Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck commented on the war in the Middle East and anti-Semitism in Germany in a video. His speech received a lot of attention. Here it is verbatim.
Vice Chancellor Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck described his highly acclaimed video on solidarity with Israel and the Jews as a contribution of which there cannot be enough. After many conversations with representatives of the Jewish community and Jewish friends over the weekend, he thought about “untangling the confusing debate a little,” said the Green politician on Thursday.
In a video that his ministry distributed on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday evening, Habeck strongly condemned anti-Semitism in Germany and called for solidarity with Jews. According to the platform, the video had been viewed over four million times and shared thousands of times by Thursday morning. Politicians, including those from the CDU, praised the appeal. Here is his speech verbatim:
“Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel was almost four weeks ago now. A lot has happened since then: politically but above all for the people, so many people whose lives are consumed by fear and suffering. The public debate has heated up since the attack, sometimes confusing. With this video I would like to help unravel them.
Habeck: Jews in Germany are afraid
Too much seems to me to be mixed too quickly. The sentence ‘Israel’s security is German reason of state’ was never an empty formula and it must not become one. He says that Israel’s security is necessary for us as a state. This special relationship with Israel comes from our historical responsibility: it was my grandparents’ generation that wanted to destroy Jewish life in Germany and Europe. The founding of Israel, after the Holocaust, was a promise of protection to the Jews – and Germany is obliged to help ensure that this promise can be fulfilled. This is a historical foundation of this republic.
The responsibility of our history also means that Jews in Germany can live freely and safely. That they never have to be afraid to openly show their religion and their culture again. But this very fear is now back.
I recently met members of the Jewish community in Frankfurt. In an intensive, painful conversation, the community representatives told me that their children are afraid to go to school, that they no longer go to sports clubs, and that, on the advice of their parents, they leave the necklace with the Star of David at home. Today, here in Germany, almost 80 years after the Holocaust.
“Contextualization must not lead to relativization here”
They said that they no longer dared to get into a taxi and that they no longer put a return address on letters in order to protect their recipients. Today, here in Germany, almost 80 years after the Holocaust.
And a Jewish friend told me about his fear, his sheer desperation, his feeling of loneliness.
Jewish communities warn their members to avoid certain places – for their own safety. And this today, here in Germany, almost 80 years after the Holocaust.
Anti-Semitism shows up at demonstrations, it shows up in expressions, it shows up in attacks on Jewish shops, in threats. While there are quickly large waves of solidarity, for example when racist attacks occur, solidarity with Israel quickly breaks down. Then it is said that the context is difficult. However, contextualization must not lead to relativization here.
We certainly often have too much outrage in our debate culture. But we can’t be outraged enough here. What is needed now is clarity and not blurring. And it is important to be clear: anti-Semitism is not to be tolerated in any form – in any form.
There is no place for religious intolerance in Germany
The scale of the Islamist demonstrations in Berlin and other cities in Germany is unacceptable and requires a tough political response. This is also needed from the Muslim associations. Some have clearly distanced themselves from the actions of Hamas and anti-Semitism and have sought dialogue. But not all of them, and some are too hesitant and I think overall too few.
The Muslims living here are entitled to protection from right-wing extremist violence – and rightly so. If they are attacked, this claim must be honored and they must honor the same now when Jews are attacked. They must clearly distance themselves from anti-Semitism in order not to undermine their own claim to tolerance. There is no place for religious intolerance in Germany. Anyone who lives here lives according to the rules of this country. And anyone who comes here must know that this is how it is and how it will be enforced.
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Habeck warns of “entrenched anti-Semitism” in Germany
Our constitution protects and gives rights, but it also imposes duties that must be fulfilled by everyone. The two cannot be separated from each other. Tolerance cannot tolerate intolerance at this point. This is the core of our coexistence in this republic.
This means that burning Israeli flags is a criminal offense, as is praising Hamas’ terror. Anyone who is German will have to answer for this in court; anyone who is not German will also risk losing their residence status. Anyone who does not yet have a residence permit provides a reason to be deported.
