The German government’s anti-Semitism commissioner on Saturday warned the country’s Jewish community to avoid donning kippahs (traditional Jewish head coverings) in public spaces due to a rise in anti-Semitic crimes.
“I cannot advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere all the time in Germany,” Felix Klein said in an interview carried by the Fuke media group.
The official said he had “changed his mind (on the subject) compared to previously.”
The number of attacks against Jews in Germany increased from 1,504 in 2017 to 1,646 in 2018 – a rise of 10%. The number of reported violent cases against Jews rose from 37 to 62 over the same period, according to official figures.
Last year, a man wearing the Star of David was beaten down and kicked right in the center of Berlin. Some weeks earlier, a similar incident in Germany’s capital caused public outrage and sparked a nationwide debate on anti-Semitism when a 19-year-old Syrian attacked an Arab-Israeli and his companion with a belt in broad daylight. Both victims wore kippahs in what was an allegedly anti-Semitic attack.
‘Deep rooted’ prejudice
After several high-profile incidents of anti-Semitic violence, Germany’s Jewish community appealed to the government to institute an anti-Semitism oath for groups seeking public funding.
Germany’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, suggested that police, teachers and lawyers should be better trained to recognize what constitutes anti-Semitism.
According to Klein, “the lifting of inhibitions and the uncouthness which is on the rise in society” are factors behind the recent anti-Semitic wave.
“The internet and social media have largely contributed to this — but so have constant attacks against our culture of remembrance,” he added.
A few weeks earlier, Claudia Vanoni, Berlin’s top legal expert on anti-Semitism, said that anti-Semitism remains “deep rooted” in German society.
“Anti-Semitism has always been here. But I think that recently, it has again become louder, more aggressive and flagrant,” Vanoni told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
Analysts say the rise of far-right political groups in Germany has also contributed to anti-Semitism in the country. Parties like Alternative for Germany (AfD) openly question Germany’s culture of atonement for World War II. Some experts also attribute the new wave of anti-Semitism to the arrival of millions of asylum-seekers, mainly from Muslim-majority countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.