AJC concerned by the high number of acts of anti-Semitism in Berlin
February 27, 2017
AJC Berlin is alarmed by the most recent report from the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism (RIAS), which shows a renewed rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin. According to the report, the number of reported anti-Semitic acts rose by 16% in 2016 as compared to the previous year.
“This report makes clear that anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin are at a disconcertingly high level. The information corresponds to the information we have been hearing from members of the Jewish community. Due to growing fear of attacks and harassment, ever fewer members of the Jewish community Jews feel comfortable acknowledging their identity in public. At the same time, those affected firsthand have described a dramatic increase in the amount of anti-Semitism online, made possible by the anonymity of the internet,” said Deidre Berger, the Director of the AJC Berlin Ramer Institute for German-Jewish relations. “It is not just violent offences that create a climate of fear,” she added, “it is the supposedly minor incidents and casual expressions of resentment and hatred that also contribute to this climate.”
RIAS tallied 470 anti-Semitic incidents in the German capital in 2016. Of these, 17 were physical attacks, 18 were threats, 53 were cases of vandalism against Jewish property or Jewish memorial sites and 382 were cases of hateful behavior such as taunts, graffiti, or hate mail.
Faced with these alarming numbers, Berger repeated her call for the German government to appoint a dedicated official tasked with confronting the problem: “Since 2008 we have strongly urged the appointment of a Federal Commissioner for Anti-Semitism Affairs. This is an essential step to guarantee consistent work at the federal level combating anti-Semitism, with the implementation of long-term concepts. On February 21st, in a highly lauded speech before the State Parliament of Lower Saxony, the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dr. Josef Schuster, also called on the government to create such a position.”
Berger urges that RIAS’s laudable monitoring work on anti-Semitism be expanded on a nationwide basis: „ RIAS has done outstanding work since 2015 that has been responsible for bringing to light many unreported cases of anti-Semitism in Berlin. An important factor in this success has been RIAS’s use of the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism, adopted in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which gives a comprehensive definition of anti-Semitism that accounts for its various manifestations. We regard the expansion of RIAS’s work to all of the German states as a vital step toward understanding the true scope of the problem.”
The full report of the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism can be accessed (in German) here: https://report-antisemitism.de/media/bericht-vorfaelle-2016.pdf