German Government Launches National Strategy to Combat Rising Antisemitism
by Ben Cohen
Antisemitism in Germany exists “not only on the fringes, but it also at the heart of our society,” the country’s interior minister warned on Wednesday.
Speaking at the launch of the German government’s “National Strategy Against Antisemitism and for Jewish Life” after it was endorsed by the federal cabinet, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser observed that antisemitic conspiracy theories were once again enjoying currency in Germany.
“The antisemitic conspiracy craze gained new momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
The 50-page strategy has been published at a time of growing antisemitic violence and rhetoric in Germany. In 2021, antisemitic incidents soared by 30 percent, with more than 3,000 outrages recorded by the German authorities, while this year has witnessed a growing indulgence of antisemitic imagery and rhetoric, ranging from the controversial comments about the Holocaust uttered by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during an official visit to the display of virulently antisemitic works at the prestigious Documenta art festival. Additionally, more than 300 antisemitic crimes were recorded in the third quarter of this year, with several acts of violence among them.
The strategy emphasizes five main areas of intervention: data collection, preventive education, boosting Holocaust commemoration, stiffer penalties for antisemitic offenders and overall awareness of Jewish history and culture.
Felix Klein, the top federal official tasked with combating antisemitism, told the launch that the strategy had been approved at a critical period, in the wake of the pandemic and with more recent antisemitic claims circulating concerning the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Germany’s gas supply.
“Antisemitism is one of those supposedly simple answers,” Klein remarked. He described antisemitism as a “perceptual structure that provides wrong and dangerous answers to complex social and political phenomena, especially in times of crisis.”
Also addressing the launch was the EU’s coordinator against antisemitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, who announced the bloc’s own strategy to combat Jew-hatred last year.
“Germany has a key role to play in this,” von Schnurbein said. “The German strategy will lead to better recognition of and action to combat anti-Semitism in Germany and will also give important impetus internationally.”