German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman on Monday stressed the country’s responsibility to ensure security for all Jews wearing kippahs anywhere in the country without having to fear an anti-Semitic attack.
“It’s the job of the state to ensure that anybody can move around securely with a skullcap in any place of our country,” Steffen Seibert said.
The comments came after the government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, said he wouldn’t advise Jews to wear the traditional Jewish head-covering in parts of the country.
Felix Klein said his “opinion has unfortunately changed compared with what it used to be” on the matter. He said: “I cannot recommend to Jews that they wear the skullcap at all times everywhere in Germany.” He did not elaborate on what places and times might pose a danger.
Government statistics released earlier this month showed that the number of anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner incidents rose in Germany last year, despite an overall drop in politically motivated crimes.
On Monday, Bild, Germany’s largest newspaper, printed a Jewish skullcap on the front page so that Germans can cut it out and wear it in solidarity with the local Jewish community.
Wenn auch nur einer in unserem Land nicht Kippa tragen kann, ohne sich in Gefahr zu bringen, kann die Antwort nur lauten, dass wir alle Kippa tragen.
Die Kippa gehört zu Deutschland!
— Julian Reichelt (@jreichelt) May 26, 2019
“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.”
He called Klein’s position “shocking.”
Israel’s 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.