Israeli says he was assaulted in Berlin for listening to Hebrew song

Suspects, reportedly from Gaza Strip, take offense to teen playing Omer Adam’s ‘Tel Aviv’ at train station in German capital

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

Illustrative photo of a man on the platform of a Berlin train station. February 23, 2008. (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a man on the platform of a Berlin train station. February 23, 2008. (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)

A Israeli teen and two of his friends were attacked at a Berlin railway station by a group of Arab men who became enraged when they heard a Hebrew song playing on the Israeli’s cellphone.

The incident happened at the Zoologischer Garten Station of the German capital overnight Saturday.

According to a report from the German-language Bild newspaper, the Arab men said they were from the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli teen, 17 and identified only as Yonatan, told the Hebrew-language Israel Hayom newspaper that he and his two friends, also 17, were waiting for a train when he played Israeli singer Omer Adam’s song “Tel Aviv” on his phone.

A group of Arab men heard the Hebrew lyrics from the song and approached the three teens.

Yonatan said they shouted at him “Hebrew music? For 70 years you are murdering children. Berlin is our city now and here we don’t listen to fucking Jewish music.”

After pointing out that just as they can play Arabic music he can listen to Israeli music, Yonatan said, he and his friends moved away from the group but they were followed.

According to the account, one suspect began to threaten the Israeli.

“If I had a knife, I would kill you … if I meet you again you are finished,” the suspect said, according to Yonatan.

According to the Israeli, when the two others tried to intervene on his behalf the group attacked them. One person was hit in the face and another was injured with a broken bottle and required hospital treatment, according to Israel Hayom.

The incident was recorded on the station’s security cameras. Police were called but by the time they arrived the assailants had disappeared.

Yonatan told Israel Hayom that at first the police didn’t take the incident seriously and eyewitnesses left the station without giving testimony to police.

Berlin police said in a statement that since the assailants fled the scene the police could not provide details of their identities.

People take part in the “Berlin wears kippa” event, with more than 2,000 Jews and non-Jews wearing the traditional skullcap to show solidarity with Jews on April 25, 2018 in Berlin after Germany has been rocked by a series of anti-Semitic incidents. (AFP PHOTO / Tobias SCHWARZ)

In May, a Syrian Palestinian man living in Berlin was charged with assault after he attacked an Arab Israeli man wearing a kippa.

During the attack, the assailant lashed the man with his belt and repeated the Arabic word for Jew, “Yahudi.” The victim, Adam Armoush, an Arab Israeli, filmed the attack on his cellphone. He was accompanied by a 24-year-old man also wearing a kippa who reported being accosted verbally by three men.

Armoush, 21, who is not Jewish, told the Deutsche Welle news agency that he had grown up in an Arab-Christian family in Haifa, Israel, and said he put on the kippa as an experiment to see “how bad it is to walk Berlin’s streets as a Jew today.”

In April non-Jewish Germans joined with Jews wearing kippas at several protests across Germany in a sign of solidarity after a spate of anti-Semitic incidents. The demonstrations came one day after the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, warned against wearing religious symbols on city streets for fear of attack.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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