This week on Foreign Correspondent Eric Campbell goes inside Berlin’s Jewish diaspora in his report, “Homeland,” and asks why so many Israeli’s are settling in Germany.
Why choose to live in the place where your people’s extermination was conceived, planned and directed?
It’s the question facing the 13,000 or so Israelis who have started new lives in Berlin – and who, if Hitler had had his way, may never have lived at all.
It’s a bit like dancing on his grave – and I like dancing. So why not? – Shirah Roth, Israeli comedian
Israelis in Berlin are now among the world’s fastest growing Jewish populations, to the dismay of some compatriots who sense a betrayal. But these mostly young Jews aren’t forgetting history. Holocaust reminders – memorials and Nazi-era architecture – are all over Berlin.
Creepy is part of life. To see life actually growing out of this death, that’s fantastic – Shirah Roth
For young creatives like Shirah or musician-journalist Ofer Waldman, the magnet is Berlin’s chic arts scene, its cultural medley and free thinking. As an early arrival in 1999, Waldman stood out.
It was like, ‘You’re a Jew?’ It’s like, “Oh my God, we’ve never seen a living one’ – Ofer Waldman
Waldman runs a group that promotes equality with Arabs. He realises he is a beneficiary of Germany’s lingering guilt.
Being a Jewish Israeli here, we have a louder voice because of the past. That’s a privilege – Ofer Waldman
Berlin’s Jews do face a rise in European anti-Semitism, which has spurred Germany to introduce tough new laws against hate speech. But fears of hate crime are, for many, outweighed by a weariness of life in Israel – its perpetual war footing, cost of living or social expectations.
It’s back in Israel where reporter Eric Campbell finds Avi Binyamin, 32, who grew up in an ultra-Orthodox family.
I was supposed to be a rabbi by now, with five or 10 children – Avi Binyamin
Instead he went secular and became a gym instructor. Now he is packing his bags for Berlin. He looks forward to a more open-minded society.
Even if we are forced to live by the sword here in Israel… I’d want us to educate our children that it’s not the default position, that there are also other ways – Avi Binyamin
Avi’s Israeli girlfriend has already settled in Berlin and awaits him there. His little brother will follow him soon.
8pm Tuesday on ABC.