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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.

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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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