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November 11, 2019 11:34 am

‘The Difference Now Is That We Have the State of Israel’: German Jewish Leader Describes Growing Unease With Threat from Neo-Nazis, Islamists

avatar by Ben Cohen

A solidarity vigil outside the synagogue in Halle, Germany, targeted by a neo-Nazi extremist on Yom Kippur. Photo: Reuters / Hannibal Hanschke.

The head of the Jewish community in the Germany city of Halle — where a neo-Nazi terrorist attempted to gun down worshipers gathered for Yom Kippur services in the main synagogue last month — has said that discussion among German Jews concerning emigration to Israel and other countries was becoming more prevalent amid a climate of rising antisemitism.

“Slowly, one considers whether there might not also be other places on our planet where we Jews could live better,” Max Privorozki — the chairman of the Halle Jewish community — said in an interview on Saturday with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Privorozki was among the 150 people inside the synagogue on Oct. 7, when armed neo-Nazi Stephan Balliet tried to break into the synagogue, only to be prevented from doing so by its security door. Unable to gain entry, Balliat murdered two people outside the synagogue before being captured by police.

Asked whether he had previously thought that an attack such as the one on Oct. 9 was even possible, Privorozki answered, “To this extent? No.”

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However, he continued, “we are observing with unease that antisemitism is becoming increasingly blatant in Germany at great speed. It is no longer embarrassing to openly present oneself as an antisemite.”

Privorozki pointed out that contemporary antisemitism in Germany “does not only come from neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists, but is also propagated by Islamists.”

Referring to the commemorations last week of the ‘Reichspogromnacht’ of Nov. 1938 — also known ‘Kristallnacht,’ when Nazi stormtroopers destroyed synagogues and Jewish businesses and rounded up Jews throughout Germany — Privorozki said he could sense the echoes of that terrible event in the present.

“In the last few days, we’ve commemorated the ‘Reichspogromnacht,’ and I must say: I see parallels between Nov. 9, 1938 and Oct. 9, 2019, the day of the attack on our synagogue in Halle,” he noted.

Privorozki asserted that if decisive measures were not taken against antisemitism “now,” the future of the German Jewish community was in doubt.

“I do not know whether the Jewish community in Germany still has a future at all,” Privorozki said. “However, today there is the decisive difference to the regime of the National Socialists: we have the State of Israel.”

A 56-year-old mathematician who emigrated to Germany from Ukraine 29 years ago, Privorozki said that he personally was looking into making aliyah.

“I was thinking about it before the attack, in any case,” he said. “I haven’t felt that comfortable in my city, in my country, for a few years now. I have lived here for 29 years, and most of the time I felt at home in Germany. But not for a few years.”

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