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Germany's rising anti-Semitism

By Russell Grenning - posted Tuesday, 5 June 2018

On May 17 in Berlin, a young man wearing a Jewish skullcap (known as the Kippah or Yarmulke) was viciously and without any provocation attacked by three Arabic speaking men screaming "Yahudi" (Jew, in Arabic). The attack of him being beaten by a belt was recorded, posted online and it went viral.

Ironically, the young man Adam Armoush, 21, who was attacked isn't even a Jew – he is an Israeli Arab – and he was walking with his friend who also wore a skull cap and who had told him that it was unsafe to wear such headwear.  Young Adam had been very skeptical and wanted to challenge that opinion. Now, understandably, he has revised his view.

After being identified, one of the assailants turned himself into police and admitted that he was an asylum- seeking refugee from Syria. What made the attack even more frightening was that it happened in an upmarket, affluent suburb of Berlin and not in an area of the city with a large Muslim population. Local people, interviewed by German media, were shocked and bewildered – all said that they expected this sort of violent antisemitism in outer suburbs but not in their well-ordered, respectable and comfortable area. To an outside observer this almost casual  and nonchalant acceptance of anti-Jewish attacks in less affluent suburbs with a high Muslim population is appalling.


Predictably, there was an outraged reaction.

Chancellor Angela Merkel went on Israeli television to denounce what she called a "different type of antisemitism" and that she was "saddened" that her country had not been able to snuff out antisemitism for good. She also admitted and lamented the fact that now Jewish schools, kindergartens and synagogues needed police protection.

"We have refugees now, for example, or people of Arab origin who bring a different type of antisemitism into the country. But unfortunately, antisemitism existed before this," she said in the interview.

She vowed that her government would respond "with full force and resolve" against antisemitism.

The Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted, "Jews shall never again feel threatened here."

Ms Merkel has never ever reconciled herself to the fact that inviting some one and a half million Muslim refugees to Germany she was also inviting a new virulent antisemitism.


Unfortunately for Germany's Jews they have heard all of this many times in the past. Ms Merkel did not bother to explain what she meant by a "different type of antisemitism" and Jews very understandably see attacks on them by Muslims as just the same sort of attacks made on their grandparents and great grandparents by Nazi thugs during the 1930s before the full horror of the Holocaust began.

After the attack, the Head of Germany's Central Council of Jews told an interviewer that while wearing the skullcap was right in principle, he advised Jews "against showing themselves openly with a Kippa in a big city setting in Germany and wear a baseball cap or something else to cover their head instead".  In other words, deny their Jewishness for their own safety.

The month before this attack and on the eve of his taking up his new post, Germany's first Anti-Semitism Commissioner Felix Klein told journalists in Berlin his own Jewish friends were telling him that they were considering leaving Germany because they feared for their own safety and that of their children.

"But we must do everything to avoid that," he said.

He added, "We've observed that Salafist and Islamic extremists seek to approach refugees in Germany and try to incite antisemitism and hatred. It is clearly the job of the intelligence services to take action against this."

Klein plans to set up a national registry to gather evidence of antisemitism and once this data is processed he hopes to design "tailor-made" strategies to combat the various forms of antisemitism. He believes that education is the key and he also wants to add a hate-crime charge to criminal cases with increased penalties in cases where antisemitism was part of the motive.

One proposal now being considered by the government is to require Muslim refugees to visit Nazi concentration camp memorials. The World Jewish Congress that represents Jewish communities in one hundred countries has welcomed the idea

Their President, Ronald S Lauder, said, "This proposal is an encouraging and effective method of educating people of all backgrounds about the Nazi attempt to wipe out the whole Jewish population of Europe and the dangers such hatred can yield."

Quite apart from the logistical nightmare and cost of getting hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants to these memorials several observers in Germany pointed out that Muslim extremists, rather than being horrified and repulsed by what they would see would actually gain some inspiration and encouragement.

Almost every day and not just in Germany but around the world where there are Muslims, there are tweets praising Hitler and his Jewish policy so the authors of such hatred would be more likely to applaud the grisly work done in Nazi concentration camps than be shocked.

The depth of antisemitism in Germany was shown on April 12 when a two-man rapper group won the prestigious Echo Prize, the Grammy of Germany, for a blatantly antisemitic song "0815" which included the line, for example, "My body is more defined than those of Auschwitz prisoners". One of the duo is an Arab from Morocco while the other is a Caucasian convert to Islam.

The prize is automatically awarded to the artists who sell more than anybody else and the embarrassed German Music Industry Association announced that the award would be scrapped permanently and that they would go back to the drawing board to try and devise a way to launch a new and different award. What made the award to the rapper duo even more distressing was that it happened on Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day.

After the award was announced, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted, "Antisemitic provocations do not deserve any prize, they are just disgusting."

One of the duo swiftly replied goading the Minister with, "To what degree are you protecting Jewish life if you support the mass immigration of people you consider antisemitic?" Understandably this low blow was telling and didn't get any response.

Today there are an estimated 200,000 Jews in Germany while the Muslim population is almost five million (6.1% of the total population) and growing rapidly. The average age of Muslims in Germany is 31, the average age of the rest of the population is 47 and Muslim women have, on average, 1.9 children while other non-Muslim women have, again on average, 1.4 children.

After Angela Merkel was shocked by the September 2017 election result which saw the anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany win seats in the Federal Parliament for the first time, she agreed to a demand by her junior coalition partner to limit Muslim immigration to 200,000 a year although this is flexible according to circumstances which really means no limit at all.

For German Jews it means reliving the frightening past.






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About the Author

Russell Grenning is a retired political adviser and journalist who began his career at the ABC in 1968 and subsequently worked for the then Brisbane afternoon daily, The Telegraph and later as a columnist for The Courier Mail and The Australian.

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