Dr. Simon Erlanger

Simon Erlanger is a journalist and historian. He was born in Switzerland in 1965 and educated in Basel and Jerusalem. A former employee of the Yad Vashem Archives in Jerusalem, he presently teaches Jewish history at the University of Lucerne. He also works as an editor for Telebasel, a television station for northwestern Switzerland.

Publications by Dr. Simon Erlanger

Swiss Jewry: Between Continuity and Decline

INTRODUCTION In 2010,1 after 146 years2 of continuous existence, the Jewish community of Lucerne seemed to be on the verge of disappearance.3 There were only sixty, mostly elderly members. Hugo Benjamin, head of Lucerne’s Jewish community, announced to the media: […] Read More »

A Special Case? Direct Swiss Democracy, the European Debate on Islam, and the Diminishing Political Stature of Swiss Jewry

No. 115, 1 February 2012/ 7 Shevat, 5772 For some time now Switzerland has been at the forefront of the European debate on Islam, Islamism, and Islamization. The country is thereby abandoning its traditional approach of safeguarding its neutrality, staying […] Read More »

The Controversy on the Lost Jewish Accounts in Swiss Banks and Its Aftermath

The affair of the dormant, or lost, Jewish accounts in Swiss banks is still seen today by a large part of the Swiss population not as an attempt to achieve historic justice, but as an outright attack not only on Swiss banking but on Swiss identity and on Switzerland as a whole. The notion of "Jewish blackmail" is still rampant. Read More »

Real, Imaginary, and Symbolic Roles of Jews in Swiss Society

Numbering just under eighteen thousand, Jews constitute a tiny fragment of Switzerland’s population of 7.7 million. Nevertheless, Swiss public discourse is preoccupied with things Jewish. This goes back at least as far as the first centralized Swiss state. The Helvetic Republic, founded in 1798, fell apart largely over the issue of Jewish emancipation. This issue remained at the very center of the Swiss political discourse up to 1868 when, under U.S. and French pressure, Switzerland granted equ Read More »

“The Anti-Germans” – The Pro-Israel German Left

It is no secret that the German left’s outlook today is, and has been for some time, predominantly anti-Israel and anti-American. Far less well-known is the existence of a small but influential pro-Israel movement within the German left, a movement which challenges the existing anti-Israel consensus. The Anti-German Movement, as it is known, grew out of a communist student organization. In 1989 it finally emerged as a movement in its own right in opposition to German reunification. Read More »

Muslims and Jews in Switzerland

There has so far been no openly anti-Jewish mass movement among Muslims. Kurds, Turks, and Bosnians tend to be more secular and friendlier toward Jews than Arabs from North Africa and the Middle East. Certain Muslim groups want to learn from the established Jewish community how to gain legal, political, and social acceptance in Switzerland. Muslims have not been the driving force behind the Swiss version of the new Europe-wide anti-Semitism. However, there is a growing radicalization of disaffec Read More »

Simon Erlanger on Insel der Aufklärung: Israel im Kontext, vol. 3, Schriften zur politischen Bildung, Kultur und Kommunikation (Island of Enlightenment: Israel in Context, vol. 3, Papers on Political

Israel in Context
Insel der Aufklärung: Israel im Kontext, vol. 3, Schriften zur politischen Bildung, Kultur und Kommunikation (Island of Enlightenment: Israel in Context, vol. 3, Papers on Political Education, Culture and Communication), edited by Alexandra Kurth, Netzwerk für politische Bildung, Kultur und Kommunikation (NBKK), 2005, 232 pp.
Reviewed by Simon Erlanger Read More »

Is There a Future for Jews in Switzerland?

Swiss Jewry seems to be set for steady decline. There are today some eighteen thousand Jews in Switzerland—the same number as in 1900, whereas the general population has doubled since then. Assimilation and emigration, mainly to Israel, have reduced the Jewish population.

Jewish numbers were never high in Switzerland although many Jewish communities existed there in the Middle Ages. A pattern began in 1348 when many cities in the territories of what was to become the Swiss Confederacy murder Read More »

Simon Erlanger on Hurra, wir kapitulieren: Von der Lust am Einknicken

Europe and Appeasement
Hurra, wir kapitulieren: Von der Lust am Einknicken (Hurray, We’re Capitulating: On the Desire for Appeasement), by Henryk M. Broder, Wjs Verlag, 2006, 197 pp. [German]
Reviewed by Simon Erlanger Read More »

The Politics of “Transmigration”: Why Jewish Refugees had to Leave Switzerland from 1944 to 1954

The effort to prevent Jewish immigration was central to the Swiss authorities long before the rise of Nazism in Germany and the resultant waves of refugees who reached the Swiss borders in the 1930s and 1940s. Special regulations were enacted to prevent "foreign infiltration," making it increasingly difficult for Jews to settle in Switzerland. Instead, the aim of Swiss policy was "transmigration" or onward migration; permanent asylum was to be denied. Read More »