Angela Merkel says Germany must confront anti-Semitism

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says anti-Semitism in Germany must be confronted by the government and civil society together.

Speaking Monday to more than 100 legislators from some 40 countries gathered in Berlin for the third Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism, Merkel also says that Jews must feel free to speak up when they fear anti-Semitism — and they must be received with sympathy and concern.

Whether it is hate-filled criticism of Israel, vandalism of cemeteries or synagogues, “Anti-Semitism and other prejudices have no place in our society,” Merkel says.

Merkel commends the conference organizers for addressing anti-Semitism in sports, on the Internet and on the street.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during the launch of the election campaign of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party for state elections in Magdeburg, eastern Germany, on February 13, 2016. (AFP/Ronny Hartmann)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during the launch of the election campaign of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party for state elections in Magdeburg, eastern Germany, on February 13, 2016. (AFP/Ronny Hartmann)

“If gravestones are defaced, then our country itself is defaced. If synagogues are vandalized, this shakes the foundations of our free society,” Merkel said. And demonstrators who call for the destruction of Israel are simply “giving vent to hatred of Jews.” In so doing, they “abuse the fundamental rights in our country to freedom of association and expression.”

Fighting all manifestations of anti-Semitism and hate is the “joint role of government and civil society.”

— JTA

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