Tamar Maare

An aspect that I found particularly interesting (even if not the most pressing) throughout the seminars and the event was one that relates to the emotions of those involved in the production of media in Germany, and those represented (or not) in it. During the second panel, one of the participants excused her elevation or consideration of antisemitism as the most pressing form of discrimination or injustice for her, due to the fact that her father was a Nazi. One of the participants of the first panel, a southern-Lebanese (whose name I might not be allowed to mention) responded to her claiming that when referring to the conflict in the Middle East, it is not the feelings of German that should be discussed-there is an urgency that requires us to respond and make moral judgements that don’t have anything to do with her, but rather with the lives of those who are living and dying under the influence of the Israeli occupation. His, and other Lebanese people’s feelings are, that their lives don’t matter as much as the lives of Jewish people, and this is related to Germany’s past. How does one continue to recognize the specificity that antisemitism did have in the German history so as to not make it abstract but tied to a context which does matter, but at the same time not let it take over moral judgements that should be made independently of it (or, one would say, precisely because of it)? How much importance should feelings be given in this discussion? When are they legitimate, and whose feelings get to be expressed in the public sphere?  On the one hand, feelings of Germans should not be the determining ground for criticizing Israel or talking about the middle east. On the other hand, they are important-especially when we are reflective and honest about where they come from. But in this case, it should be taken for granted that everyone’s feelings are considered legitimate- The German who feels as if antisemitism is more pressing than Islamophobia or homophobia because her father was a Nazi, the Israeli Jew who hears slurs directed at Jews but does not perceive them as threatening because she perceives violence and threat in a different way that “bio-Germans” would find unacceptable, the Palestinian who does not recognize the right of Israel to exist even though he was educated under the German educational system. We can’t assume that all Germans-including Germans with “migration background” feel that antisemitism is the most pressing form of discrimination that should be addressed in the media. The feelings of those who make the German population are clearly not represented in the mainstream media enough. Criticizing Israel seems to be a taboo, but perhaps it would be considered more legitimate or digestible if it is expressed by a Jew/Israeli? We should also look at where these experiences are relevant-I think it’s legitimate to say “I feel this way because of my x background”-but what does this mean about one’s journalism and reporting? Perhaps the expression of feelings and biases is appropriate in conferences like the one we had, but I don’t think we should find it acceptable when it is used to justify blindness to other injustices-this cannot be helpful for anyone involved in the ‘conflict’ but it is rather an implication of certain moral laziness or wish to stay in a certain, dangerous comfort zone.

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