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November 13, 2019 4:54 pm

German Antisemitism Tsar Urges Amending Criminal Code to Specify Offenses Against Jews

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People place candles at the synagogue in Halle, Germany, Oct. 10, 2019, after two people were killed in a shooting. Photo: Reuters / Hannibal Hanschke.

The official tasked by the German government with combating rising antisemitism has urged that the country’s criminal code be amended so that offenses motivated by hatred of Jews can be subjected to harsher punishment.

Speaking in Berlin on Wednesday, Felix Klein — who was appointed as Germany’s first federal commissioner against antisemitism in April 2018 — said that Paragraph 46 of the German Criminal Code, which lays out the principles that inform sentences, should now include an express reference to antisemitism.

Currently, the code says that sentencing will take into account “the motives and objectives of the perpetrator,” specifying acts that are “racist” and “xenophobic.”

Klein stated that he wanted to add the word “antisemitic” to the code. He argued that this would be an “important signal” to the German Jewish community of the government’s preparedness to get tough on antisemitic offenders. The change would also provide “useful guidance” to judges and prosecutors dealing with cases of antisemitic behavior, Klein said.

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He added that while his proposal had won the support of some German parliamentarians, he was nonetheless encountering “a lot of resistance,” German news outlet Welt reported on Wednesday.

Commenting on his first 18 months in office, Klein thanked the German federal government for supporting his efforts.

“Germany is dealing with renewed antisemitism that requires consistent action at all levels — politics, civil society, the media,” Klein said.

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