SZ podcast “On the Point” – News from December 21, 2020 – Politics

Ultimately, only the door at the entrance to the synagogue in Halle prevented the massacre of a right-wing terrorist on a Jewish community. Nevertheless, the perpetrator shot two people at random. Now he has been sentenced to life imprisonment with subsequent preventive detention for particularly serious guilt.

There was no alternative to the judgment, says SZ court reporter Annette Ramelsberger. The perpetrator showed no trace of remorse and only regretted not having killed more people. He is trapped in his world of hatred and conspiracy stories, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and misogyny. The judge did not give the perpetrator a stage for self-expression, but instead focused attention on the victims.

Related news: EMA gives green light to corona vaccine. Virus mutation in the UK, US Congress passes $ 900 billion in aid.

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The Julie Burchill case: Everyone has the right to write stupid stuff

DThe British Julie Burchill’s core business is insulting. Now she has verbally abused a Muslim colleague and was canceled by her publisher. The polemicist also misunderstood Islam.

The journalist Ash Sarkar, absolutely politically correct in the British context (Muslim, “libertarian-communist”, anti-fascist, anti-racist, anti-Zionist, university-educated, pro-Corbyn) accused Julie Burchill of “publicly subjecting her to Islamophobia” in a tweet to have. Allegedly – Sarkar quoted the insult on Twitter – Burchill tweeted that Sarkar “adores a pedophile”. Which of course is nonsense.


Rabbis in the Bundeswehr: Military secret Jewish soldiers

The Bundeswehr would like to be diverse and cosmopolitan. In addition, the Ministry of Defense is apparently distributing incorrect numbers about Jewish soldiers.

Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) with Central Council President Josef Schuster Photo: Christian Ditsch / image

BERLIN taz | The Ministry of Defense would like to stage the Bundeswehr as a mirror image of society. Scandals about missing ammunition and right-wing extremist suspected cases are a nuisance. A few military rabbis and a large number of Jewish soldiers, on the other hand, come in handy.

At the beginning of next year, the first of ten military rabbis will therefore begin their service in the Bundeswehr. For this purpose, a military rabbinate – a separate religious authority – is set up, with almost 50 posts in a 1000 square meter office in Berlin. The whole thing should cost just under four and a half million euros annually, with 900,000 euros on top in the first year. The authority should primarily take care of the religious needs of Jewish soldiers: These include, for example, observance of the Torah commandments and ensuring kosher meals. Only: How many Jews are there in the Bundeswehr who would justify this effort?

The Ministry of Defense claims that around 300 Jewish soldiers are in their service. This means there are more Jews in the Bundeswehr than in the general population. Even if this number were correct, there would be one rabbi for every 30 Jewish soldiers. According to the state treaty with the Protestant and Catholic Churches, a Christian military chaplain is to be used for 1,500 believing soldiers each.

Research by the taz has already shown that the number of 300 Jewish soldiers is likely to be far exaggerated – and that Jewish soldiers were apparently not asked whether they wanted religious support at all. The honorary chairman of the Union of Jewish Soldiers, Michael Fürst, told the taz that he only knew six Jews in active military service. And most of them are not religious. Now it becomes clear: The Ministry of Defense also knew that the number 300 was far too high – and spread it anyway.

On request: silence

But where does this number come from? The Ministry of Defense had admitted to the taz that the number was an “extrapolation”. The basis for this is a study by the Center for Military History and Social Science, a scientific institute that is part of the Bundeswehr. In 2013, the institute surveyed 7,744 soldiers on the Bundeswehr intranet, including questions about their religious beliefs.

Call one of the authors of the study: Are there 300 Jews in the Bundeswehr? “You can’t infer that from that,” she says. “From the perspective of the social scientist, I can say: We don’t have any valid numbers”.

The scientist emphasizes that in the survey they deliberately did not ask about denomination, but rather to which faith a soldier feels associated. It is not possible to determine the number of Jews in the Bundeswehr on this basis.

