Anti-Semitism: German Streets are Dangerous for Jews

Eastern European Jews mainly from the former USSR who immigrated to Germany found it to be a relatively safe place. The German government tried to keep the streets sterile of any public display of anti-Semitism. The shameful history of Germany wouldn’t allow them to permit this. A ‘Heil Hitler’ salute with a raised arm in public is a crime punishable with imprisonment. So is Holocaust denial. In addition, Holocaust history is taught comprehensively in German schools.

However Chancellor Merkel threw the doors of her country open to over a million Muslim refugees which created a new double danger to the Jewish community in Germany 120,000 strong. On one hand these newcomers are rabidly anti-Semitic. On the other hand the extreme-right which is gaining in popularity as a reaction to these immigrants is also anti-Semitic. This phenomenon is true in other European countries that accepted Muslim immigrants like France, Belgium, Sweden and Austria.

The German Jewish community was especially alarmed last week when thousands of Muslim protesters took to Berlin streets and burned Israeli flags in protest of Trump’s declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital. “I never thought I’d see this on a street in Berlin. This is something you would see in other parts of the world,” said a Jew that moved to Germany 30 years ago to USA Today. “We feel threatened.”

Israeli flag burning is just one of many anti-Semitic incidents in Germany in recent years.  Last month 12 Holocaust memorial plaques disappeared from Berlin streets and the German army reported finding Nazi symbols in army bases. In 2016 there were 1468 anti-Semitic incidents which is up from previous years. Statistics for 2017 show that 62% of Western German Jews say they personally experienced anti-Semitism.

The Jewish community in Germany is doing what it can to fight this new threat. There is a new Fight Anti-Semitism initiative and the Jewish community wants to require students to learn about the Holocaust and visit concentration camps. But Jewish efforts won’t be enough. The government must intervene and the Muslim community must also denounce it.  Rabbi Daniel Fabian the rabbi of Kahal Adath Yeshurun in berlin sums it up: “We can’t be the only ones reminding everyone all the time to look at what’s happening right under their noses.”


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