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The Internationalist
October 2019

Mobilize Workers Power to Stop Fascist/Anti-Semitic Terror!

Halle Was an Attempted
Fascist Massacre

The Targets: Jews, Muslims, Leftists, Women

Internationalistische Gruppe at #Unteilbar (indivisible) demo in Berlin, October 13.  (Photo: Permanente Revolution)

BERLIN, October 13 – On October 9, dozens of people gathered in a synagogue in Halle, in the eastern German federal state of Sachsen-Anhalt, to observe the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur narrowly escaped being massacred by a fascist gunman in an anti-Semitic attack. This individual was unable to break into the synagogue because of its armored doors, and his self-produced weapons proved unreliable. But he was able to shoot and kill a woman passing by, and then proceeded to a kebab takeout store, where he shot down a male customer after trying to bomb the store. After wounding two more people during his flight, he was ultimately arrested.

This was the latest in a series of atrocities which have cut a bloody swathe around the world and followed the same pattern: the indiscriminate terror attack on Latinos in El Paso, Texas in August, the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand in March, the Tree of Life Synagogue murders in Pittsburgh in October 2018 and ultimately going back at least to the slaughter in Norway in July 2011. The Halle attack was live-streamed: each time, the perpetrators have provided manifestos or declarations motivating their heinous acts.

In this case, the would-be mass murderer vowed to “kill as many anti-whites as possible, Jews preferred.” According to his manifesto, he had originally considered targeting a mosque or an “antifa” meeting point, but ultimately decided that striking a synagogue on Yom Kippur would provide a maximum of potential victims. He not only blamed “the Jews” for mass immigration (of Muslims), but also for “feminism” which he vituperated against for reducing the (white) birthrate.

Although police quickly declared that the killer acted alone, the case was swiftly transferred to the chief federal prosecutor on the grounds that the killings were “a threat to the state” (staatsgefährdend). The local Sachsen-Anhalt police seemed mainly interested in justifying their absence from the synagogue even though the Jewish community had requested their presence during the High Holidays.

Since the killings, the media have exclusively labeled the attack as “anti-Semitic,” which it certainly was, while ignoring the killer’s extensive enemies list. Neither victim was Jewish; they were people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The killer announced his attack on the kebab shop with an anti-immigrant slur. Just as the first person killed was a victim of anti-Semitic terror, the second was a victim of anti-immigrant racism, perpetrated by an all-round fascist.

In the guise of opposing anti-Semitism, the prime-minister of Sachsen-Anhalt, Haseloff, announced he was consulting the Israeli ambassador, since the Israelis have “experience with radicalized individual perpetrators.” It takes place against the backdrop of the designation of the “BDS” Israel boycott movement as anti-Semitic by the federal parliamentary majority in May – an invitation to yet another witch hunt equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

These days in Germany any criticism of the criminal repression of Palestinians by the Zionist state is labeled “hatred of Jews,” with rightist Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and his ambassadors as arbiters of who and what is “anti-Semitic.” This reached the point this past June that the director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin was denounced by the Israeli ambassador and forced to resign for tweeting an article about a petition of 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars who signed a petition opposing the parliament’s witch-hunting anti-BDS motion.

Meanwhile, the racist claptrap about a supposed “replacement” of Europeans by non-white immigrants, for which “the Jews” (in particular George Soros) are held responsible, has long since spread into “respectable” conservative circles. And the upsurge in genuinely anti-Semitic incidents on the streets as well as actions by “lone wolves” are being egged on by racist propaganda, including tropes common to fascists and conservatives and propagated by sections of the “mainstream” media.

The electoral successes of the fascistic Alternative for Germany (AfD) provide political cover for full-blown anti-immigrant pogroms like that in Chemnitz last year, which included an attack on a Jewish restaurant. This time, not only did Germany just narrowly avoid a slaughter which could have claimed more victims than the fascist bombing in Munich in 1980, fascist terror had already taken on a new quality with the murder of Walter Lübcke, a Christian Democratic politician.

The murders in Halle were naturally used by federal interior minister Martin Seehofer to demand, yet again, more police and more billions to pay and equip those cops. But in light of the continuing scandals about fascist nests in both the army and police (NSU 2.0), and the endless examples of deliberate blindness to fascist organizing shown by the state, to call on this same bourgeois state for protection against the fascists is suicidal. Yet the reformist left has no other recourse than to vainly cry out “state, help! intervene!” as the social democrats did up to 1933.

The upsurge in reactionary, anti-immigrant “populist,” violent racist and outright fascist movements and attacks is an international phenomenon. It is a byproduct of the ongoing capitalist economic crisis, the depression that began in 2007-08 and whose effects continue to be felt today, including mass unemployment, stagnant and falling wages, and the destruction of public services and social welfare programs. While its industrial export drive is failing, the German bourgeoisie is determined to make the working class bear the burden of the crisis. It cynically fans hysteria about “crime” to justify reinforcing its repressive apparatus. Hence the convergence of the bourgeois “center” parties with the program of the AfD.

The massive fortification of every synagogue in Germany – or every mosque, for that matter –is hardly a lasting solution. The fascists must be defeated. This is a political struggle, which begins with the realization that an injury to one is an injury to all – whether Jew or Muslim. The October 13 popular-front #unteilbar demonstration in Berlin against the anti-Semitic attack in Halle calls to “Give no quarter: Kill anti-Semitism and Racism.” Meaning what, exactly? Such “common expressions of sorrow, rage and sympathy” won’t stop the fascists.

Nor will they be stopped by writing off the fascists as merely “right-wing,” a “shift to the right,” as the opportunist left does in seeking to make a popular front with social democrats and bourgeois liberals. Given the need for solidarity between all the targets of racist reaction, there should have been a massive working-class counter-mobilization against the “right-to-life” crowd this past September 22 in Berlin, as there should be to stop the fascist provocations that have been announced for November 9, the anniversary of the 1938 Kristallnacht anti-Jewish pogrom.

The multiethnic working class in Germany is being ground down, yet its power is intact. The key is leadership. What’s needed is a mass mobilization of workers power to crush the fascists, their uniformed protectors and their capitalist sponsors, part of a struggle to build a workers party that fights for international socialist revolution to bring down the bloody rule of capital and sweep away its enforcers. ■