I resist to the notion that the fate of my grandparents must serve as a justification for the fight against the Palestinians.

Judith Bernstein’s parents left Germany a few years after the Nazis came to power. Since emigration to the USA was denied to them, they fled to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine and settled down in Rehavia, a suburb outside Jerusalem, like many German Jews at the time. In the „garden city“ of Rehavia, Judith Bernstein was born in 1945 into a world shaped by the culture of its German-born residents, the Jeckes. Judith Bernstein was socialized into this German-Jewish society – and although her grandparents had been murdered in Auschwitz two years before her birth, she was strongly drawn to her parents’ old homeland. When she received a scholarship from the city of Munich, she came to Germany in 1966 to study. She experienced the Six-Day War in 1967 from the Bavarian capital, a conflict that would have far-reaching consequences for the thinking of many Israelis and thus for the policies of Israel. Judith Bernstein did return to Israel, where she married and in 1973 and 1976 gave birth to her daughters Sharon and Shelly, but eventually, she concluded that Israel had ceased to be appealing to her. At the end of 1976, she returned to Germany, this time permanently. – Judith Bernstein has now been living for decades in Munich, where through her involvement in the Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue Group she advocates for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence between Jews and Palestinians. Her late husband Reiner Bernstein also supported her in this cause. Judith Bernstein discusses the experiences she and Reiner had to face due to their activism in the following conversation.

Read an excerpt from my interview with Judith Bernstein here:

Judith Bernstein: Yes. – And I also resist the idea that the fate of my grandparents, for example, should now serve as a justification for the fight against the Palestinians. – I believe that my grandparents, they don’t have a grave, but if they had one, they would be turning in their grave! If they had known that their fate was being used as a pretext for this terrible fight against the Palestinians.

HMV: You mean, they would stand by your side?

Judith Bernstein: Yes! – I believe so. … So, I also find it outrageous on the part of Germany that this terrible history is being used for that. I mean, Israel does it all the time, Netanyahu constantly uses German history to argue against criticism of Israel.

HMV: What really horrifies me is this delegitimization of Israeli-critical, that is, left-liberal Jews who criticize Netanyahu and the policies of this Israeli government, by members of the German government. For me, it’s unimaginable, because actually you are the ones who represent the democratic tradition, in Israel or as Israelis. And for that, you are essentially being put in the stocks, labeled as anti-Israel, even though you are actually the democratic Israelis, and not the Orthodox, who refer to 5000-year-old land ownership mandates from a god.

Judith Bernstein: Yes, and I must also say, I cannot understand it when Mr. Schuster or Ms. Knobloch come up with the antisemitism allegation every time, because I think they do harm. And fundamentally, I cannot fathom it, they live in Germany, enjoy the freedoms here, enjoy what we still have, the democracy. – And there, what little is left of democracy should be fought against – that is, the Palestinians should be fought against. I can’t accept that! I mean, I can’t enjoy all the benefits of democracy here and then deny them to the Palestinians there. – I don’t understand the Jews here either, and with that, they harm themselves!

Read the full interview with Judith Bernstein here.