Berlin: A Wet Dog Is Better Than A Dry Jew

Berlin: A Wet Dog Is Better Than A Dry Jew

Via M&C:
As a teenager in Berlin, Arye Sharuz Shalicar was confronted with anti-Semitism on a daily basis.

At school he was called a 'bloody Jew' who 'deserved to die,' while youths on the streets threatened to beat him up because of his religious belief.

This was not 1930s Germany. Shalicar grew up in 1990s Berlin, in the predominantly Muslim district of Wedding, where the children of Turkish and Arabic immigrants engaged in gang warfare and the Berlin Wall was simply another surface to spray graffiti on.

The 33-year-old now lives in Israel, where he is an army spokesman. Last week, he returned on a rare visit to Germany, where his book has just been published, documenting his violent teenage years in inner city Berlin.

He said he still felt uneasy as he returned to the streets of his youth, where he was taunted daily until he earned respect as a gang member.

'There are corners where you don't see a single German. I still don't feel comfortable in Wedding,' Shalicar said.


'Until I moved to Wedding, my Jewish identity did not interest me one bit,' he said. 'It's shameful really, how little I wanted to see that this was my destiny too. I thought we were living in a modern world where other things matter - I guess I was wrong.'

When his Jewish identity came to the fore, his many Muslim friends and classmates disowned him and Shalicar risked attacks on his path home from school. He was faced with a choice: live a life of evasion and shame, or fight back.

'The fear I experienced, at the age of 14 or 15, is beyond words. It was a daily panic: what can I do to simply walk the street in peace in my own neighbourhood?' Shalicar said.


'In Wedding, I met Muslims who were good to me and Muslims who were very bad to me,' he noted.

They included people who loved and defended him, irrespective of race or religion. But he also met 'real fanatics, who were raised wrongly and live in the wrong environment and carry this hatred within them.'

'If you experience both extremes, then I think you understand how life really works, because these poles exist in every society,' Shalicar said.