A 53-year-old Jewish man was hospitalized after being beaten on the head by four men on a Berlin street Tuesday night in what seems to have been an anti-Semitic attack.
The man, who was wearing a skullcap, was walking in the German capital’s Tempelhof-Schöneberg district with his 6-year-old daughter when a youth approached him with the question, “Are you a Jew?”, according to Berlin police.
Three other young men joined the attacker and started hitting the Jewish man several times, injuring him on the head. “This was followed by insults against the man, his faith and his mother, and death threats toward his daughter,” according to the police report. All four men were probably of Arab descent, police stated.
The attackers escaped unrecognized, but police said Wednesday that they assume the attack was motivated by anti-Semitism and that they are investigating the case.
According to German-Jewish weekly Juedische Allgemeine, the victim was a rabbi living in Berlin.
Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit condemned the incident. “Berlin is an open city in which intolerance, xenophobia and anti-Semitism are not tolerated,” he told Juedische Allgemeine.
‘It is not just an evil attack on Jewry in Germany but an attack against all of us, and against our common values of tolerance and liberalism’
Jewish groups in Germany and abroad condemned the attack.
“This despicable attack on Jews in the middle of our capital is outrageous and shocking,” said the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, “It is not just an evil attack on Jewry in Germany but an attack against all of us, and against our common values of tolerance and liberalism. It must not be downplayed under any circumstances. We Jews won’t be intimidated by such disgusting attacks. We will continue to build our Jewish future in this country openly, passionately and with self-confidence.”
European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said that after the murder of four Jews in Toulouse, France, in March, he had expected that either of two things would occur: “On the one hand it could have sent shock waves across Europe that there is a massive problem and it has to be dealt with, leading to a lessoning of these types of attacks. The other option was that the reaction would be meager and it would send a message to extremists that life continues as normal.”
“Unfortunately,” Kantor continued, “the second option seems to have prevailed. Life goes on in Europe after such events as the Toulouse murders, but for the Jewish community life does not return to normal. The murders created a gaping wound in our communal psyche which is widened with every additional attack and the lack of a clear, concerted and institutional response means that it will not heal.”