Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Islam is a part of German society and "Toten Hosen" play in Tel-Aviv

Now "our" politicians are a motley crew of mediocrities, none of them to be taken too seriously, all of them expendable. Nevertheless, even although organised religion is the most aburd gobbledegook,when the German president, Christian Wulff stands up and says  that Islam is an integral part of German society, that can be taken seriously for what Mr Wulff is effectively telling all and sundry is that islamophobia, xenophobia, anti-semitism, racism, is not Salonfähig. In other words, it is just not on, not politically correct. Therefore, it can be reasonably assumed that Germany today is very different from the Germany that woke up on the morning of the 10th November 1938  

Unfortunately, there is still real cause for concern and the evidence would seem to suggest that that "wir haben es nicht gewusst", that look the other way,  sector of the population is still thick on the ground. For instance, there is Andreas Frege, better known as Campino, the lead singer in the German group "Toten Hosen", another politically correct, very Salonfähig German whose myopia has him and his mates jumping around a stage in Tel Aviv as .... a punk rocker of all things. Yes, it would appear that he has totally misunderstood that late seventies/early eighties  "no future" generation's "not giving a fuck philosophy" and we might expect very different behaviour from someone who has played Macky Messer in Brecht's Dreigroschenoper and who, apparently has supported social projects against racism and provided financial support for legal aid for asylum seekers.

Anyway, there he was in yesterday's ZDF full of praise for how open the people are in Israel and telling us how important it is that a  German group can play there, while down on the beach young Israelis supped their Weissbier and told us how they would like to visit Berlin and in the meantime forty miles down the road in Gaza they cannot even travel out of their prison, or just up the road in the Occupied Territories, they have to stop every five minutes to be humiliated at an Israelli control point? Yes, maybe its something to do with his being German, but Andreas hasn't quite understood or he really is guilty of that type of opportunism that saw 99% of Germany's Civil Service stay in office after Adolf came to power.  Otherwise, he might take his cue from that group of Israeli activists who wrote an open letter to the Pixies in March, asking “Are you prepared to perform in Tel Aviv,” they wrote, “while just under your nose millions of human beings are suffocating under a cruel Israeli military regime, denying them elementary human rights?” The Pixies didn't go and in not going they have followed in the footsteps of those many other aritists who have boycotted the Zionist regime.

The good news from Germany is that islamophobia, xenophobia, anti-semitism, racism, are, for the time being, not politically correct. The bad news is that there are still a lot of people out there who are all too willing to turn a blind eye, to look the other way.  Moreover, this is all the more worrying, considering that, unlike their grandparents generation, they can say something, do something, follow their conscience, without having to worry about ending up in a concentration camp themselves.  Moreover, while it is, of course, to some extent understandable, nowhere is the collective myopia, this tendency to turn a blind eye, to look the other way, more obvious than is in Germany when it comes to Israel and it is only when the Germans and German society move beyond this that Christian Wulff's words will be more than just pure political expediency and Germany will indeed have learned from its past.


Julia (20) said...

I think it was the right decision of Campino to give a concert there. As Campino said "as long as people want to see us, we'll go there and play gigs. We are in Israel for the people, not for the government".

I think, that's the right sign. I doubt that cancelling a concert has a huge impact on the regime and in my opinion nobody benefits from a boycott.

James Nelson said...

thanks for you opinion, julia. in the context of the post, however, it might be worth pointing you to klaus mann's portrayal of gustaf gründgens in his book "mephisto".
it is not about just "one concert" but rather about legitimising a regime that breaks international law at every turn. to say campino was right is to suggest that those artists who are boycotting israel are wrong. they are not, exactly in the same way as those who boycotted south africa were not wrong to do so.
finally, believe me that artists boycotting israel sends the right message and in sending that message israel is left to understand that its behaviour is unacceptable. that has to be important for all of us. moreover, it tells a people who are effectively locked in an iron cage and bullied, dispossesed and humiliated that they are not alone.
when there are mass protests on the streets of tel aviv and jerusalem against the occupation and against the blockade of gaza, i would be more than happy to see campino and others going to israel and playing to show solidarity with those demonstrators.