Germany got another stark reminder of the rise of anti-Semitism a few days ago when a young man wearing a kippah was attacked by a belt-wielding assailant in Berlin.
Video footage on Facebook showed the attacker shouting anti-Semitic abuses as he repeatedly struck one of two young men.
After the attack, a leading figure in the Jewish community in Germany urged Jews not to wear a kippah — traditional skullcaps — due to concerns over the recent rise in anti-Semitic attacks, as well as insults and threats. Jewish children have reported anti-Semitic bullying in schools and, during a recent protest in Berlin, Israeli flags were burned.
“Defiantly showing your colors would in principle be the right way to go,” Joseph Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany said on Berlin radio. “Nevertheless, I would advise individual people against openly wearing a kippah in big German cities.”
Schuster also said that “Our democracy would be at risk” if Germans refused to stand up to anti-Semitism. “This is not only about anti-Semitism,” he added. “It goes along with racism, it goes along with xenophobia. You need a clear stop sign here.”
Schuster suggested wearing ‘a baseball cap or something else’ to cover their head instead.
Other Jewish organizations suggested a very different approach however.
“I used to always advise my Jewish friends and acquaintances not to wear a kippah so as not to show their Jewish identity. I changed my opinion.”
A spokesperson of the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism in Berlin told the BBC. “We must take up this fight and be visible again in public”
The head of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims condemned recent anti-Semitic attacks.
“Anti-Semitism, racism and hatred are great sins in Islam, therefore we will never tolerate that,” Aiman Mazyek told Germany’s Rheinische Post newspaper.
Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced what she called “another form of anti-Semitism” saying threats were coming from both right-wing German groups and Arabic-speaking refugees in the country. “This is quite a horrifying incident, and we will react,” she said following a meeting last week with eastern German leaders.
The Berlin assault captured on video shows a young man being whipped by an assailant who shouted “Yahudi!”- The Arabic word for Jew.
The 21- year- old victim, Israeli Adam Armoush is heard to reply, “Jew or no Jew, you have to deal with it.”
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported in an interview with the victim that he was slightly injured and bruised by the belt.
“They kept cursing us and my friend asked them to stop cursing,” Armoush told Kann TV. “They started to get angry and one of them ran to me and I knew it was important to film it because there would be no way to catch him by the time the police arrived.” It appears the victim posted the video online.
“I’m not Jewish,” Armoush told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. “I’m an Israeli; I grew up in Israel in an Arab family.” The victim said he was conducting ‘an experiment’ in response to a friend’s warning that it was unsafe to wear a kippah in Germany. Armoush said he refused to believe it and wore the traditional Jewish skullcap to disprove the claim.
A 19-year-old Syrian ‘asylum seeker’ claiming to be the attacker turned himself in to police on Thursday after his attack sparked outrage across Germany. Police spokesman Winfrid Wenzel said the Syrian came to the police precinct with his lawyer.
Earlier this month even the German music industry dealt with accusations of anti-Semitism after a controversial rap duo won Best Hip-Hop award at Echo prizes. Lyrics on the winning album included that they will “make another Holocaust, show up with a Molotov”, and boasts that their bodies are “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners.”
The award triggered strong criticism from other artists and government officials with several past winners returning their own awards in protest.
On a brighter note, Germans and the Jewish community in Berlin donned skullcaps to protest anti-Semitism in a ‘Kippah March’ this Wednesday. 500 protesters took to the streets in a mass display of solidarity with Jewish community members. “An attack on Jews is an attack on us all” Berlin’s mayor said.
~ Conservative Zone