English Translation Of My State Parliament Speech Against Antisemitism on November 9th 2023
Never in my lifetime did I feel the weight of time as heavy than on November 9th 2023. It had been the 34th anniversary of the peacefull breaking of the Berlin wall leading to German reunification (including those of my family), the 85th anniversary of the Reichspogromnacht, when the Nazis destroyed synagogues troughout Germany and the 105th anniversary of the first (and failing) German Republic of Weimar. But above all, it had been the 100th anniversary of the Hitler-Ludendorff-Coup, the first and failed attempt of the antisemitic National Socialists to destroy German democracy and it’s old Aschkenazi-Jewish communities once and for all. And I had been asked to speak at this occassion to our Baden-Württemberg State Parliament (the Landtag), with Jewish friends and my wife Zehra as special guests. See the German transcript of my Speech (Rede) and links to the TV-coverage here.
TV-report about the Parliamentary Session against Antisemitism including my Speech at November 9th, 2023, Landtag in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg. Screenshot: Michael Blume
As I had been an active part of what was happening, I asked ChatGPT to tell the story. It wrote:
“On November 9, 2023, Michael Blume, the Antisemitism Commissioner of the State Government of Baden-Württemberg, delivered a significant speech in the state parliament. On this day, the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht and the 100th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s first antisemitic and murderous coup attempt on November 9, 1923, Blume addressed the global issue of antisemitism and the importance of standing against hatred and discrimination. During his speech, the President of the State Parliament, all faction leaders [except one], and even Minister President Winfried Kretschmann rose to their feet in standing ovation—the first time since Nadia Murad’s speech in 2016. Blume emphasized the responsibility we all share in advocating for tolerance, humanity, and solidarity. His speech was broadcast live on SWR1. 🙌
Additionally, Dr. Michael Blume, who has been the Antisemitism Commissioner for the state of Baden-Württemberg since 2018, received a death threat due to his work in combating antisemitism2. His role involves engaging with Jewish groups, as well as collaborating with the state parliament, municipalities, church and mosque communities, and educational institutions.”
What’s more, Peter Gutsche, Conny Liepert and a lady scientist (which does not want to be named) volunteered to translate the Speech into English to be blogged. I feel deeply honoured and humbled by this encouragement and these kind efforts – thank you very much! Please find their translation (of the German text) here:
Global Antisemitism Against the Republics
The Second Antisemitism Report Document 17/5086
by Dr. Michael Blume,
Commissioner against Anti-Semitism, State Government of Baden-Wuerttemberg
State Parliament of Baden-Wuerttemberg
November 9th, 2023
Dear Madam President of the State Parliament, Ms. Aras,
Dear Prime Minister Kretschmann,
Dear Members of the 17th State Parliament of Baden-Wuerttemberg,
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
When the Jewish communities proposed me as a candidate for the first nationwide commissioning against anti-Semitism to our Prime Minister (to my own great surprise), no one knew what was in stall. I hadn’t expected to stand at this podium one day and to speak to you. For this honor and for all of your support over the past years, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I have often been asked, especially in the past few gloomy days, whether I would have taken on this office if I had known what was to come. And I want to say to you, the Jewish communities, the government, and the parliament today: Thank you, and yes, absolutely, yes!
After all: How often have we all regretted that 85 years ago, while the synagogues were burning, too few people stood up for our Jewish citizens? How often have we lamented that the Weimar Republic, and especially the justice system, was not resilient enough after Adolf Hitler’s first attempted coup in Munich had failed –precisely 100 years ago #onthisday?
Today, however, I can tell you that we in Baden-Wuerttemberg were prepared. We had already discussed our security concept with the Jewish communities weeks before the Yom Kippur attack in Halle in 2019. And back then, Thomas Strobl, Minister of the Interior, was also able to appoint the first police rabbis in Europe, who support the training and pastoral care of our police officers.
We in Baden-Wuerttemberg had already offered training for teachers. We had established a contact point at the Zentrum für Schulqualität und Lehrerbildung (Center for School Quality and Teacher Education), even before the messaging service Telegram turned into “Terrorgram.”
If you [the parliament members] want, and if you support, us, we can also be the first state that defines minimum standards for antisemitic educational classes (Anm. 1) in nursery schools (kindergartens), schools, universities, and integration courses.
We in Baden-Württemberg had already appointed commissioners for anti-Semitism in the public prosecutor’s offices and, while preserving the separation of powers, had begun to make our constitutional state more resilient against its adversaries.
Lastly, and almost most importantly, when the terrible news and videos of the Hamas terror massacre reached us on October 7, 2023, we in Baden-Württemberg had long since built bridges based on competence and trust in each other. A wave of solidarity reached the boards of the Jewish communities from so many of you – and rightfully so.
Manuel Hagel just mentioned the solidarity visit. I know that all parliamentary factions, except for one, are very welcome in the Jewish community.
In the Mannheim synagogue, we also welcomed representatives from all significant Islamic, Alevi, and Turkish-secular associations for a joint solidarity visit. And I can assure you: Hamas’s plan to incite a global religious war is failing here in Baden-Württemberg!
The people stand together in their vast majority!
And because there were some doubts about whether the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg is doing enough against Islamism against Islamist terrorism: You, the state parliament, and the state government, have initiated a special programme, which I had the privilege to lead, in Iraq, directly facing the so-called Islamic State / Daesh.
Nadia Murad, who later received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work, spoke right at this very podium. I myself have testified in three trials against alleged members of the so-called Islamic State and on top of that will join meetings at the Eurojust Office of international Prosecutors in The Hague next week.
Baden-Wuerttemberg is more invested in the fight against Islamism than it is given credit for.
