February 04, 2021

In today’s Germany, a new book makes fun of antisemitism and antisemites through cartoons

It says a lot that in Germany today, you can find a book of cartoons called “#Antisemitismus für Anfänger” or “#antisemitism for Beginners,” ("#Antisemitismus für Anfänger") put out by a unique, Jewish children’s book publisher.

But what prompted this "antisemitism-for-dummies" approach is that antisemitism is still a problem in Germany. In fact, it’s on the rise.

Katharina Greve, a Berlin-based cartoonist who contributed to “#Antisemitismus für Anfänger,” has this dark observation: “antisemitism is a German tradition.”

“You are converting to Judaism? Why?” "We want to be part of a worldwide conspiracy, too," by Katharina Greve, “#Anti-Semitismus für Anfänger: Eine Anthologie,” Ariella Verlag, 2020. Credit:Courtesy of Katharina Greve/Ariella Verlag

In one of her cartoons featured in the book, some respectable, educated, well-heeled Germans are at a party talking.

One woman asks a couple: “You are converting to Judaism? Why?” The other woman answers: “We want to be part of a worldwide conspiracy, too.”

Greve says Germans definitely know their history but there’s a kind of middle-class, antisemitism at work these days.

“It’s a kind of micro-antisemitism, and everyone has a little of it in them. Sometimes, it’s to criticize Israel and to tell Israel how to act. It’s not ‘we have to kill all Jews' now. It’s to tell Israel not to make the same mistake.”

“I don’t call them Jews, I call them Israelis when I mock them, out of respect for our German history," by Til Mette, “#Anti-Semitismus für Anfänger: Eine Anthologie,” Ariella Verlag, 2020. Credit: Courtesy of Til Mette/Ariella Verlag

Til Mette is another contributor to "#antisemitismus für Anfänger."" He cartoons for the popular German news magazine Stern.

“We live in very very weird times. In Germany, in France, in the US, we all have the same tendencies, with right-wing extremists showing up."

“Police don’t rule out anti-Semitic motives in this attack," by Til Mette, "#Anti-Semitismus für Anfänger: Eine Anthologie," Ariella Verlag, 2020. Credit: Courtesy of Til Mette/Ariella Verlag

Mette, 64, grew up at a time when Germany was coming to terms with its Nazi past and transforming itself into a strong, liberal democracy. antisemitism is something he takes very seriously.

"Especially, if you’re from Germany, you know that this is a topic that stays with you a lifetime," he said.

“Wearing a kippah seems very dangerous. I am surprised that it’s not forbidden yet," by Til Mette, "#Anti-Semitismus für Anfänger: Eine Anthologie," Ariella Verlag, 2020. Credit:Courtesy of Til Mette/Ariella Verlag

Mette knows the audience for his cartoons in Stern and "#antisemitismus für Anfänger" are overwhelmingly liberal, but at this point, he doesn’t know how to reach far-right neo-Nazis, some of the main stokers of antisemitism in Germany. He says he’s at a loss.

“It doesn’t work to fight Nazis. They won’t look at it. We don’t have the tools to fight Nazis.”

Newscaster: “You are distancing yourselves from the hate crime near the synagogue in Halle, Germany." Neo-Nazi: “Yes. We don’t want to be reduced to mere anti-Semitism," by Katharina Greve, "#Anti-Semitismus für Anfänger: Eine Anthologie" Ariella Verlag, 2020. Credit: Courtesy of Katharina Greve/Ariella Verlag

Mette says his cartoons may not cure antisemitism but he’s going to keep on drawing them. It’s what he does.

“It can capture an idea in one single drawing and it triggers something in your body. You don’t have to use your brain. Your belly tells you whether to laugh or not to laugh.”

Source: pri