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German Government Tells Jews: Don't Look Like Jews

Photo by Jens Büttner/picture alliance via Getty Image
 

According to Germany’s government commissioner on anti-Semitism, Jews in his country should stop wearing kippahs (skullcaps) in public lest they incur the wrath of anti-Semites.

 

Quoted in an interview published on Saturday by the Funke regional press group, Felix Klein, whose job was created in 2018, stated, “I cannot advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere, all the time, in Germany.” Klein posited that “the lifting of inhibitions and the uncouthness which is on the rise in society” had contributed to the soaring rise in anti-Semitism, commenting, “The internet and social media have largely contributed to this, but so have constant attacks against our culture of remembrance.” Klein added he had “changed his mind compared to previously.”

The Guardian notes, “Antisemitic hate crimes rose by 20% in Germany last year, according to interior ministry data, which blamed nine out of ten cases on the extreme right. There were 62 violent antisemitic attacks, compared to 37 in 2017. “

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin responded on Sunday, saying that he was "shocked" by Klein’s recommendation, continuing, “Fears about the security of German Jews are a capitulation to anti-Semitism and an admittance that, again, Jews are not safe on German soil. We will never submit, will never lower our gaze and will never react to anti-Semitism with defeatism — and expect and demand our allies act in the same way.”

Richard Grenell, U.S. ambassador to Germany, added on Twitter, “The opposite is true. Wear your kippa. Wear your friend’s kippa. Borrow a kippa and wear it for our Jewish neighbors. Educate people that we are a diverse society.”

In April 2018, Klein noted that some of the rising anti-Semitism in Germany came from immigrants from the Middle East. He asserted:

 

There are several developments. One, of course, is the great influx of refugees and people who came to Germany that were raised and educated in countries that are still in the state of war with Israel, or that have been brought up with certain perceptions of Jews in Israel that are totally unacceptable to a German society. So we’re facing an integration problem. Because, of course, these people do not leave that image of Jews in Israel when they enter Germany … We have Palestinians in Germany that have lived here for a long time, and we see that crimes and incidents are also committed at a high percentage by people from that group.

Klein quickly added, “I would not say that generally Arabs or Muslims are anti-Semitic. That’s not true. You can’t generalize it. But of course there’s a certain image of Jews that is not acceptable.”

Asked which was more pervasive, anti-Semitism from Muslim immigrants or from the far-Right, Klein answered:

 

I wouldn’t like to prioritize the kind of anti-Semitism to combat first. It is generally unacceptable. But what I think is particularly difficult, and absolutely unacceptable, is the way the extreme right is threatening and insulting Jews, also with historical prejudices and arguments. That’s particularly insulting to them. Whereas I think more aggression and physical attacks maybe generally fall more into the category of anti-Semitic attacks that are motivated by Muslims.

The Jerusalem Post noted:

According to the interior ministry, right-wing extremists committed 90% of the 1,800 incidents in 2018. The real number of Islamic-animated antisemitic attacks in Germany is not well documented due to authorities characterizing Islamic antisemitism as right-wing antisemitism.

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