In my review of The Baader-Meinhof Complex, I mentioned the difficult issue of the West German New Left’s anti-Semitism. A few people wrote back asking for more information. Meanwhile, one of the comments to the post from Terrence O’Keefe, said “the psychology operating behind the West German Left’s transition from the attractive but always vague “pro-peace” position to one of aggressive anti-Israelism is fairly simple.” I’m not sure its quite as simple as all that, and I wanted to say why.
This transition grew out of a legitimate anti-Zionism that began after the Six Day War in June 1967, which began three days after the killing by the West Berlin police of the student Benno Ohnesorg, the seminal event with which the Baader-Meinhof Complex begins. Until the Six Day War, the nascent West German student movement had generally seen itself as linkszionistisch, or “left-wing Zionist”. But in the summer of 1967, as the student movement radicalised, it also began to see Israel as a bridgehead of American imperialism in the middle east. Just as it had identified with the Vietcong (in the movie we see the famous Vietnam congress in West Berlin in February 1968 and hear the chants of “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh!”), the West German student movement quickly began to identify with armed Palestinian groups. But, over the next couple of years, what had begun as anti-Zionism developed into what, I think, can only be described as anti-Semitism.
On November 9, 1969 –