With anti-Semitic hate crimes on the rise in Germany, the leader of the country’s Jewish community says it may be wise for Jews to hide their identity in public.
“Concealing yourself is not the answer… But, the question is
whether, in areas with a large proportion of Muslims, in Berlin
and elsewhere, it is sensible to be recognized as a Jew by
wearing a kippa [traditional Jewish skullcap] or if it isn’t
better to wear some other form of head covering,” Josef
Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews, told Berlin’s
“I did not imagine this situation five years ago, and I am
Bolstered by recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union,
Germany has a relatively small Jewish community of about 105,000.
Last year, the authorities recorded 1,076 hate crimes against
Jews, up from 790 the year before.
As well as physical violence and intimidation, Jewish graves have
been desecrated, and swastikas daubed on synagogues.
A survey in September last year showed that nearly one in five
German citizens believe that the Jews are at least partly
responsible for the persecution.
Anti-Israel demonstrations following the IDF’s operation against
Gaza last summer descended into anti-Semitic displays on at least
several occasions, with Muslim-dominated crowds chanting “Gas
the Jews!” and “Jew, cowardly pig, come on out and
fight!” Surveyed in September, one in four Germans said that
Hitler’s campaign of extermination of Jews, which led to over 6
million deaths, was no worse than IDF actions in Palestine.
“Muslim organizations do not do enough to distance themselves
from anti-Semitism, particularly when they are working with young
people,” Schuster said.
There are approximately 5 million Muslims in Germany, and there
are more Muslims in Berlin, predominantly of Turkish origin, than
Jews in the entire country.
— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) January
Germany, which rebuilt itself as a beacon of tolerance following
World War II, has been struggling with growing ethnic and
religious tensions in recent months. Anti-Islamist movement
Pegida, whose weekly demonstrations gathered upwards of 20,000
people in Dresden alone at the end of last year, before it was
rocked by a series of controversies, has unsettled the
Last week, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu called for Jews to
return to Israel, following a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes
not just in Germany, but in France and other European states.