Kippah Warning Is ‘Call to Action’ Against Rising Antisemitism, Top German Government Official Says
The German government official tasked with combating antisemitism on Monday clarified his advice that Jews should be wary of donning kippahs in parts of the country, stating that this comments were intended as a “call to action.”
Federal commissioner Felix Klein told the Bild newspaper that he “wanted to shake things up and make it clear to the public that we have to act before it is too late.”
Klein’s original statement on Saturday generated a wave of controversy when he cautioned — with reference to government statistics that revealed a 20-percent rise in antisemitic offenses in Germany in 2018 — “I cannot advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere all the time in Germany.”
Klein blamed this situation on “the lifting of inhibitions and the uncouthness which is on the rise in society,” and said, “The internet and social media have largely contributed to this — but so have constant attacks against our culture of remembrance.”
He also spotlighted the growing levels of antisemitism among large sections of the Muslim community in Germany. “Many of them watch Arab [satellite TV] channels, in which a fatal image of Israel and Jews is conveyed,” Klein said.
Other German politicians jumped into the debate set off by Klein’s comments. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, said on Monday, “It’s the job of the state to ensure that anybody can move around securely with a skullcap in any place in our country.”
Leading parliamentarian Frank Müller-Rosentritt, who earlier this month was among the sponsors of a Bundestag resolution that condemned the boycott campaign targeting Israel as “antisemitic,” said that Klein’s comments had provided an unvarnished view of the problem.
“I do not share the recommendation of Mr. Klein, but I am very pleased that he has the courage to address the grievances,” Müller-Rosentritt told Bild.
Germany’s Jewish community emphasized that Klein’s comments were simply a reflection of the reality on the ground. “It has long been a fact that Jews in some major cities are potentially at risk if they are recognized as Jews,” Josef Schuster — president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany — said on Monday.
As a gesture of solidarity with Germany’s Jews, the front page of Bild on Monday published a cut-out kippah for readers to assemble, complete with an explanatory video on the newspaper’s website.
“Show your solidarity with your Jewish neighbors, make your own kippah in four simple steps and stand up against antisemitism!” the paper urged.