Pompeo lays flowers at German synagogue after far-right shooting
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Pompeo lays flowers at German synagogue after far-right shooting

US secretary of state and Jewish Agency head Isaac Herzog visit Jewish community in city of Halle, speak against rising anti-Semitism in Europe

Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, left, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center,  and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visit the synagogue in Halle, Germany, November 7, 2019. (Courtesy/Jewish Agency for Israel)
Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, left, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visit the synagogue in Halle, Germany, November 7, 2019. (Courtesy/Jewish Agency for Israel)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday laid flowers at a kebab shop and a synagogue in Germany targeted in last month’s fatal shooting by a far-right gunman.

Accompanied by Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog and Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, he left flowers outside the kebab shop, adding to a sea of bouquets and candles there, and exchanged a few words with the owner.

Deploring the scourge of anti-Semitism, Pompeo met with members of the Jewish community at the synagogue.

“Our whole team has made a major focus on stamping out anti-Semitism wherever we find it. It’s an honor for me to come here alongside you and share America’s sympathy for what took place here and to remind the world that anti-Semitism is not just limited to certain places. We can find it everywhere… like in Pittsburgh. We must work together against this vicious attack on religious freedom,” Pompeo said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, right, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, carry white roses to lay at the synagogue of Halle, Germany, November 7, 2019. (John Macdougall/Pool via AP)

At the memorial service, Herzog said: “There is no question as to the rampant rise of anti-Semitism across Europe. It’s truly a miracle that the Jews of Halle didn’t suffer a massacre on Yom Kippur. Global leaders must unite in a relentless fight against anti-Semitism by protecting Jewish institutions, and most importantly, by means of education and firm legislation against hate crimes.”

Herzog was touring Germany on a visit focused on combating rising anti-Semitism in the country. The visit coincided with the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Kristallnacht — the “Night of Broken Glass” — when Nazis, among them many ordinary Germans, terrorized Jews throughout Germany and Austria. They killed at least 91 people and vandalized 7,500 Jewish businesses. They also burned more than 1,400 synagogues, according to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

“This Shabbat marks 81 years since Kristallnacht. It is inconceivable that today Jews need to remove their kippah (skullcap) in order to walk the streets of Europe,” Herzog said.

The suspect in the attack, 27-year-old German Stephan Balliet, had sought to storm the synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

When he failed, he shot dead a female passerby outside the synagogue, and later gunned down a man in the kebab shop a short distance away.

Police subsequently captured the suspect after a gun battle that left him wounded.

Pompeo is on a two-day tour of Germany ahead of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

On Thursday, he was in Leipzig meeting with demonstrators from the 1989 peaceful revolution that brought the communist regime down, and will on Friday give a speech in the German capital.

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