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May 21, 2021 3:25 pm
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German Police Downplaying Antisemitism From Muslim Community, Say Experts, Following Latest Outburst of Jew Hatred

avatar by Ben Cohen

Police officers detain a person after riots during a protest in support of Palestinians, in Berlin, Germany, May 9, 2021. REUTERS/Christian Mang.

Antisemitic acts committed by Muslims or left-wing activists are under-represented in the records of the German police, Germany’s top antisemitism official has admitted, amid continuing antisemitic demonstrations in German cities sparked by the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas.

“Israel-related antisemitism has penetrated into the middle of society,” Felix Klein — the German federal government’s commissioner tasked with combating antisemitism — said in an interview with German radio on Friday.

“About 40 percent of society agrees with sentences like: ‘With what Israel is doing, I can understand if someone has something against Jews,'” Klein observed. “So an environment has been created that might not have existed in this form seven years ago [during the Israel-Gaza war of 2014].”

While Germany has registered sharp annual increases in antisemitic hate crimes for most of the past decade, police statistics assign responsibility for a full 90 percent of these offenses to neo-Nazi groups. As Klein remarked in his radio interview, the demonstrations witnessed in recent days would seem to “counteract” this statistical picture.

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This distortion — which compromises strategies for countering antisemitism by downplaying its Muslim component — has long been criticized by experts on antisemitism. “I believe that an outdated understanding of extremism is also a key factor here,” Alexander Rasumny, an analyst with antisemitism watchdog RIAS, commented.

However, Klein pointed out that many everyday instances of Muslim antisemitism — verbal insults and degrading gestures directed at Jews — fall below the criminal threshold.

“The abuse of the religion of Islam to go against Jews needs to be made clearer,” Klein said. “I also have the impression that many Muslims in Germany reject it. And we also have to enable them to express this viewpoint within their own communities, of course. ”

Lamya Kaddor, a Muslim writer living in Germany, said in a separate piece that she had been “stunned” by the willingness of young Muslims in Germany to participate in angry pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

“I am stunned that so many people from a Muslim family background can be mobilized for this at such short notice,” Kaddor wrote in an article for broadcaster NDR. “There is no other occasion when they flock to the streets in such large numbers. This power of mobilization in the Middle East conflict can only be explained through antisemitism.”

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