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German Textbooks and Anti-Israel Liberal Elites

Pollster Frank Luntz briefly generated shock waves this week with a survey showing the abysmal view of Israel held by Democratic opinion leaders. Inter alia, 47 percent deemed Israel racist, with only 32 percent disagreeing, and a whopping 76 percent said Israel has too much influence on U.S. foreign policy. But in truth, it shouldn’t be news to anyone by now that anti-Israel sentiment, like its kissing cousin anti-Semitism, is primarily the province of the liberal elites. I’ve written before about a German study showing that educated elites, rather than the far-right fringes, are the wellspring of anti-Semitism in that country; just last month, another study found that the same is true for anti-Israel sentiment. And the reason for this goes beyond the obvious fact that anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism are related.

The background to the new German study is a series of polls showing shocking levels of anti-Israel sentiment among ordinary Germans: For instance, fully 35 percent “equate Israeli policies toward the Palestinians with Nazi policies toward the Jews.” Given the vaunted “special relationship” between Germany and Israel, such findings raise obvious questions about how so many Germans developed such warped views.

So a group of German and Israeli researchers decided to analyze German textbooks to see what exactly German schools are teaching their students. They examined 1,200 history, geography and social studies textbooks from five German states, and concluded that these books portray Israel almost exclusively as a militarist, warmongering society.

Israel’s robust democracy, respect for human rights and other achievements are absent in these books. The illustrations consist of “tendentious and one-sided photographic presentations” of Israeli soldiers threatening or inflicting violence on Palestinians.

“Occupation and settlements” are depicted as the main obstacles to peace; the fact that both Israelis and Palestinians have claims to the land goes unmentioned, and Palestinian terror gets a free pass – or as the report puts it, most of the authors “find it difficult to unequivocally call Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians acts of terror.”

In short, it’s not surprising that so many Germans have such negative views of Israel, because that’s precisely what they are taught in school. True, the textbooks don’t actually compare Israel to the Nazis, but the comparison doesn’t require a big leap of logic for graduates of these schools; after all, to a German, the paradigmatic example of a militarist, warmongering society is Nazi Germany. So once you tell students that Israel, too, is a militarist, warmongering society, the Nazi analogy comes naturally.

But who writes the textbooks that give these pupils such a warped view of Israel? Hint: It’s not the neo-Nazi skinheads. It’s the liberal elites.

This brings us to the question of why liberal elites so loathe the only Mideast country that, as Julie Burchill once wrote, any of them “could bear to live under.” The answer can be found in a comment made by “a senior European diplomat” last month about a seemingly unrelated topic: the upcoming British referendum on whether to stay in the European Union.

“The nation state is a very old concept and perhaps the British have not fully recognized that it may be slightly out of date,” the diplomat declared. And that, as I’ve noted before, is the heart of the matter: In the dogma of the modern liberal elites, the nation-state is passé.

The fact that most of the world still consists of nation-states in no way challenges this dogma; after all, you can’t expect benighted regimes to have reached this level of enlightenment yet. Israel, however, is a potent challenge to the dogma: It’s a modern, Western, democratic, human-rights-respecting country that nevertheless proudly proclaims itself the nation-state of the Jewish people.

And there’s only one way for liberal elites to resolve the cognitive dissonance this causes without sacrificing their cherished dogma: by sacrificing Israel. Or, in other words, by painting as a racist, warmongering, benighted country no different from all the other unenlightened nation-states.

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5 Responses to “German Textbooks and Anti-Israel Liberal Elites”


    Those German and Israeli researchers now need to analyze why the writers and compilers of those 1,200 German textbooks, and liberal elites in general, insist on portraying Israel in such a harsh light. Anti-Semitism is the easy and wrong answer, although of course it is a factor.

    They will find the reason is the outcome of WWII. There one side had championed the Fuehrer principle, racism and the idea that one Aryan is worth any number of lesser breeds.

    The Nazis lost that fight. The victors became the champions of the opposite cause: human equality and democracy. Those two ideas have now become the twin pillars of today’s global religion.

    Israel’s problem is that its neighbors have forced it to beat 50 to 1 odds to stay alive. Moreover, in the course of struggling in a competitive world, its 7 million Jews have not only shown their mettle on the battlefield, but in every other competition and endeavor from farming to fashion design, from from making money to making art, from healing to entertaining.

    The Israelis, in effect by staying alive and finding ways to earn a decent living, in a region that wants them dead and knows mainly squalor, defy the modern consensus about human equality and democracy.

    Those school-book writers and liberal elites see in the Israelis the implicit assertion, the Nazis were right after all.

    Moreover, Israel has made explicit, in concrete and graphic form, the ingenuity much of the world has often suspected and resented them for.

    There is an antidote. The world must be shown a vision of humankind and its future that makes a virtue of and finds utility in the variety of human differences, rather than denying them.

  2. KENT LYON says:

    The question remains apt: Why are American Jews so thoroughly enraptured by American liberal elites, such as Obama, who are more than just anti-Israeli; they are down right anti_Semitic (they attempt to disguise it, and seemed to have the vast majority of American Jews completely bamboozled–either that or American Jews are also anti-Israeli and anti_Semitic, or are profoundly embarrased about Israel or being Jewish). Maybe what Obama means when he says his values are as Jewish, or more, as American Jews, is that he despises Israel and Jews as much as they do? Can anyone explain?

  3. THOMAS GARVEY says:

    May be worthwhile to see what textbooks in our “enlightened” towns have on subject. Berkeley and others come to mind.

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