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Germany moves to block naturalization for antisemites

The new draft law seeks to exclude those who commit "antisemitic, racist, xenophobic or other inhumanely motivated actions" from naturalization.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Tel Aviv on Oct. 17, 2023. Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Tel Aviv on Oct. 17, 2023. Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO.

Legislation under consideration by the Bundestag seeks to block antisemites from gaining German citizenship, amid a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents in the country following Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault on Israel.

According to a statement released by Berlin’s Interior Ministry on Oct. 23: “The Citizenship Act should make it clear that antisemitic, racist, xenophobic or other inhumanely motivated actions are incompatible with the human dignity guarantee of the Basic Law and violate the free democratic basic order. Such actions therefore exclude naturalization. Of course, this also includes anti-Israel antisemitism.”

The draft law comes amid a 240% increase in antisemitic incidents in Germany in the week following the Hamas terrorist group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, according to the watchdog organization RIAS Berlin.

Last week, police confirmed that the Kahal Adass Jisroel community’s synagogue in the Mitte neighborhood of Berlin was attacked with two incendiary devices.

On Oct. 18, at least 65 police officers were injured during a violent anti-Israel riot in Neukölln, a Berlin borough sometimes referred to as “little Gaza” due to its sizable Arab population.

In the aftermath of the Oct. 7 massacre, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz flew to Israel, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv. At least eight Germans are believed to be among the more than 230 hostages abducted into the Gaza Strip by Hamas during their invasion of the western Negev.

Shani Louk, 22, a dual Israeli-German citizen who was abducted by Hamas from the Supernova music festival near Kibbutz Re’im, was officially declared dead on Monday after weeks of uncertainty.

Israeli Ambassador to Germany Ron Prosor, who attended a pro-Israel gathering in central Berlin on Sunday for the hostages’ release, told JNS: “We witness many stories of Jews who feel unsafe here.”

Prosor noted however that “hate demonstrations” in Germany did not start on Oct. 7, but “grew on the fertile ground of organizations such as Samidoun.”

Samidoun, which is associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group, handed out candies in Neukölln on the night of Oct. 7.

The organization openly supports terrorism and calls for the elimination of the State of Israel, according to Prosor.

On Apr. 8, Samidoun’s German branch organized a march in Berlin where the mainly German Muslim participants chanted “Death to Jews” and “Death to Israel.”

Citing Samidoun’s celebration of Hamas terror, Scholz on Oct. 12 announced that the group would be banned. Berlin Police have also implemented a series of measures attempting to curb the antisemitism spike, including a ban on pro-Palestinian rallies, and have arrested a Samidoun “ringleader” of Palestinian-Syrian descent, according to reports in German media.

The new Citizenship Act seemingly marks a departure from traditional politics of dismissing “the demonization and delegitimization of Israel.”

“The federal government—starting with the president, the chancellor and the minister of the interior—have unequivocally called for a fundamental change,” Prosor told JNS, adding that this goes beyond the German Jewish community and is critical for “every person who values ​​democracy, freedom of religion and worship.”

Keren, an Israeli expat who helped organize the pro-Israel gathering, related to JNS that one of the community’s main objectives was to start a conversation with non-Jews.

“Over the last few days, we all feel more Jewish with the rise of antisemitism,” Keren explained. “And while there is some tension, we do see that Germany at large is on Israel’s side.”

On Oct. 18, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock echoed these sentiments, emphasizing that “Never again is now.”

“It is unbearable that Jews in Germany have to be afraid that Stars of David are painted on houses and firebombs will be thrown at synagogues. We are opposing this with all the strength of the state and our society. Never again is now,” she tweeted.

However, Germany did not follow the United States’ lead by voting against last week’s draft resolution, introduced by Jordan and cosponsored by 46 countries at the U.N. General Assembly, demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza while failing to mention Hamas.

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