When asked to send the study to the taz, the author first accepts. Then she only replies with a reference to the press office. A short time later, the Ministry of Defense said that the study was an internal report. Other parts of the study, for example on the topic of Inner Leadership, are available to the public in numerous libraries.

300 Jewish soldiers? Or is it more like 50?

Some of the results that the ministry does not want to make public are now available to the taz. The statistical extrapolation to the entire Bundeswehr did not result in 300 soldiers, but a value between 51 and 294. That is slightly lower than the possible number of followers of pagan-Germanic religions or Buddhism.

On April 5, 2013, the authors presented the results to the Ministry of Defense. That the number of soldiers who feel connected to Judaism could just as easily be only 50, that no questions were asked about religiousness or membership of a community, all of this was known to the Bundeswehr – and was apparently ignored in order to make one clear to be able to spread high numbers.

The Bundeswehr would not have to resort to any studies or dubious projections to record the number of Jewish soldiers. Unlike Muslim communities, Jewish communities are legally equal to the two large churches. As a rule, the state collects church tax or cult tax for them. In this way, the state should also know how many of its soldiers belong to Jewish communities.

In response to a small inquiry from the left-wing faction this year, the federal government was able to say exactly how many Protestant (53,451) and how many Catholic soldiers (40,889) are currently on duty.

Incorrect information also towards members of parliament?

At the request of the taz, however, the Ministry of Defense refuses to give the number of Jews in the Bundeswehr who are subject to culture tax. It refers to the Federal Office of Administration, an authority of the Ministry of the Interior, and to the Federal Central Tax Office. Both authorities reply to the taz that this data is not available to them but only to the personnel administration of the Bundeswehr.

One last attempt, this time at the Federal Office for Personnel Management of the Bundeswehr. There it says first of all that the taz will be happy to provide the number, broken down by gender and rank. One officer is talkative: He believes there are no Jews at all in the Bundeswehr, or very few. A day later it was said that the figures were available, but were “not valid” and could therefore not be published: “That is not the correct result,” says a spokeswoman. Only: who decides?

According to information from the personnel administration, in addition to the note on the religious tax, there is also a further, voluntary information on religious affiliation in the Bundeswehr database. The spokeswoman for the taz does not want to name this either.

The suspicion that the members of the Bundestag were incorrectly informed about the number of Jewish soldiers weighs heavily: When the law on Jewish military pastoral care was debated in the Bundestag in May, members of the SPD, CDU, AfD and FDP had the number of 300 Jewish soldiers repeated. The bill was passed unanimously by all political groups. That happens extremely rarely.

Several MPs from the Defense Committee confirm to the taz that the number 300 was repeatedly mentioned as a justification. “If that had been known in the form that there might hardly be more Jewish soldiers than the ten planned military rabbis, the law would not have found a majority,” said a member of the taz’s defense committee.


Pauline Baer de Perignon, in search of lost works

Published on :

Literary director in the audiovisual sector for ten years, reader and co-author of scripts, Pauline Baer de Perignon has led numerous writing workshops. “La collection disparue”, published by Éditions Stock, is his first book.

Cover of the book by Pauline Baer de Perignon
Cover of the book by Pauline Baer de Perignon © Stock

“It all started with a list of paintings scribbled down by a cousin I barely knew. On this piece of paper, Impressionist masterpieces, Renoir, Monet, Degas, exhibited today in the greatest museums in the world, all of which once belonged to my great-grandfather, Jules Strauss.

I didn’t know anything about its history, or about its missing collection. These few hastily written words would change my life, leading me from the Louvre to the Dresden Museum, from the Gestapo archives to the Ministry of Culture.

For three years, with my curiosity and a taste for enigmas for all baggage, I set out on the trail of my ancestors, in search of Jules Strauss, and of a story that has not been passed on to me. What happened in 1942? What was left of his collection when the family apartment was raided by the Nazis?

