(April 25, 2018 / Berlin / EJP) German Justice Minister Katarina Barley has warned against growing anti-Jewish sentiments in the country. “Anti-Semitism is becoming socially acceptable again,” she deplored in an interview with the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper.
Her words had anecdotal backing, shown with alarming clarity by assaults, most recently on a kipah-bearing Israeli in Berlin.
“It is our great task to counter this development,” said the minister.
She was referring to the attack last Tuesday in Berlin when a young Israeli man, Adam Armush, 21, decided to wear a kipah in his neighborhood, the Prenzlauer Berg district, as a social experiment to see if he would face prejudicial treatment, as a friend told him he might.
In a video widely shared on social media, Adam and his companion were rushed at with belts by a man yelling Yahudi, or “Jew” at them in Arabic.
“At that moment, I realized I have to take a video of it. I wanted to have evidence for police and the German people and the world to see how terrible it is these days as a Jew to go through Berlin streets,” he told Deutsche Welle.
His assailant, a 19-year-old man, has been arrested.
Barley, a member of the Social-Democrat Party, established a connection between the growing hostility towards Jews and the high number of refugees in recent years. “Anti-Semitism is widespread in Arab countries,” she said. “If people from these countries come to us, this can also be a problem in this country.”
Anti-Semitism has “no place in Germany,” she insisted. “Anyone who behaves anti-Semitic will have to reckon with the harshness of the rule of law.”
In response to the latest attack, Berlin’s Jewish community is planning a “Berlin wears a kipah” campaign, mobilizing people of all religions to don the head covering in a show of interfaith solidarity.
According to Germany’s anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein, an estimated “1,500 anti-Semitic attacks are registered by police every year.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who lamented new forms of anti-Semitism in Germany, told Israeli news channel Channel 10 : “We now have new phenomena in having refugees or people of Arab origin bringing back another form of anti-Semitism.”
Sadly, however, anti-Semitism already existed before the arrival of many refugees in Germany, acknowledged Merkel. “No Jewish kindergarten, no school, no synagogue could be without police protection.”
And that fact, she said, “depresses us.”