Monday, 25 Mar 2019 - 18 of Adar II, 5779

Rise of antisemitic incidents in Germany, French government points to ‘yellow vests’ antisemitic elements after spat of incidents

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BERLIN/PARIS—1,646 antisemitic incidents were officially reported to German authorities in 2018, a rise of 10%. 60 percent of the incidents were more violent attacks.

The numbers were published in answer to a request for information from German parliamentarian Petra Pau, a prominent leader of the left-wing socialist party Die Linke (“The Left”). Figures gathered by the German authorities showed an overall rise of 10 percent in antisemitic incidents compared to 2017, with 1,646 offenses reported last year.

Of those, 62 were classified as “violent crimes,” compared with 37 crimes in the same category in 2017.

A total of 43 people were injured in 2018’s violent incidents, while police said they had identified 857 suspects and made 19 arrests.

Jewish leaders have suggested that the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is largely responsible for the rise, with members having dubbed the Holocaust memorial in Berlin a “monument of shame,” and the Holocaust a “speck of bird poo in over 1,000 years of successful German history.”

At the same time, Jews have experienced increased attacks by Arabs who have migrated to Germany, including an incident last year in which a 19-year-old Syrian whipped an Israeli man with a belt, calling him yahudi, or “Jew” in Arabic.

Days later, hundreds of people rallied in support of the German Jewish community wearing traditional Jewish head coverings in an event called “Berlin Wears a Kippah.”

Germany’s government again reiterated its firm opposition to antisemitism in its response to the numbers. Ulrike Demmer — a spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel — emphasized that “there is no place for antisemitism in Germany.”

Jewish life in Germany must be allowed to “develop freely and safely,” Demmer stated.

Josef Schuster, who heads the Central Council of Jews in Germany, remarked in an interview with the BBC that what “had already solidified as a subjective impression among Jews is now confirmed in the statistics.”

“The latest numbers are not yet official, but at least they reflect a tendency — and that’s scary,” Schuster said.

“Considering that acts below the threshold for criminal liability are not covered, the picture becomes even darker,” he added.

Last year, the German government appointed a career diplomat,  Felix Klein, as the country’s first federal commissioner charged with combating antisemitism. In successive interviews, Klein identified both the far right and elements within Germany’s various Muslim communities as responsible for the increase in offenses against Jews.

Anti-Semitism in France : government points to ‘yellow vests’

In France, where a series of antisemitic incidents occurred over the weekeend, the government has  vowed a tough response.

Government spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux called on law enforcement to catch the suspects while implying the latest wave of attacks could be attributed to far-left and far-right activists who have penetrated weekly “yellow vest” social protests against French President Emmanuel Macron’s government.

“We’re not talking about the protesters who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Griveaux on France 2 television. “But those who are committing violent acts, openly anti-Semitic or racist acts, they must be charged and severely punished.”

The latest string of anti-Semitic attacks includes a tree commemorating Ilan Halimi, a a young French Jewish man who was tortured to death in 2006 being cut off, the word “Juden” (German for “Jew”) scribbled on the window of a Paris bagel bakery, and swastikas drawn on Paris mailboxes decorated with a picture of former government minister and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil, who died in 2017.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Monday that the number of recorded anti-Semitic acts soared by 74 percent in 2018.

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