I am not an art historian, I simply wanted to conduct an investigation, police and sentimental, in the footsteps of my family, Jewish, despoiled. ” Pauline Baer de Perignon for the Stock editions.


In Europe, the Jewish population has shrunk by 60% in 50 years

Europe has lost almost 60% of its Jewish population over the past 50 years, mainly due to the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the opening of the borders, many Jews then left Eastern Europe for Israel and, to a lesser extent, the United States and Germany. As a result, around 9% of the world’s Jewish population lives in Europe today, up from nearly 90% at the end of the 19th century.

These figures come from a report published Wednesday, October 21, by theInstitute for Jewish Policy Research, an independent research institute based in London. In total, around 1.3 million Jews live in Europe in 2020, or around 0.1% of the continent’s population. Two-thirds of them live in France, UK and Germany. The authors of the report estimate the number of Jews living in France at 448,000 in 2019, compared to 292,000 in the UK and 275,000 in Germany.

Between the late 18th and 19th centuries, the report explains, the number of Jews in the world grew to over 10 million, and climbed further to 16.5 million on the eve of World War II. Most of this growth has occurred in Eastern Europe, then America, and then Palestine and Israel. The murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust reduced that population to around 11 million, “ radically disrupting what had hitherto been the continued construction and transformation of the European Jewish community ».

A radical change in the center of gravity

In 1880, 88% of the world’s Jews lived in Europe. In 1945, this percentage fell to 35%, then to 26% in 1970 and to 9% in 2020. Most of this decline occurred in Eastern Europe, which in 2020 accounts for 2% of the population. world Jewish population against 26%, in 1945. ” The opening of the gates of the Soviet Union “Caused the departure of more than 1.8 million Jews from Eastern Europe between 1969 and 2020, the report points out, resulting in” a radical change in the center of gravity of the Jewish population from the east to the west of the continent ».

The study also reveals that nearly 70,000 Israel-born Jews now live permanently in Europe, of which around 25% are in the UK. The vast majority of European Jews – including 90% of British Jews – do not actively plan to emigrate to Israel or elsewhere. Between 75,000 and 100,000 Jews have left France since 2000, but some of them have returned.

Mixed marriages

A minority of European Jewish families have more than five children, with the highest proportion (24%) being in Belgium, which has a large ultra-Orthodox population. Belgium, along with Austria, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, is among the European countries where the Jewish population remains stable or increasing slightly.

Poland has around 4,500 Jews, more than three-quarters of whom are married to non-Jews. Mixed marriages have been ” a major factor in the erosion of the size of the Jewish population The report notes, the children of these families are often not brought up in the Jewish religion.

Hungarian and Polish Jews very attached to the EU

The report also measures the attachment of Jews to the European Union in twelve of the twenty-seven member states. European Jews are clearly divided into two blocs. In most of Western Europe (eight countries), a minority (between 8 and 21%) manifest a ” strong attachment »In the EU, a proportion barely higher than in the rest of the population. In contrast, in Eastern Europe, especially Hungary and Poland, around half of Jews say they are very attached to the EU, a significantly higher proportion than in the non-Jewish population.


From Liz Taylor to Gal Gadot, too pale Cleopatra?

We can imagine the brainstorming between feverish agents stuck on Zoom: “What other ‘powerful woman’ could therefore embody Gal Gadot while keeping this empowerment mix, golden finery and miniskirt?” Cleopatra! Already done ? Not like that, swears the Israeli star, now one of Hollywood’s biggest cachets. “We are going to tell this story through the eyes of women, in front of and behind the camera”, enlisting Patty Jenkins, director of the two Wonder Woman of DC / Warner (the sequel saw its release pushed back by the pandemic) and screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis (behind theAlexandre d’Oliver Stone).

