Germany’s anti-Semitism commissioner on Monday called on Germans to wear kippas in public to show solidarity with Jews.
“I call on all citizens in Berlin and everywhere in Germany to wear the kippa on Saturday, when people will agitate unbearably against Israel and against Jews on Al-Quds Day,” Felix Klein said in an interview with the Funke media group.
Klein added that people should participate in pro-Israel rallies on that day instead, German outlet Deutsche Welle reported.
Al-Quds Day, so called for the Arabic name for Jerusalem, is marked by demonstrations throughout the Muslim world and in some European cities. The Iran-initiated annual day of worldwide protest usually features flags of the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah and sees calls for Israel’s destruction from speakers and activists.
Germany’s most-read tabloid, Bild, printed a cut-out kippa over the weekend for readers to wear in solidarity with their Jewish neighbors.
“If even one person in our country can’t wear a kippah without putting themselves in danger, the only answer is that we all wear a kippah,” Bild’s editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt tweeted on Sunday. “The kippah belongs to Germany! That’s why tomorrow the kippah will be printed for cutting out on page one.”
Klein caused an uproar in an interview published Friday in the Berliner Morgenpost in which he said that he could not recommend that Jews wear a kippa everywhere and any time in Germany.
Later, Klein said his statement that he “could no longer recommend that Jews wear the kippa everywhere in Germany should be taken as an alarm signal.”
Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel in an interview Monday with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour said that Germany has to “face up to the specters of its past.” Because of that past, she said, “we have to be more vigilant than others.”
“There has always been a certain number of anti-Semites among us, unfortunately,” she said.
“Unfortunately there is to this day not a single synagogue, not a single day care center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen.”
President Reuven Rivlin said Sunday the German anti-Semitism official’s comments “shocked me deeply.”
“We acknowledge and appreciate the moral position of the German government, and its commitment to the Jewish community that lives there, but fears about the security of German Jews are a capitulation to anti-Semitism and an admission that, again, Jews are not safe on German soil,” Rivlin said in a statement.
The current rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Germany jeopardizes the country’s social cohesion, Berlin’s ambassador to Tel Aviv said Tuesday, vowing to take the fight against Jew hatred “very seriously.”
Speaking to The Times of Israel in the wake of a renewed focus on the topic, which was triggered last week when a senior official in Berlin said he could not promise that Jews wearing skullcaps would be safe in every part of Germany, Ambassador Susanne Wasum-Rainer expressed regret at the fact that Jewish institutions still need protection.
“Jewish life is a part of Germany. We are glad and happy that after World War II, Jewish life was once again possible in Germany, and therefore the government considers a particularly great responsibility toward Jewish life in Germany,” she said.