Rising Antisemitic Attacks in Bavaria Driven by Coronavirus Protests, Warns German Monitoring Report
Antisemitic incidents recorded in Bavaria, a southwestern state in Germany, rose by about 30% during 2020 versus the previous year, according to a new report released Monday by the Association of Research and Information on Antisemitism (RIAS).
According to annual report by the antisemitism monitoring institute in Bavaria, the number of antisemitic incidents increased by 55 to a total of 239 in 2020. Almost every other incident was connected to the coronavirus pandemic, including conspiracy theories, and anti-lockdown protests.
In the report, RIAS Bavaria cited an incident in Nuremberg where a speaker at a pandemic demonstration said: “Zionists, satanists, transhumanists and the pharmaceutical mafia through sterilization and murder by lethal injection would enforce […] the absolute control of each individual and the eradication of other parts of the population. Behind corona is the damp dream of a communist world power, namely restructuring the world into a new order.”
“I consider the antisemitism of the coronavirus deniers to be extremely dangerous because milieus from right to left are connected here. Unfortunately, we cannot assume that this hatred will disappear with the end of the pandemic,” said Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. “We need consistent action by police and the legal system against all radical forces. The proper documentation of antisemitic incidents is also important. ”
A photo montage at a coronavirus demonstration last year showed people being forcibly vaccinated by men wearing uniforms with a star of David emblem with a “Zion” inscription. In another documented case, a German rapper posted a video via Instagram claiming that the Rothschild family was behind lockdown restrictions that had been instituted to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, in 2019, most of the antisemitic incidents still had a purely right-wing extremist or right-wing populist background.
“There is still a violent Islamist scene that threatens Jewish communities. They too must continue to be monitored by security authorities,” said Schuster.
Last year, in 54% of the reported cases, antisemitic incidents referenced to national socialism and the killing of European Jews. Overall, RIAS Bavaria documented 188 instances of antisemitic hurtful behavior, 27 cases of propaganda bulk mails, 10 instances of threatening behavior, 13 instances of property damage, and one physical attack.
“Antisemitism was expressed more openly in the context of corona protests than usual in the public. It is to be seen as a connecting element of the ideological conspiracy scene in which people of all political stripes come together,” said RIAS Bavaria head Annette Seidel-Arpaci. “At the same time, everyday antisemitism, which was also there before corona and which forms a foundation for antisemitic content at protests, must be kept in mind.”
In terms of the location, almost half of the antisemitic incidents were registered in Munich, partly due to the fact that RIAS Bavaria is based in the city. Additionally, Munich is the largest city in the state with one of the largest and liveliest Jewish communities in Germany. About 100 of the documented instances happened on the street.
One example included a football coach wearing a “TSV Maccabi München” jacket with a star of David, who was insulted as a “Jewish bastard” in a Munich park last year by a man wearing a T-shirt that read “corona denier” and “anti-vaxxer.” The assailant claimed that Jews had created the coronavirus, according to the report.
According to estimates by RIAS Bavaria in 75 of the 239 documented incidents criminal action was involved.
“Even below the level of criminal offenses, we have to take note of a terrifying development of hostility towards Jews, as the report from RIAS Bavaria shows,” commented Ludwig Spaenle, Bavarian commissioner against antisemitism and for Jewish life. “Demonstrations against restrictions to protect against the coronavirus and the Internet are drivers of this development. We have to take action against this. In the case of criminal offenses, repression by the police and the judiciary is required. In the long-term, however, knowledge and education are the most sustainable path. “