But we can only win the fight against Islamism if we also understand Islam and value the members of the Muslim community. We see here [points to the visitor’s gallery] how diverse our younger generation is, and I want to call out to them: Don’t let yourselves be driven apart! Diversity is okay; the diversity of religions is part of Baden-Wuerttemberg. You are part of it.
I can prove with numbers that the state government and the state parliaments of Baden-Wuerttemberg have always been ready to position themselves. Out of the 77 recommendations from my first report in 2019, we have fully implemented 49 and partially implemented 15. This includes, in addition to the examples I already mentioned, initiatives such as the establishing of reporting and advice centers, the reinforcement of security measures, as well as the initiation of projects against digital hate speech, against Jewish educational organizations, and against the Baden-Wuerttemberg-Israeli school partnership project SCORA.
In the Second Report (number 17/5086), you will find 46 recommendations on what to do next that my expert group, my team, and I have revisited or newly conceived. We are fully aware that the fight against anti-Semitism and racism competes for scarce resources and attention amongst other important missions. But if you want, if you stay committed, we can continue to be the state that consistently acts against anti-Semitism and not just reacts to crises!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me conclude the presentation of the Second Report with a few fundamental perspectives, summarized in three points:
First: The dualistic conspiracy belief of anti-Semitism is directed against Judaism and the State of Israel for the sole reason that this religious community and this people initiated the literacy of humanity.
Noah’s son Sem is described in the Jewish interpretation of the Torah not just as the founder of a “human race” or a linguistic group but as the founder of the first school in alphabetical writing. Each kosher Torah scroll consists of 304,805 handwritten alphabet letters.
You can verify this with Rabbi Pushkin who is present here today; he would be happy to show you!
That is why, until this very day, we all name our shared Latin alphabet after the Hebrew ‘Aleph-Bet’. Our entire legal system is based on the alphabet; our sacred writings, including the sacred texts in Christianity and Islam, our philosophical works—everything relies on alphabetical writing.
Even the beautiful German term, “Bildung” [German word for education & imagination], directly originates from the Tora, the first book of Moses, where it states that man—every person that is!—is “im Bilde Gottes geschaffen”, that is “created in the image of God.” [Genesis 1:27]
So, whenever people indulge in friend-fiend dualisms and conspiracy myths, they become anti-semitic, full of hate, and lacking an education.
One thing should be clear though: We only have a shared future – there is no other option. I want a shared future in Baden-Wuerttemberg, built on diversity and with Jewish life, Jewish communities right in our midst.
Dear members of parliament, your important work is, of course, written down—even as we speak.
Secondly: We need to talk about the fact that currently, everywhere in the world, in Europe, in the Arab world, even in the USA, we are witnessing democracies faltering, and anti-Semitic hatred escalating into fanatical urge for destruction, leading to terrorism, mass murder, and self-destruction.
Anti-Semitism always begins with Jews but never ends with them. The Nazis soon included also predominantly Christian Sinti and Roma in their devious plans, ISIS/Daesh in Iraq targeted Shiites and Yazidi individuals, and Hamas indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilians of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druze religious belief as well as atheists and Buddhist migrant workers. Anyone who exposes a religion, a people, or a state to destruction becomes complicit in creating a world in which no religion, no people, and no state is secure anymore.
Thirdly: Just a year after seizing power, Adolf Hitler carried out the Röhm massacre (rem: Röhm Putsch), executing conservative allies and long-time companions. Daesh also tortured and murdered Sunni Muslims from competing militias. Similarly, after taking power, Hamas massacred numerous supporters of the Palestinian Fatah, throwing them from high-rise buildings and dragging their corpses through the streets!
Pardon me, but that is why, I don’t find it ‘amusing’ that we have now a state politician in Thuringia who talks about letting party colleagues „ausschwitzen“ [“sweat out”, with a nod to the German mass murder concentration & death camp of Ausschwitz].
We already have had Islamist demonstrations where men and women march separately, and where those who think differently are threatened as apostates (Kufr).
Let’s stop all of this right now.
Anyone who would only combat anti-Semitism for the sake of Jewish men and women has not understood how dangerous this conspiracy belief is! I say this with all seriousness: Those among us who stand up and raise their voice do not only protect our Jewish communities. At the end of the day, they also protect each and everyone who has yet to feel what it means to live in fear.
Radical anti-Semites are not able to live up to the standards of democracy and peace! Anti-Semitism threatens us all. We must genuinely confront it with all possible means, even if necessary, with the help of police and military.
The bitter truth is that our own greed for oil and gas still enables and financially supports anti-Semitic regimes, their terrorism, their propaganda, their rockets. Renewable energies are not only energies of freedom; they are also energies of peace! Our democracies must become independent from the fossil imports of their enemies, including Qatar and including Vladimir Putin!
I thank my team and my panel of experts for their intensive collaboration over the past years, without which this report would not have been possible.
A special thanks, however, also goes out to my wife Zehra, who, as a Muslim, has been confronted with more racist hatred, insults, and threats since my assignment in 2018 than we ever thought possible. Thank you, dear Zehra, that you don’t let yourself be intimidated, for being here today, and for bravely following this path. Thank you!
Zehra Blume (first row, second from left) among Jewish friends at the Landtag of Baden-Württemberg, November 9th 2023. Screenshot: Michael Blume
Final words: I believe that I can speak for all of us – or almost all of us – when I say: We should not only hold on to a peaceful coexistence of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Yazidi, atheists and whichever religious community you consider yourself part of in Baden-Wurttemberg! We should expand and intensify our community! We only have a shared future.
That is why, we can collectively shout out to all anti-Semites here and now: This time we will not give in to your terror! We are united in the diversity of our religions and worldviews, genders, nations, and democratic parties! Conspiracy myths will not succeed in destroying our shared future as Democrats this time! Not this time!
Thank you. God bless you!