Anti-Semitism Returns to Germany

By Chloé Sehati

Next year will mark fifty years of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel. However, this past summer marked the most reported anti-Semitic incidents in Germany since World War II. Given this, we’re left with one question: When will it stop?

The influx of anti-Semitic actions—violent, vocal, and united by hundreds on the streets of Germany—peaked during this past summer’s Operation Protective Edge.

This Israeli military operation was largely
in response to the kidnapping of three Israeli objects turned out
teenagers. On June 19th, at a “Bring Back Our to be none other
Boys” rally—in support of the teenagers—there than Molotov conflated with anti-Zionism was an attack on pro-Israel Germans. One striking cocktails, or fire incident, in particular, involved an 83-year-old man being thrown to the ground by a “counter- demonstrator”. His daughter tried to protect him; the attacker proceeded to verbally and physically assault her as well.

The JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)’s write- up, “Pro-Palestinian Rally in Berlin Features anti- Semitic Chants”, covered a particularly disturbing protest that took place in July on the streets of Berlin. With Israel’s Operation Protective Edge underway, many German citizens angrily protested in a large crowd, chanting, “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come on out and fight!”

Both this pro-Palestinian rally and a “We Stand with Israel” rally took place at the same time. Notably, German hate speech laws do not protect against proclamations such as “Hitler was right” or “Death to the Jews.”

Over summer, anti-Semitism in Germany went even further. On the evening of July 22nd, at approximately 2am, police received a report of burning objects in the street next to New Wuppertal Synagogue.

These burning objects turned out to be none other than Molotov Cocktails, or fire bombs, which were thrown at the synogogue causing damage to the side of the building. There were three men found on camera, one arrested at the scene; all were listed as Palestinians, one being from Gaza.

Moreover, just a day before the firebomb incident, a “masked thug” was arrested at the same synagogue after spraying anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls. Due to incidents like these, the members of the synagogue were forced to implement new safety precautions—namely employing new security around the clock.

Anti-Semitic acts in Germany rolled into September. The New York Times described an incident in which Jews who gathered to dedicate a plaque at a Holocaust memorial were disturbed by several “youths” throwing stones and bottles at them. The disturbances didn’t cease until the police arrived; many Jews were left in fear.

The legacy of anti-Semitism in Germany is tragic; it would be a relief to believe that that this darkness is part of the past. But summer’s hate- incidents included 184 reported anti-Semitic episodes in June and July alone.

Reports read that Jews were attacked on the streets of Berlin for wearing kippot, or yarmulkes— many tried to minimize how often they’d wear Jewish symbols in public. When civilians cannot feel safe to freely express themselves in society, the severity of the situation should not be taken lightly.

As Benjamin Weinthal notes in Foreign Policy, there have been several executive efforts to fight the growing anti-Semitism. Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, set-up a rally with the Central Council of Jews, titled, “Stand-up: Jew-Hatred- Never-Again!” Germany has also provided funding for the rebuilding of synagogues and Jewish communities since the Holocaust.

Merkel has remained active in attempts to fight and spread awareness of this issue. Another valuable character has been Israel’s Ambassador to Germany, Yakov Hadas. Over summer, Hadas claimed that the German government established funds that contributed to anti-Israel activity.

Illustrated by Rose Teplitz

Illustrated by Rose Teplitz

In The Wall Street Journal’s article, “Europe’s Alarming New Anti-Semitism”, Jonathan Sacks outlines the three distinct evolutionary changes of anti-Semitism.

First, Jews were despised solely for their religion. Then, Jews were discriminated against as a race. Presently, anti-Semitism has taken on a more subtle tone, revolving around a strong aversion toward the Jewish state of Israel. Anti-Semitism is increasingly being conflated with anti-Zionism.

Sacks insists that anti-Semitism is a problem for the entirety of Europe. While some are now masking their Jewish identities in public, others are fleeing—again. In line with this, Sacks cites a 2013 survey in which the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights concluded that almost one-third of Europe’s Jews have at least considered emigrating—due to rising anti-Semitism.

An article in the New York Times concludes that Germany’s situation is particularly significant: “Nowhere in Europe has the postwar imperative to fight anti-Semitism been more complete—and more intertwined with national redemption—than in Germany.”

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