03 November 2023

Commitment Pressure

Make a guess: Who is the source of the following quote?

Muslims living here are entitled to protection from right-wing extremist violence – and rightly so. When they are attacked, their right to protection must be honoured and they must also honour this right of the Jews now that the Jews have been attacked. They must clearly distance themselves from anti-Semitism so as not to undermine their own right to tolerance.

It’s an interesting argument, though, isn’t it? The claim to protection from right-wing extremist violence of “Muslims living here” is placed in a strangely ambiguous nexus with the fulfilment of a counter-claim. They have to do something in order not to jeopardise their own right to tolerance, if not protection. They, the “Muslims living here”, do not naturally belong to the national Schicksalsgemeinschaft of the heirs of both sides of the Holocaust, remaining forever a little suspicious, their commitment to the German raison d’état always a little dubious. Which is why they have to convince us of their sincerity. They have to commit themselves. Not just dutifully, fingers crossed behind their backs, not obscured by any clever post-colonial contexts, but without ifs and buts, klipp und klar (clearly and unequivocally), as the German original text puts it. Anyone who does not fulfil this claim, who still leaves room for doubt and questions, “undermines” their “own right to tolerance”.

To solve the riddle: The quote is from Robert Habeck’s much acclaimed “Israel and anti-Semitism” video speech. The Green Vice-Chancellor set out to untangle the debate, and his speech does indeed provide liberating clarity about the fact that Jewish life in Germany must be given all the protection it needs. To be honest, however, the passage quoted does not seem to me to untangle much at all, quite the contrary.

I am fully aware that there are a large number of hard-core anti-Semites among the “Muslims living here” and that they pose an intolerable threat to the safety of Jews, not only in Germany. The same is true of much of the finger-pointing to Israel, which is actually meant to relativise or even legitimise terrorism and is understood as such. I am equally aware that there were and are quite a few among the many German Islamic organisations, whose representativeness is notoriously dubious, who proved unwilling to explicitly condemn the terror of Hamas. I know all that.

What Habeck is calling on Muslims to do, though, is not just to distance themselves from Hamas and other terrorist acts or from any specific acts at all, but from anti-Semitism as such, and to do so klipp und klar, despite the highly controversial nature of this term, especially when it comes to Israel-related anti-Semitism: Commit yourself! Away with all ambiguity! Take away our doubt as to which side you are on, if you don’t want to undermine your right to our tolerance!

It is the Vice-Chancellor who is articulating this demand. It is the state. He is calling on the Muslims, the migrants, to declare themselves clearly and unequivocally in favour of his raison d’état. But they can never quite satisfy that demand. When is a commitment klipp und klar enough? Aren’t there still some explicit or implicit reservations lingering? Are they just pretending perhaps, to earn their right to our tolerance? Do they really mean it? There is always some residual doubt about the loyalty of these migrants, who are not addressed as fellow citizens but only as “Muslims living here”. And that doubt is quite useful, too, because it allows those who belong by virtue of their joint fate to feel all the closer, more homogeneous and more certain of their identity.

I wonder, though. In a country whose Vice-Chancellor, to the jubilant applause of the vast majority of public opinion, uses this line of argument against a vulnerable minority – how safe can Jews actually feel?


The School of Law & Social Justice at the University of Liverpool is seeking to appoint a number of Part-Time (0.2fte) Chairs in Global Justice who will develop synergies with colleagues in the School, with the aim of promoting international research culture and enhancing the School’s global standing. Job Ref: 068026. Applications via this link. Deadline 15 November 2023.

For informal inquiries please contact Professor Valsamis Mitsilegas, Dean of the School of Law & Social Justice at V.Mitsilegas@liverpool.ac.uk


The week on Verfassungsblog

DÁNIEL KARSAI is a Hungarian human rights lawyer who suffers from ALS, an incurable disease that leads to complete muscle paralysis and ultimately death by asphyxiation. In Hungary, there is no legal possibility at home or abroad to end one’s life in a self-determined manner. Karzai has taken legal action against this before the European Court of Human Rights. His blog post, in which he outlines his arguments, is one of the most impressive texts I have read in a long time.

A newly elected AfD member of parliament in Bavaria was arrested shortly before the state parliament was due to convene. KYRILL-ALEXANDER SCHWARZ examines the dubious understanding of the state that the AfD displayed in its attempt to take legal action against this.

In the wake of the Schlesinger affair, Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg is having its state treaty amended. TOBIAS MAST and WOLFGANG SCHULZ report on serious legal shortcomings of the draft treaty.

Does the seizure of confidential interviews with imprisoned Islamists by the public prosecutor’s office violate the fundamental right to freedom of research? The Munich Higher Regional Court was unable to recognise a violation in 2020. The Federal Constitutional Court has now rejected the researcher’s complaint as inadmissible, but has nevertheless made clear that this is no way to deal with freedom of research. KIRA KOETHE comments.

30 years ago, the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act was enacted as a spin-off from general social law. Special law contrary to equality? FREDERIC VON HARBOU sees good reasons why this is the case and always has been.

The fact that there is an “enforcement deficit” in migration law in view of the high number of foreigners obliged to leave the country is much lamented. If the unilateral, sovereign enforcement of migration law does not work, why not try more co-operative means? JONAS WIESCHOLLEK suggests how the deficit could be remedied through individual integration agreements with migrants.

Part of the EU’s support for Ukraine is also dedicated to strengthening the rule of law structures, and RAPHAEL OIDTMANN sheds light on what these are.

MALGORZATA KOZAK comments on the current EU legislation on the regulation of political advertising against the backdrop of the elections in Poland.

Once the change of power in Poland is complete, the reason for the Article 7 procedure because  of the dismantling of the rule of law will sooner or later go away. How to get out of these proceedings? CHRISTIAN BREITLER and LORIN-JOHANNES WAGNER take a closer look.

In Turkey, more than 100,000 people have been prosecuted in recent years in connection with an app on their mobile phones used by the Gülen movement, which was allegedly behind the 2016 coup. The European Court of Human Rights has now ruled that this violates the Convention. ALI YILDIZ is happy about the judgement, but not quite satisfied with the reasoning.

Indonesia’s once highly respected Constitutional Court had reasons to fear for its credibility ever since its Chief Jusice married the President’s daughter. Now a judgement that the minimum age for the presidency of 40 is unconstitutional, allowing the 36-year-old son of the President to run for the office of VP, is fuelling new doubts about the court’s independence. MOHAMMAD IBRAHIM analyses the decision.

Finally: the blog symposium on the regulation of sex work in Germany continues with contributions from RONJA WESTERMEYER, MARGARETE VON GALEN, SHARI GAFFRON, TERESA KATHARINA HARRER and NIKOLAUS EISENTRAUT.

That’s all for today. See you next week! Chin up, and all the best

Max Steinbeis

SUGGESTED CITATION  Steinbeis, Maximilian: Commitment Pressure, VerfBlog, 2023/11/03, https://verfassungsblog.de/commitment-pressure/, DOI: 10.59704/8bb53ba450842571.

Leave A Comment


1. We welcome your comments but you do so as our guest. Please note that we will exercise our property rights to make sure that Verfassungsblog remains a safe and attractive place for everyone. Your comment will not appear immediately but will be moderated by us. Just as with posts, we make a choice. That means not all submitted comments will be published.

2. We expect comments to be matter-of-fact, on-topic and free of sarcasm, innuendo and ad personam arguments.

3. Racist, sexist and otherwise discriminatory comments will not be published.

4. Comments under pseudonym are allowed but a valid email address is obligatory. The use of more than one pseudonym is not allowed.