Skullcap-wearing Jews unsafe in parts of Germany, anti-Semitism czar says
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Skullcap-wearing Jews unsafe in parts of Germany, anti-Semitism czar says

Felix Klein laments ‘increasing social disinhibition and brutality,’ says state officials need better education on tackling hatred

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)

The German government’s top official against anti-Semitism said Saturday he wouldn’t advise Jews to wear skullcaps in parts of the country.

Felix Klein was quoted in an interview with the Funke newspaper group as saying that “my 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 didn’t elaborate on what places and times might be risky.

Klein blamed “increasing social disinhibition and brutality.”

Germany’s main Jewish leader said last year that he would advise people visiting big cities against wearing Jewish skullcaps.

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.

Klein also said better police training was needed to tackle the problem.

“There is much insecurity among police and government officials in dealing with anti-Semitism. Many officials do not know what is allowed and what is not,” he said. “There is a clear definition of anti-Semitism, and it has to be taught in police schools. Likewise, it should be part of the education of teachers and lawyers.”

German security officials said earlier this month that the number of anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner incidents rose in the country last year, despite an overall fall in politically motivated crimes.

Anti-Semitic incidents rose by 19.6 percent to 1,799 in 2018, with 89.1% of them involving far-right perpetrators.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas commented on the figures, noting at a conference inaugurating a European network to combat anti-Semitism that hatred of Jews in Germany was “not an imported product,” German news agency dpa reported.

However, Maas said that in the fight against anti-Semitism, crimes by immigrants should also be looked at “just as decisively.”

The report did not give exact numbers for attacks committed by radical Islamists, only saying the government recorded a decline in 2018. It said a possible reason cited by the Interior Ministry was the Islamic State terror group losing significant ground in Syria and Iraq.

A man wears a kippa at a demonstration against an anti-Semitic attack in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

In all, xenophobic incidents rose 19.7% to 7,701 amid an overall uptick in hate crimes to 8,113, from 7,913.

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