Ce pitch pseudo-woke (that is to say “progressive” according to the zeitgeist) will not have held a quarter of an hour on the ruthless social networks, triggering the most boring, even stinking controversy of the week, the grievances legitimate around the diversity on the screen finding itself quickly covered by antisemitic hints and endless debates on the color of the “real” Cleopatra, even more mysterious than the curve of her nasal ridge for archaeologists.


There are those who consider the Egyptian to be an Arab or African heroine, a historical figure again “whitened” by Hollywood. From Yul Brynner to Australian self-tanner Joel Edgerton in Ramses II at Ridley Scott’s, peplums, from the golden age to post-Gladiator, have always cast whites on thrones and minorities to hold the fan, while we now know the Roman Empire (of which Cleopatra’s Egypt was part) much more mixed than that.

The pro-Gadot troops, starting with the scribe Kalogridis, opened a counterfire by arguing that the descendant of the Ptolemies – even if several historians believe that the dynasty necessarily mingled with the natives by dint of orgies – was before all “Greco-Macedonian”.

Mediterranean therefore. Just like Gadot, his defenders advance. This is where the Israeli-Arab conflict takes place, far from the debate on the color chart. Israeli, Ashkenazi Jewish, the very smooth Gal Gadot remains for the majority of the Arab world an intruder in the Middle East (Wonder Woman was even censored in Lebanon), repeatedly referred to her military service in the ranks of the IDF and to her condemnations of Hamas during the 2014 war in Gaza. “After stealing the lands of the Arabs, you steal their roles”, launched on Twitter Sameera Khan, ex-Miss New Jersey who became a journalist at Russia Today.

More than yet another modern identity fight, the controversy is terribly vintage. In 1962, the choice of “Zionist” Liz Taylor to play the Queen of the Nile had ulcerated Nasser, Egyptian president and champion of pan-Arabism. The English actress had converted a few years earlier to Judaism and raised funds for Israel at charity galas, leading to the boycott of her films and the impossibility of filming in the land of the pharaohs. But in 1964, Cairo backed down. With 122 mentions of the word “Egypt”, Mankiewicz’s monumental kitchery was considered the best publicity possible for the country.

Guillaume Gendron correspondent in Tel Aviv


Commemoration of the attack in Halle: even more love

A year after the attack on the Halle synagogue, the victims were commemorated. The deed has not been forgotten, but the hatred has not won either.

Is combative: Max Privorozki (left), head of the Jewish community in Halle Photo: Ronny Hartmann / afp

HALLE / BERLIN taz | On Friday afternoon they stand in the courtyard of the Jewish synagogue in Halle: Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey, Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff, Halle’s Lord Mayor Bernd Wiegand. The police have cordoned off the street, the politicians are unveiling a memorial, laying flowers and lowering their heads. Now are all there.

A year ago the Jewish community in Halle was still alone.

On October 9, 2019, shortly after 12 noon, right-wing extremist Stephan B. drove up to the synagogue, heavily armed. The congregation just celebrated Yom Kippur, their highest holiday there. The uniformed 28-year-old wanted to cause a massacre and broadcast it live on the Internet. Police were not on site at the time, and the community was not considered to be at risk. Stephan B. failed anyway, at the locked entrance door to the synagogue. But he shot two other people: the passer-by Jana L. and the painter trainee Kevin L., who was having lunch in the nearby Kiezdöner. The assassin continued to kill there, now out of racist hatred.

The deed was and is a beacon. Politicians reacted horrified and initiated packages of measures. The attack is still being negotiated before the Magdeburg Regional Court. On Friday, on the first anniversary, commemorations in Halle commemorated the act. At noon, at 12:01 p.m., the bells rang across the city. In the evening Steinmeier spoke in the Ulrichskirche, at the central memorial event, of “shame and anger”, which he continues to feel about the attack. Demanded better protection of Jewish institutions. And to show a stance against anti-Semitism. This is a seismograph for the state of democracy, said the Federal President. The more openly he expresses himself, the more strongly the values ​​of human dignity are challenged.

