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May 23, 2018 3:22 pm

Distorted Antisemitism Statistics in Germany

avatar by Manfred Gerstenfeld

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Demonstrators wearing kippot in solidarity with the Jewish community at a Berlin demonstration against antisemitism in April 2018. Photo: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch.

The German Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer recently presented the country’s criminal statistics for 2017. These included 1,500 criminal antisemitic acts — about four per day. The minister claimed that 95% of these were motivated by right-wing attitudes. Another source reported that there were 947 antisemitic incidents in Berlin in 2017, an increase of 60% from the year before.

But if right-wing perpetrators of antisemitic acts were so dominant, why did several leading politicians come out in the last few months against Muslim antisemitism? The major public exposure of Muslim hate crimes against Jews in Germany started after the burning of a homemade Israeli flag in Berlin in December 2017. The video of this event went viral around the world.

For many years, Muslim antisemitism has been intentionally ignored and sometimes whitewashed in Germany. Severe criminal cases coming out of parts of this community were treated as “incidents” instead of as a structural problem.

Since last December this has suddenly changed. The Christian Democrat Jens Spahn —  the current Minister of Health and former Deputy Minister of Finance — put it clearly. He said that antisemitism in some Muslim countries was omnipresent. He mentioned ongoing incitement in families and mosques. He furthermore stressed that Muslim immigration had brought additional antisemitism to Germany. Spahn called on German Muslim organizations to do their duty and condemn the antisemitic crimes committed by Muslims.

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By April, even Chancellor Angela Merkel felt she could no longer remain silent. After yet another antisemitic attack in Berlin, she said that the authorities should act with extreme force against antisemitism — both by Germans and Arabs.

The newly appointed antisemitism commissioner Felix Klein has also come out against Muslim antisemitism. He said that Muslim refugees frequently come from countries in which antisemitism is in good taste. He added, “These people do not shed their prejudices at the border.”

Even the parliamentary faction leader of the leftist Green Party, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, addressed the subject. She said that her party had spoken too little about antisemitism among Muslims and ethnic Arab immigrants. Göring-Eckardt claimed that the right-wing AfD party abused the fight against antisemitism to freely express its Islamophobia. She also stated that antisemitism in the form of hostility against Israel should not be tolerated.

All these statements about Muslim antisemitism seem bizarre if 95% of antisemitic crimes in Germany are indeed caused by right-wing perpetrators.

To find out the truth, one has to look into more professional documents. The Office for the Security of the German Federal State of Hessen has published a report on antisemitism on the internet, authored by Ann-Christin Wegener. In analyzing the manifestations and ideological background of antisemitic agitation on social networks in Germany, it found that right-wing and Muslim perpetrators are more or less equally numerous among the hate-mongers. Logically, if one adds the incitement on German Turkish and Arab social media, we could assume that the majority of this antisemitic hate comes from Muslim sources.

Wegener mentions in her study that the authorities’ claim that the dominant majority of antisemitic incidents are caused by the extreme right results from the way that the police report crimes. As long as nothing is known about the motivation or the perpetrators — which is probably often the case — she claims that these incidents are labeled as right-wing motivated.

In view of all this, the German authorities should order the police to be more truthful in the future when reporting about perpetrators of antisemitic incidents.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is the emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism and the International Leadership Award by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

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