‘Drastic Increase’: Violent Anti-Semitic Attacks Soaring in Berlin

A participant shows a banner during a 'wear a kippah' gathering to protest against anti-Semitism in front of the Jewish Community House on April 25, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. The Jewish community made a public appeal for Jews and non-Jews to attend the event and wear a kippah as a …
Carsten Koall/Getty

Berlin has witnessed more than three times the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks in 2018 compared to the previous year, provisional police statistics reveal.

The German capital’s first commissioner for anti-Semitism, Claudia Vanoni, said just seven violent anti-Semitic attacks were recorded by police in 2017, compared to 24 incidents recorded between January and mid-December 2018.

Vanoni described it as a “drastic increase” in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung published earlier this week.

“I have the impression that anti-Semitism is becoming louder, more blatant and more aggressive,” she said, acknowledging Berlin law enforcement authorities wanted to take a stand and focus on “combating anti-Semitism.”

When asked why Berlin’s prosecution office needs a commissioner dedicated solely to combating to anti-Semitism, Vanoni said there had been an “increase in hatred against Jewish citizens.”

Any number of high-profile incidents against Jews were reported in Berlin in 2018, with some gaining more notoriety than others.

In April, a Jewish teenager wearing a traditional kippah was attacked on a Berlin street by a Muslim assailant who whipped him with a belt in an anti-Semitic attack.

Video of the incident shows the attacker – who was part of a gang of three – repeatedly whipping the teen with his belt while calling out, “Yahudi,” or “Jew” in Arabic, before he is stopped by a passerby.

After the belt attack, the head of the Jewish community in Germany, Joseph Schuster, said Jews should avoid wearing religious symbols in big cities due to a heightened risk of targeted attacks. Public marches were also called as a sign of support for the local Jewish community.

Vanoni refused to be drawn on the matter of ethnicity and the perpetrators of the attacks, saying instead the assailants come from all social groups.

Under German law, she said the crime falls under the category of “politically motivated crimes.”

When it comes to anti-Semitism among people in the Islam community, Vanoni said: “In my work, I often hear in conversations with Jewish organizations that Jews regard anti-Semitism among Muslims as an ever-increasing problem in Germany.

“Statistically, this cannot be proven unequivocally. But I take this concern very seriously.”

Germany’s Homeland Ministry has previously said they agree with proposals from Jewish leaders to strip anti-Semitic migrants of their right to remain in the country.

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