Jewish leader decries ‘commonplace’ anti-Semitism in Germany
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Jewish leader decries ‘commonplace’ anti-Semitism in Germany

Charlotte Knobloch says community life can only take place under police protection, days after Hannukah menorah vandalized

Extreme right-wings demonstrators gather prior to a neo-Nazi rally on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the death of Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess in Berlin Spandau on August 19, 2017. AFP/Tobias SCHWARZ)
Extreme right-wings demonstrators gather prior to a neo-Nazi rally on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the death of Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess in Berlin Spandau on August 19, 2017. AFP/Tobias SCHWARZ)

A Jewish leader in Germany says community life is being muzzled by rampant anti-Semitism in the country.

Charlotte Knobloch, a former head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told local newspaper Heilbronner Stimme that physical and verbal anti-Jewish attacks had become “commonplace,” forcing the community to seek help from the police.

“Jewish life can only take place in public under police protection and under the strictest security measures — or it has to be canceled altogether,” she said.

German Jewish community leader Charlotte Knobloch (Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Michael Lucan)

The comments came after a large public Hannukah menorah in Heilbronn was vandalized over the holiday earlier this month.

Police have said they are investigating if the vandalism was motivated by anti-Semitism or hooliganism, though Knobloch told the paper past incidents of anti-Jewish vandalism led her to believe it was the former.

“Jewish institutions, synagogues and cemeteries are regularly vandalized, publicly accessible exhibitions and installations are willfully damaged or destroyed,” she said.

Knobloch and others have raised alarms recently about growing anti-Semitism, especially after the far-right AfD party entered the German parliament earlier this year, a result she called a “nightmare come true” at the time.

“With the AfD, exclusion, inwardness, aggression, contempt for humanity, conspiracy theories, volkisch nationalism, neo-Nazism, violating the constitution, Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism, racism, anti-religiousness, hostility toward the media and Europe, revisionism and historical relativism move into the Bundestag and its national and international bodies,” she said then.

Speaking to the Stimme, Knobloch said anti-Semitism from Muslim migrants also had to be addressed.

On December 8, protesters in Berlin burned Israeli flags to protest the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, drawing outrage from Jewish and German officials.

Demonstrators wave Palestinian, Turkish and Syrian flags in front of the Brandenburg Gate, next to the US embassy in Berlin on December 8, 2017, (AFP PHOTO / John MACDOUGALL)

German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere later called for the government to appoint an anti-Semitism commissioner to counter growing hate speech against Jews and Israel from both its homegrown far right and the immigrant community.

“Every criminal act motivated by anti-Semitism is one too many and a shame for our country,” de Maiziere told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

“Anti-Semitism must never again take hold in Germany,” he said, pointing to a rise of “derogatory remarks, inappropriate jokes and discriminatory behavior against our Jewish citizens.”

AFP contributed to this report

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