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August 10, 2018 1:32 pm

Continuing Rise in Antisemitic Crimes in Germany Worries Jewish Community, Political Leaders

avatar by Ben Cohen

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A “kippah rally” in Berlin in April expressing solidarity with Germany’s Jewish community. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.

Antisemitic incidents in Germany rose by more than 10 percent in the first six months of 2018, a report from the federal government to the country’s parliament published on Friday disclosed.

Across Germany, police arrested 401 offenders for antisemitic provocations, including violence and verbal abuse, between January and June — a 10.7 percent increase on the same period in 2017.

Of particular concern is the capital, Berlin, where 80 incidents were reported. In one of the more well-publicized episodes, an Israeli citizen who was walking through the German capital on April 17 while wearing a kippah was attacked by a gang of Muslim youths.

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, told German news outlets that the numbers were “upsetting but not surprising.”

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“The rise in antisemitic offenses confirms the reports from members of our community about increasing hatred of Jews in everyday life,” Schuster said.

Concern about the continued growth of antisemitism in Germany resulted in the appointment in April of a federal commissioner, Felix Klein, to tackle the problem head on. About 100,000 Jews live in Germany, a community swelled in recent years by the arrival of thousands of young Israelis.

On Friday, Klein declared that the latest antisemitic incident figures were “only the tip of the iceberg.”

“Antisemitic abuse and antisemitic attitudes have spread unacceptably in Germany,” Klein said.

One of the more contentious challenges facing Klein is clarifying the number of incidents involving Muslim protagonists. Critics of the government have frequently charged that its methods for gathering and classifying antisemitic crimes in Germany have underrepresented Muslim involvement in attacks on Jews.

The latest numbers again show that the large majority of attacks were carried out by right-wing extremists. Of the 80 incidents in Berlin, the daily Taggespiegel reported, eight were ascribed by police to a “foreign ideology,” while a further three were classified as “religious ideology” — indicating that the crimes were committed by Islamists.

In the southern state of Bavaria, Germany’s largest — where 43 antisemitic incidents were recorded between January and June — local officials warned against a rise in vigilantism by Neo-Nazi groups.

In Munich, Würzburg, Augsburg and other cities, far-right groups with names like “Soldiers of Odin” have mounted “citizens patrols” to intimidate migrants and other foreigners. Joachim Herrmann, Bavaria’s interior minister, claimed earlier this week that the neo-Nazis were exploiting fears among the broader population over crimes committed by immigrants, particularly those involving sexual harassment and violence against women.

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