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June 8, 2022 4:38 pm
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Jews in Germany ‘Under Massive Threat,’ Community Leader Warns

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

A ‘kippah rally’ in Berlin in April 2018 expressing solidarity with Germany’s Jewish community. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.

Jewish life in Germany is “under massive threat” amid a resurgence of white nationalism and antisemitic hate crimes, a European Jewish leader warned on Wednesday.

Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, sounded the alarm following the release of a government report finding that far-right extremism threatened German democracy.

“The new report on the protection of the constitution shows that Jewish life in Germany continues to be massively threatened.” Schuster said. “The greatest danger comes from the right-wing extremist scene.”

Schuster’s warning comes as the German federal government prepares the Democracy Promotion Act, a legislative effort to fight racial and antisemitic bigotry. The government has also enacted a series of additional social programs meant to integrate citizens most at risk of radicalization.

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Germany’s Jewish community of nearly 100,000 has disproportionately felt the effects of conspiracies and fear mongering in recent years. In 2021 German Jews were the target of 3,028 antisemitic hate crimes involving verbal abuse and assault, including a 12 percent increase in the number of antisemitic crimes committed by right-wing extremists. Nearly half of all incidents recorded, which rose 30% from the previous year, occurred during Israel’s 2021 operation in Gaza.

Antisemitism in Germany has evolved in recent decades, according to a 2020-2021 report on antisemitism by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

“Just as Jewish life in Germany has changed over the past 30 years and has often become more diverse, so has the hatred of Jews that has been going on for centuries and in some cases for thousands of years,” the report said. “The demonstrations and riots that took place against the background of the escalation in the Middle East conflict in the spring of 2021 demonstrated how antisemitism is currently and directly manifesting itself in Germany.”

The agency, which began issuing a yearly assessment of antisemitism in 2020, identifies six ideological strains of antisemitism — religious antisemitism, social antisemitism, political antisemitism, racist antisemitism, secondary antisemitism, and anti-Zionist antisemitism — that “do not usually occur in isolation, but rather refer to one another and are intertwined.”

Antisemitism on the far right, the report said, has plagued German politics since the 19th century when nationalist and folk hatreds combined into Nazi racial supremacy.

It is now resurgent, especially on social media, where anonymity and “largely unfiltered means of communication create an attractive and comparatively safe space for any kind of extremist ideas.”

Germany adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism in 2017.

“The number of antisemitic crimes committed by right-wing extremists alone has increased by around 12 percent compared to the previous year,” Schuster added on Wednesday.

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