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October 9, 2018 2:12 pm

Amid Increase in Antisemitic Attacks by Muslim Extremists and Far-Rightists, German Government Launches New Reporting Hotline for Victims

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

Germany’s government on Tuesday announced the creation of a national hotline to report antisemitic incidents, following the publication of official statistics in August which showed an increase of more than 10 percent in the number of attacks on Jews during 2018.

The hotline is the brainchild of Felix Klein, who was appointed by the federal government as its first antisemitism commissioner last April. Klein has spoken frequently about the pressing need to document antisemitic attacks accurately, particularly when it comes to the identities and motives of perpetrators.

Benjamin Steinitz — director of RIAS, a Berlin-based research institute on antisemitism whose monitoring of antisemitic incidents is the model for the new government initiative — told the news outlet Welt on Tuesday that the “overarching goal is to ensure a nationwide, civil society record of antisemitic incidents.”

As well as RIAS, the Central Council of German Jews is a partner to the new project.

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Data on antisemitism in Germany has been compromised by poor reporting procedures in the past. According to police statistics, more than 90 percent of antisemitic attacks are committed by right-wing extremists, in part because of the practice of automatically assigning responsibility to neo-Nazi and fascist groups in cases where the motive is unclear. Over the last decade, however, a growing proportion of antisemitic attacks in Germany have been committed by Muslim extremists.

In an interview following his appointment in April, Klein emphasized that he was hearing “something different from Jews in Germany — above all, that Muslim antisemitism is stronger than is reflected in the statistics.”

The creators of the new hotline are hoping that more victims of antisemitic attacks will come forward than currently do — another loophole in the present reporting system. Experts consulted by Welt also noted that some acts of antisemitism did not carry legal penalties in Germany.

“If somebody is threatened with ‘Du Jude’ (‘You Jew’) in an aggressive way, that is not yet punishable and therefore does not appear in the police crime statistics,” Welt said.

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