Germany warns of spike in anti-Semitism linked to virus
search

Germany warns of spike in anti-Semitism linked to virus

Government czar notes ‘boom’ in cycling of conspiracy theories, including one claim that pandemic is result of a failed bioweapon test by Israeli secret service

Felix Klein, the German government's first-ever special envoy to the Jewish community, at the 'Berlin wears a kippah' protest, April 25, 2018 (courtesy BMI)
Felix Klein, the German government's first-ever special envoy to the Jewish community, at the 'Berlin wears a kippah' protest, April 25, 2018 (courtesy BMI)

Hatred against Jews has spiked in Germany with the spread of the new coronavirus, the government’s anti-Semitism commissioner warned Tuesday.

“There are direct links between the current spread of the coronavirus and that of anti-Semitism,” Felix Klein said in Berlin at the launch of a new government research project into the issue.

“There is a boom in conspiracy theories in times of crisis,” he said, describing anti-Semitism as a virus of its own that is “contagious on a social level.”

For example, he cited claims circulating online that the pandemic is the result of a failed bioweapon test by the Israeli secret service.

“In recent weeks, right-wing radicals have increasingly tried to leverage the coronavirus crisis for their own ends,” Klein said.

Anti-Semitic crimes have increased steadily in Germany in recent years.

According to government figures, the country recorded 1,799 anti-Semitic offenses in 2018, up nearly 20 percent on the year before. Of those, 69 were classed as violent attacks.

Last October, a suspected neo-Nazi gunman tried to storm a synagogue filled with worshipers in the city of Halle.

After failing to break down the door, he shot dead a female passerby and a man at a kebab shop instead.

With 12 million euros ($13 million) of funding between 2021 and 2025, the new research project involving several German universities will aim “to better understand the causes and manifestations of anti-Semitism,” according to Education and Research Minister Anja Karliczek.

“We want to tackle anti-Semitism with science,” Karliczek said.

read more:
comments