9:51
Lessons from the past?

The image of a horned Ariel Sharon with vampire-like teeth is one of several jarring displays that greet visitors these days to Germany’s Foreign Ministry building in Berlin.

ANTI-JEWISH sentiment is not merely a relic of the past in modern day Germany. Berlin’s Foreign Ministry exhibits modern examples of anti-Semitism.
Photo: JTA

Among others is a depiction of President George Bush surrounded by bearded rabbis as his gurus and a description of Israel as the “Fourth Reich.”

Unlike during the Third Reich, these images on public display are not official German propaganda but part of a German government exhibition on contemporary anti-Semitism that aims to show that anti-Jewish sentiment in the German Republic, and in Europe generally, is not just a relic of the past.

“Anti-Semitism? Anti-Zionism? Israeli Critique?” opened August 1 in the atrium of Germany’s Foreign Ministry. In September it will begin an extensive tour of German cities, starting at Berlin’s Technical University.

The exhibit, a collaborative effort between the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and the Berlin-based Center for Research on Anti-Semitism, takes on an issue of enduring controversy: Just when does criticism of Israel cross the border of legitimacy?

“There is a clear boundary in debates about solidarity with Israel,” Gernot Erler, minister of state at Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, said, introducing the exhibit to some 200 guests at the opening. “Israel’s right to exist within clear and recognizable borders is a non-negotiable point.”