Anti-colonialism must not lead to anti-Semitism.
However, Islamist anti-Semitism must not obscure the fact that we also have entrenched anti-Semitism in Germany: it is just that the right-wing extremists are holding back for purely tactical reasons in order to be able to incite hatred against Muslims. The relativization of the Second World War and the Nazi regime as ‘fly shit’ is not only a relativization of the Holocaust, it is a slap in the face to the victims and survivors.
Everyone who listens can and must know this. The Second World War was a war of extermination against Jews. For the Nazi regime, the destruction of European Jewry was the main goal. And because some of the right-wing extremists are Putin’s friends: Putin allows himself to be photographed with representatives of Hamas and the Iranian government and regrets the civilian victims in the Gaza Strip, while he creates civilian victims in the Ukraine. His friends in Germany, they are certainly not friends of the Jews.
But I am also concerned about anti-Semitism in parts of the political left, and unfortunately also among young activists. Anti-colonialism must not lead to anti-Semitism. In this respect, this part of the political left should examine its arguments and distrust the great resistance narrative. The ‘both sides’ argument is misleading here. Hamas is a murderous terrorist group fighting for the eradication of the State of Israel and the death of all Jews. The clarity with which this again z. B. the German section of Fridays For Future has also stated in contrast to its international friends, which in turn is more than respectable.
It was Hamas that brutally murdered children, parents and grandparents in their homes.
When I was recently in Turkey, I was told that pro-Palestinian demonstrations were banned in Germany. And that Germany must also transfer its humanitarian demands to the people in Gaza. I made it clear that we are of course allowed to criticize Israel. And that it is not forbidden to stand up for the rights of Palestinians and their right to their own state. But calling for violence against Jews or celebrating violence against Jews is forbidden – and rightly so!
Yes, life in Gaza is life with a lack of prospects and poverty. Yes, the settler movement in the West Bank is fomenting strife and depriving Palestinians of hope, rights and, increasingly, lives. And the suffering of the civilian population now in war is a fact, a terrible fact. Every dead child is one too many. I too am calling for humanitarian deliveries and am committed to ensuring that water, medicine and relief supplies come to Gaza and that the refugees are protected.
Habeck: “Israel’s security is our obligation. Germany knows that”
Together with our American friends, we repeatedly make it clear to Israel that the protection of the civilian population is crucial. The death and suffering that is now coming to the people of Gaza is terrible. Saying this is as necessary as it is legitimate. However, this cannot legitimize systematic violence against Jews. Anti-Semitism cannot be justified by this. Of course, Israel must adhere to international law and international standards. But the difference is: Who would ever formulate such expectations of Hamas?
And because I was recently confronted abroad with how the attack on Israel on October 7th was trivialized as – quote – ‘unfortunate incident’, and even the facts were questioned, I am reminded here again: It was Hamas, who brutally murdered children, parents and grandparents in their homes. Whose fighters mutilated corpses, kidnapped people and subjected them to public humiliation while laughing. These are reports of sheer horror – and yet Hamas is celebrated as a freedom movement? This is a reversal of the facts that we cannot let stand.
And that brings me to my final point: the attack on Israel comes at a time when several Muslim states are moving closer to Israel. There are the Abraham Accords between Israel and Muslim states in the region. Jordan and Israel are working together on a large drinking water project. Saudi Arabia was on the path to normalizing its relationship with Israel. But peaceful coexistence between Israel and its neighbors, between Jews and Muslims, the prospect of a two-state solution – Hamas and its supporters, especially the Iranian government, do not want any of this. They want to destroy it.
Anyone who has not given up hope for peace in the region, anyone who holds on to the Palestinians’ right to their own state and a real perspective – and that’s what we do – must now differentiate in these testing weeks. And part of the differentiation is that Hamas’ murderous acts are intended to prevent peace. Hamas does not want reconciliation with Israel, but rather the annihilation of Israel. And that is why the following applies: Israel’s right to exist must not be relativized. The security of Israel is our obligation. Germany knows that.”