Israeli Restaurant Owner in Berlin Shows Determination to Combat Antisemitic Harassment
Despite its Ashkenazi name, the Berlin kosher restaurant “Feinberg’s” promises what it calls a “culinary journey through the deliciousness of Sephardic cuisine,” serving a menu of grilled meats, hummus and Middle Eastern salads. Online reviews of the restaurant routinely praise the food, but its owner, Israeli citizen Yorai Feinberg, has also developed a reputation for speaking out against antisemitism — something he experiences personally on a regular basis.
Feinberg briefly came to international attention in Dec. 2017, when he filmed a video that subsequently went viral of a 60-year-old white man engaging in a vicious antisemitic rant outside his restaurant.
“Go back to your gas chambers,” the man screamed. “What did you all want here after 1945? After 6 million of you were killed. What do you still want here?”
At the time, German politicians loudly denounced the abuse, with Justice Minister Heiko Maas declaring his firm opposition to “antisemitic rabble-rousing.” However, as Feinberg explained in an interview with the AFP news agency on Friday, since that episode, the antisemitic harassment he faces has increased exponentially. Of the hundreds of hateful emails received by Feinberg each week, 65-pages worth have so far been sent by a single correspondent who calls himself “Lutz F.”
“He starts by denying the Holocaust, then continues with a hate tirade against Israel, then uses Nazi-era insults such as ‘dirty Jew,’ ‘shit Jew,'” Feinberg explained to AFP. Other messages were explicitly violent, such as a recent threat written in upper-case letters that warned, “I’m going to cut your throat.”
Feinberg said that most of his attackers are Muslims, often newly-arrived migrants from the Middle East. Other offenders included left-wing and right-wing extremists he said.
While Feinberg has filed 20 complaints with the police, only one resulted in a judicial sentence for the offender — a seven-month suspended term for the man whose rant was caught on tape. His regular abuser “Lutz F” has been deemed mentally incompetent by the courts, and therefore unfit for trial. At the same time, other abusers have become bolder, Feinberg said.
“It’s absurd, many people don’t even fear any consequences,” he said.
Feinberg is currently urging the public to add their names to a petition he has set up demanding tougher action against antisemitic harassment, that has already garnered over 50,000 signatures.
“Personally I’m getting more support and love than hate and aggression,” he said. “I hope this positive side will get stronger and louder in Germany, France and Europe.”