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May 24, 2022 4:06 pm
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German Antisemitism Monitor: Berlin Attacks Rose in 2021, Included Cases of ‘Extreme Violence’

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

A man wears a kippah at a May 2021 “No to Antisemitism” demonstration outside the synagogue in the German city of Gelsenkirchen. Photo: Reuters/Fabian Strauch/dpa

Antisemitic incidents in Germany’s capital continued to rise last year, for the first time including a record of two cases of “extreme violence,” according to a report published Tuesday.

A total of 1,052 antisemitic incidents —  an average of three incidents a day — were documented in Berlin in 2021, according a report by RIAS, a Berlin-based monitoring institute, which seeks to track cases that fall below the criminal threshold. The number compares with 1,019 cases in 2020 and 886 incidents in 2019.

“The rising number of antisemitic incidents shows very clearly that antisemitism is becoming more and more aggressive,” commented Samuel Salzborn, the city’s antisemitism commissioner.

For the first time since 2015, the organization said it recorded two cases of “extreme violence,” described as physical attacks that may lead to loss of life or that constitute serious bodily harm, and the use of firearms. In one of the incidents, in October, a man walking on a sidewalk was brutally beaten by a group of three attackers, suffering serious injuries, after he refused their demand to say “Free Palestine.”

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In another incident in August, a bullet was shot from a rifle or pistol through a window into the reception room of a Jewish community center in Berlin. No one was harmed.

Overall, RIAS Berlin last year documented 22 antisemitic attacks, which included physical assaults, beatings in the underground metro, spitting on the street and attacks using tear gas. In fourteen cases the victims were Jewish and were addressed as such. The monitoring group also recorded 43 cases of damage to property, 28 threats, 895 incidents of harmful behavior and 62 antisemitic mass letters.

“Antisemitic attacks are not an everyday phenomenon in Berlin,” the authors wrote. “Nevertheless, they shape the everyday life of Jews in Berlin.”

Out of last year’s 1,052 antisemitic incidents, just over half (545) were directed against institutions, and about one fifth against individuals. A total of 292 people were directly affected by the incidents, about three-quarters of whom were either Jewish or Israeli.

The violence between Israel and Hamas during May of last year fueled a spike in anti-Jewish sentiment, when a total of 225 antisemitic incidents were registered — more than in any other calendar month since RIAS Berlin began documenting antisemitic incidents in 2015.

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