Antisemitism ‘Also Has an Ugly Islamist Face,’ New German Government Commissioner Declares in Wake of Berlin Assault
The German government’s newly-appointed antisemitism commissioner has urged a renewed effort against anti-Jewish hatred within the country’s Muslim communities, following the shocking attack by three Arabic-speaking assailants on an Israeli man and his friend who were wearing kippot as they walked along a Berlin street on Tuesday.
One of the assailants, a 19 year-old Syrian citizen, turned himself into police on Thursday as video of the incident — which showed the attackers brandishing a leather belt and a bottle as they assaulted their victims — went viral on the internet. German police are treating the incident as an antisemitic hate crime.
On Thursday, Felix Klein — appointed as the country’s first federal antisemitism commissioner on April 8 — expressed concern that official statistics on the perpetrators of hate crimes upon Jews did not adequately reflect the number of attacks carried out by Muslims.
Interviewed by the German newspaper Die Welt about his new, high-profile position, Klein said that gathering accurate data would be a priority for team of professionals he was currently assembling.
“According to the statistics, 90 percent of antisemitic crimes are committed by right-wing radicals,” Klein remarked. “But I hear something different from Jews in Germany. Above all, that Muslim antisemitism is stronger than is reflected in the statistics.”
Commenting on the attack on the two kippot-wearing men earlier this week, Klein said that “Jew-hatred also has an ugly Islamist face.”
“Antisemitism is common in many Muslim countries and is often brought into Germany,” he continued. “We cannot accept that.”
During a tough interview that examined other recent antisemitic incidents in Germany – such as the award of the country’s most prestigious music prize to a rap duo whose lyrics demean the Holocaust – Klein repeatedly emphasized the duty of the German state to “protect Jewish life.”
Asked by Die Welt whether he would advise an Israeli friend that it was safe to wear a kippah in Germany, Klein answered that “everyone has to assess the danger for themselves.”
“Of course, our goal must be for Jews to freely wear the kippah without any problems,” he said. This week’s incident in Berlin had “shown that this is unfortunately not always the case,” he added.
Pressed as to what he personally would advise someone asking whether it was safe to wear a kippah, Klein answered, “I would say, ‘Basically yes. But be alert too.'”