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August 6, 2019 1:36 pm

Walking Home From Synagogue, Munich Rabbi and Sons Face Insults, Spitting, in Latest Antisemitic Outrage in Germany

avatar by Ben Cohen

The exterior of the main synagogue in the German city of Munich. Photo: Reuters / Michaela Rehle.

Police in the southern German city of Munich confirmed on Tuesday that they were seeking a man and a woman in connection with an antisemitic incident last Saturday, in which a rabbi and his two sons were insulted and spat upon.

The 53-year-old rabbi and his two sons, both 19, were walking home from Shabbat services at a synagogue in Munich’s fashionable Schwabing district when they were abused, the Süddeutsche Zeitung news website reported.

Spying the kippahs worn by the three Jewish men, a man on the opposite side of the street subjected them to antisemitic insults before walking off. Directly afterward, a woman who had observed the incident from her car began driving alongside the family, shouting antisemitic insults. When one of the rabbi’s sons walked to the passenger side of the vehicle to address the woman, she repeated the insults and then spat in his face.

A spokesperson for the Munich police said the department was seeking a man aged about 45 and woman aged about 35 on charges of incitement.

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The attack drew condemnation from senior religious and political figures in Munich. Bishop Susanne Breit-Kessler, the head of the Lutheran-Evangelical Church in the region, tweeted on Tuesday that it was “shameful,” while Ludwig Spaenle, a former education minister, described it as an “attack on the city of Munich.”

The assault on the rabbi and his family was the latest in a string of antisemitic outrages in Munich, the main city in the German state of Bavaria. Over the last two months, 15 incidents have been recorded, among them Islamists chanting, “Allahu Akhbar,” outside the city’s main synagogue on one occasion, and neo-Nazis from the “Wodans Erben Germanien” (“Odin’s Soldiers”) group gathering at the same location on another.

About 10,000 Jews live in Munich, out of a nationwide total of 100,000. In 2018, Munich police recorded 86 antisemitic hate crimes — up from 51 the previous year — including a series of threatening letters sent to a Jewish kindergarten.

Antisemitic hate crimes in Germany overall rose by 20 percent in 2018; both the government and the police have been strongly criticized for assuming that attacks on Jews are solely the work of the far right.

Earlier this year, Marcel Luthe — a member of Berlin’s state parliament for the liberal FDP Party — claimed that up to 60 percent of antisemitic offenses in the German capital had been incorrectly pinned by police on the far right, thereby diminishing the role played by Muslim extremists and militant anti-Zionists in attacking Jewish targets.

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