Attacks against Jews rose almost 10 percent in Germany last year, with violent acts soaring by more than 60 percent alone, latest crime statistics reveal.
Police recorded 1,646 offenses motivated by antisemitism, according to a government answer to a request by far-left Die Linke party lawmaker Petra Pau.
Among these were 62 violent offenses that left 43 people injured, up from 37 physical attacks the previous year.
In one prominent 2018 case, a 19-year-old Syrian man was convicted for assault after lashing out with his belt at an Israeli man wearing a Jewish kippa skullcap while shouting “yahudi”, Jew in Arabic.
A video of the street assault, filmed by the victim on his smartphone, had sparked widespread public revulsion as it spread on social media, and triggered street rallies in solidarity with Jews.
News of the belt attack coincided with another public outcry, over a rap duo who made light of Nazi death camp prisoners but went on to win the music industry’s sales-based Echo award, which was subsequently axed.
Days after the belt assault, some 2,000 people rallied at a “Berlin Wears Kippa” solidarity demonstration, matched by smaller events in several other German cities.
A mass influx of mostly Muslim, Arab refugees and migrants to Germany from 2015 onwards has corresponded to the sharp uptick in figures, with Germany’s Central Council of Jews saying last November it wants to combat antisemitism among new Arab-Muslim migrants through a government education program.
Vice President Abraham Lehrer told the Protestant Press Service he believes antisemitism among immigrants will become more of a problem as they become more settled in Germany, Welt reported.
“The problem of immigrant Arab-Islamic anti-Semitism still lies ahead of us. Many of these people were influenced by regimes in which anti-Semitism is part of the rationale of the state and the Jewish state is denied the right to existence,” Mr. Lehrer said.
Germany’s population of 82.8 million now includes only about 200,000 Jews. Berlin has the biggest concentration, about 40,000. Before Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party came to power, Germany had a Jewish population of about 500,000.
A report conducted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) of 21 schools in Berlin showed the level of anti-Semitism growing among the primarily Turkish and Arab Muslim pupils last year. The group also found a disturbing rise in support for radical Islamism, according to German broadcaster RBB.
Dr. Felix Klein, the German government’s first special envoy to the Jewish community has also warned that Jews’ fear over the influx of Muslim, Arab refugees is legitimate.
Dr. Klein echoed German Chancellor Angela Merkel who warned last April that Muslim immigrants have added a new strain of antisemitism to German culture by holding Jews solely responsible for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
AFP contributed to this report