In Conversation: Hanna Esther Veiler, President of the Jewish Student Union Germany, Author and political Educator

As president of the Jewish Student Union of Germany - where do you currently see your tasks and challenges?

In these difficult times, we face many challenges. On the one hand, it is particularly important to be a loud and self-confident young Jewish voice,to symbolize to society as a whole, that we will not give up and will continue our work despite everything, but also to show Jewish students that we are still approachable and will stand up for their rights. In addition, we have an educational mission. We need to educate more than ever about Israel-related anti-Semitism, as well as about the dangers to our democracy posed by terrorism, Islamist ideology, and disinformation.

Finally, it is precisely our main concern to create structures that can help Jewish students in these difficult times. The approaches to this are multifaceted and range from creating spaces, where one can distract oneself and be in good company, to political work, to referring to psychological support services.


How is the situation for Jewish students in Germany since the terroristic attacks by the Hamas against Israel?

Jewish students were already a particularly vulnerable group on campus before the Hamas massacres on October 7. Since October 7, as was to be expected, the situation has worsened massively. We receive messages every day from students who do not feel safe on campus and are subjected to anti-Semitic attacks. In addition, students often feel that there are no places they can turn to, as anti-discrimination institutions often lack competence when it comes to anti-Semitism and are overwhelmed.


What do you expect from German politics and public?

Every year on January 27, we hear anew that Jews in Germany must never again be allowed to live in fear. Jewish organizations have been calling for bans on anti-Semitic organizations for years. Only now the conversation about this is coming up. We must finally start to act. In addition, society as a whole must understand that Hamas' ideology is not only a threat to Jews, but to democracies and the free basic order in general. As long as we act as if this were a problem for Jews alone, we will not be able to find long-term solutions.

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