Fear in Berlin as Star of David scrawled at entrances of buildings where Jews reside

Israelis living in German city fearful of rising animosity, amid shows of pro-Palestinian support in wake of Hamas mass terror attack

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Hundreds of people gather in front of the synagogue at the Fraenkelufer as they attend a vigil in Berlin, Germany, October 13, 2023. (Markus Schreiber/AP)
Hundreds of people gather in front of the synagogue at the Fraenkelufer as they attend a vigil in Berlin, Germany, October 13, 2023. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

The Star of David symbol was daubed on residential buildings in Berlin where Jewish people live, German media reported over the weekend.

It was not clear how many graffiti incidents there were in total, but photographs of at least three targeted buildings were shared on social media.

Israelis living in the city reported a rise in attacks and animosity from pro-Palestinian supporters following the devastating terror assault by Hamas from the Gaza Strip last week that killed some 1,300 Israelis. The onslaught, alongside a massive rocket barrage, sparked war with Israel, which has carried out intensive airstrikes on the Palestinian enclave. Meanwhile, Hamas and other terror group have continued to shoot rockets at southern and central Israel.

German outlets noted that during the Holocaust, Nazis marked Jewish homes and properties with the Star of David.

In one case, a woman told Berliner Morgenpost that she found a Star of David on Thursday evening scrawled outside her building. She explained that the front door to her apartment inside the building has a mezuzah, a traditional Jewish talisman, on the outer doorpost.

The woman, who wears a Star of David pendant and posts pro-Israel information on social media, said she doesn’t know who daubed the Star of David symbol at the entrance as there were many possibilities, from neighbors to delivery people.

She also dismissed a suggestion by many of her German friends that the symbol was intended to show solidarity with Israel.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said she also took a look in the area around her home to see if there were other Stars of David painted but there were none, only on her building. At that point she contacted police whom she described as understanding but offering little help to prevent a repeat of the incident.

German police said they opened an investigation into the graffiti incidents, and security around Jewish community sites has been boosted.

Another woman, identified only as Yael, who has lived in Berlin for eight years, told the Israel Hayom outlet that she saw graffiti on a building near where she lives, on the route her son takes to school.

“It is a punch to the gut,” she said.

Yael said that ever since Hamas declared Friday as a “day of rage” in support of Palestinians. she has deliberated whether or not to send her children to their schools.

“But when I saw the Star of David, I kept them at home,” she said. “And my children are in a completely public system, they speak German, most of their friends are Germans, not Israelis.”

“We don’t live in a neighborhood where we tell the children to not speak Hebrew, but it has come to that.”

Yael said there have been several incidents of Hebrew speakers being threatened in the streets or spat on, and that Jewish schools have remained closed. Israeli restaurants have also shut, including one that is under joint Palestinian ownership.

Na’aman Hirschfeld, a high-tech entrepreneur living in Berlin since 2012, told Israel Hayom that the graffiti “certainly causes a general sense of persecution.”

Hirschfeld said there have already been incidents of assaults of Jews wearing a kippa since the war broke out on October 7 with the Hamas terror attack. Since then, he said, “there is a feeling of an earthquake. Firstly as Israelis, but also as immigrants here in Berlin.”

Hirschfeld said he lives close to an area where there is a large Arab community from Syria and Lebanon, as well as Palestinians.

“Until now there was successful coexistence. For example, I was never afraid for my children speaking Hebrew in the street, or identifying themselves as Israelis, even in a school with a high percentage of Muslims. But after the massacre, there were quite a few here who celebrated, and this provoked disgust, anger, and especially the feeling that there is no coexistence here.”

He noted that there were many people from the Arab community who did not participate in pro-Palestinian celebrations and there were “quite a few Arabs who expressed empathy” with Israelis.

“Still, there is a feeling of hostility,” he said, with some among the Jewish community feeling “very exposed and vulnerable. It seeps in.”

On Friday hundreds gathered outside Berlin’s synagogue on Fraenkelufer to show solidarity with Israel, but also to guard the building, the outlet reported.

Germany has offered military help to Israel and promised to crack down on support for the Hamas terror organization at home following the group’s attack on Israel.

Jewish groups in other locations have also reported a rise in antisemitic attacks since the Hamas attack, with a British group documentating a sharp spike in incidents.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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