German police have opened an investigation into a report from a prominent Berlin rabbi that he was insulted and spat at as he was heading home from synagogue with his son. Police said Wednesday they were treating the incident as a religiously motivated crime and are currently looking for suspects.
Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal was walking past an apartment building in the Wilmersdorf neighborhood Friday night when, he said. he was spat at and sworn at by two men inside the building. Teichtal, who said the two men spoke in Arabic, called in a statement for “tolerance, dialogue and training.” A recent study found that anti-Semitism is rampant among Muslim refugees in Germany.
Despite a rising number of anti-Semitic incidents, he says he remains “convinced most people in Berlin do not want to accept this aggression against Jews as a sad part of everyday Jewish life”
Earlier this week, two men were arrested after an anti-Semitic assault in the German city of Potsdam.
According to the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper, the unidentified 25-year old victim was visibly Jewish, wearing a kippa with a Star of David. “When I got off the tram at the main station, I noticed shadows behind me,” he recalled, alleging that the two men spat on him and screamed anti-Semitic threats and insults.
This week’s incidents are the latest in a wave of racially and religiously motivated crimes against Jews to rock Germany in recent years. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency reported last month that the number of anti-Semitic acts of violence rose sharply last year alongside a further increase in those identified as far-right extremists. The BfV agency said in its annual report that incidents of anti-Semitic violence increased by 71.4 percent in 2018 to 48, from 28 the previous year.
Worries about the authorities’ inability to combat anti-Semitic violence led Germany’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, to state in May that he could no longer recommend that Jews wear a kippa everywhere and any time in Germany. He retracted his statement following a public outcry. In response to his statement, German tabloid newspaper Bild printed a cut-out kippa for readers to wear in solidarity with their Jewish neighbors.
In one high-profile case last year, a non-Jewish Israeli man was beaten while wearing a kippa in Berlin. The man, 21-year old Arab Israeli Adam Armush, told broadcaster Deutsche Welle that he had wanted to find out whether it was safe to walk in the street dressed as a Jew.