Soaring Antisemitic Outrages in Germany Are ‘Tip of the Iceberg,’ Intelligence Chief Warns
The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence service has warned that antisemitic outrages are continuing to soar, and that those incidents which are reported to the authorities are merely the “tip of the iceberg.”
Thomas Haldenwang — the president of Germany’s federal office for the protection of the constitution (BfV) — remarked on Wednesday that it was “frightening that antisemitic narratives are sometimes embraced by people in the middle of German society, serving as a link between social discourse and extremist ideologies.”
Haldenwang was speaking at the launch of the BfV report covering manifestations of antisemitism in Germany from the summer of 2020 through the autumn of 2021 — a period that included the COVID-19 pandemic, a war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and other significant events that were exploited by antisemitic conspiracy theorists.
Antisemitic tropes had surfaced “at the protests against the pandemic protection measures, and at rallies about the Middle East conflict,” Haldenwang said.
“Currently, we are also seeing it in connection with Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine,” Haldenwang added. Moreover, antisemitic ideology was present on the far right, on the extreme left and among Islamists.
The intelligence chief noted with alarm that while antisemitic incidents in Germany continued to increase year on year, the majority went unreported. “The dark field is much larger — those incidents that are not reported in the first place for various reasons,” Haldenwang commented.
According to data released by the German interior ministry in February, there was a 30 percent increase in antisemitic crime in 2021, with more than 3,000 incidents reported. The police registered 63 violent assaults in 2021 — six more than in 2020. Nearly half of the incidents (1,306) occurred in the second quarter of last year, during the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip that witnessed antisemitic violence accompanying “Free Palestine” demonstrations around the world.
Separately, the official tasked with coordinating the federal government’s response to antisemitic agitation stated that the BfV’s findings showed that antisemitism was connecting individuals and groups who would otherwise be politically disparate.
The pandemic had acted “like a fire accelerant” for antisemitism, Felix Klein, the federal government’s antisemitism commissioner, told the Welt news outlet.
Klein also highlighted the problem of “Israel-related antisemitism,” which was becoming more common. Incidents during last May’s fighting in Gaza included a May 15 riot in Berlin, during which protestors shouted “Israel murders children” as they pelted riot police with stones and bottles.
Both Haldenwang and Klein stressed that antisemitism in the real world was fueled by online activity.
“Many of the antisemitic crimes take place online, in the form of insults, threats, incitement to hatred, Holocaust denial,” Klein said.