Antisemitism in Germany increased by 320% after Oct. 7, report finds

Watchdog says signs of Jewish life in Germany becoming less visible as people refrain from wearing identifiable symbols, speaking Hebrew in public

At a rally for Israel in Munich, a participant holds a sign reading "You are not alone. No tolerance for antisemitism," Nov. 26, 2023. (JTA/Stefan Puchner/picture alliance via Getty Images)
At a rally for Israel in Munich, a participant holds a sign reading "You are not alone. No tolerance for antisemitism," Nov. 26, 2023. (JTA/Stefan Puchner/picture alliance via Getty Images)

JTA — Germany has seen antisemitic incidents surge 320% since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, according to a federal agency’s report released on Tuesday.

The Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism, known in Germany as RIAS, tracked 994 antisemitic incidents between October 7 and November 9, 2023. That average of 29 cases per day exceeds last year’s RIAS tally during the same period by more than 300%.

The group recorded three cases of “extreme violence,” which it defines as attacks that can result in a loss of life or serious bodily harm, whether successfully committed or attempted. One such incident occurred on October 18 in Berlin, when two Molotov cocktails were thrown at a Jewish community center that houses a synagogue as well as a kindergarten.

The report also listed 29 attacks, 72 incidents of targeted damage to property, 32 threats, four antisemitic mass mailings and 854 cases of offensive behavior over the month-long period.

While the largest number of incidents took place on the street, online, or in public buildings, RIAS recorded 59 in people’s homes or living environments. These cases left a particularly marked impact on residents who felt they could no longer retreat to a safe refuge, said RIAS.

In one instance, an Israeli national was accosted by two men for hanging an Israeli flag on his balcony. When he refused to remove it, they forcefully entered his apartment, took the flag and punched him in the face.

Other buildings that house Jewish people have been marked with Stars of David and swastikas.

In response to the wave of attacks, some are hiding their identity. RIAS said that Jewish life is becoming less visible in Germany, as Jews refrain from wearing identifiable symbols and speaking Hebrew in public.

A police officer guards at the entrance of the building complex of the Kahal Adass Jisroel community, which houses a synagogue, a kindergarten and a community center, in the center of Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, November 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Germany’s unique relationship with Israel is tied to its 20th century genocide of the Jews, which weighs heavily on the state’s identity.

Following the October 7 Hamas attacks, in which thousands of terrorists rampaged across southern Israel, killing more than 1,200 people and taking some 240 hostages, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described the security of Israel in an address to the Bundestag as Germany’s “reason of state.”

State authorities have cited this obligation in their crackdowns on pro-Palestinian demonstrations, as public pressure boils over the war in Gaza and the rising civilian death toll.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has stated that more than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, although this number cannot be independently verified and is believed to include members of Hamas and other terror groups.

Some areas in Germany have banned rallies and public statements in solidarity with Palestinians. In Berlin, education senator Katharina Guenther-Wuensch authorized schools to ban the keffiyeh scarf and the phrase “Free Palestine.”

Some prominent Jewish figures in Germany have decried these clampdowns as counterproductive, including “Unorthodox” author Deborah Feldman.

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