And it became clear: the wounds may not have healed, but hatred has not triumphed either.

Even after the attack, no services were canceled

In the afternoon, Max Privorozki, the community leader, also stands in the synagogue courtyard. He was in the prayer house during the attack, along with 51 other believers, some of whom have come from Berlin. After the attack, no service was canceled, said Privorozki in a conversation in advance. The first Shabbat was very well attended, including the Jewish Culture Days. And yet nothing was normal anymore. The believers received psychological support, politicians and journalists stormed the community.

Then came the corona pandemic. Initially, only 19 believers were allowed into the synagogue. The Passover festival was canceled for the first time since 1945, and the memory of the Shoah victims had to take place virtually. For the Jewish New Year, traditionally celebrated with a festive meal, there were only food parcels home.

“It is difficult to speak of normality,” says Privorozki. Most of all, people in their mid-fifties today are exhausted. He is startled when he hears helicopters in the sky – just like a year ago over the synagogue. New Year’s Eve was also a burden. The community itself has hardly spoken about the attack recently. But certainly about security issues. Recently, prayers alerted the police because a stranger was filming in front of the synagogue entrance. The incident had no consequences, but shows the tension.

The synagogue door becomes a monument

Lidia Edel is also standing in the synagogue courtyard this Friday. “Today everyone carries on with their life, but of course the attack stays in the back of everyone’s mind,” says the 20-year-old. Edel has been part of the Halle community for years, giving children and young people art lessons there – even if she is not Jewish at all. Noble, however, belongs to the city’s Eastern European community, which is strongly represented in the municipality. When the attack happened she was at home and a friend was in the synagogue. Edel heard about the attack from her – and how the door held out.

The door is the reason why Lidia Edel also takes part in the commemoration on Friday. Because it was she who designed the monument that has now been unveiled. Central element: the synagogue door, which was shot through and replaced a few weeks ago. “Everyone wanted the door not to go away. But nobody knew exactly what to do with it, ”says Edel. “That’s when I had the idea of ​​an artistic redesign, because the symbolic power of the door is obvious.” The community approved the suggestion.

The monument now shows the door, encircled by an oak tree in the shape of a hand. 52 sheets hang behind the door, two in front of it. They stand for the 52 believers who were in the synagogue during the attack – and for Jana L. and Kevin S. Two more sheets have been added, which stand for the other injured who Stephan B. shot at. The memorial should remember all of these victims, says Edel. “But it is also a warning not to suppress anything. And it shows that life goes on, that everything is a cycle. “

Just recently another attack in Hamburg

Life goes on, but the danger remains. The police counted 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes nationwide in 2019, an increase of 13 percent. Only recently did a man hit a young believer in front of a synagogue in Hamburg with a spade. Again he was in uniform, again on a public holiday, this time the Feast of Tabernacles. The memory of Halle was immediately there. The fear in the Jewish community too.

The believers who experienced the attack in Halle also last described in the Magdeburg trial how they were sometimes still in therapy, how they suffered from anti-Semitism. Christina Feist, a philosophy doctoral student who has since moved to Paris, said it was “the sad everyday life of our everyday life”. “In Germany I live in fear.” You and others also criticized the police: after the fact, officials treated them insensitively without knowing the traditions on Yom Kippur. And far too little has been determined about the right-wing extremist network of the assassin.

Max Privorozki at least praises the security situation of his synagogue today. “Cooperation with the police is now different,” he says. There is constant contact, the officials know about all activities of the community. A police container is in front of the synagogue. But the truth also includes: Behind the scenes, the Jewish community in Saxony-Anhalt negotiated a security agreement with the state until the end. And this despite the fact that the interior ministers had unanimously promised better protection of Jewish institutions after the attack.

Long struggle for security agreement

Even if Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) put another 22 million euros into the budget for this purpose: Some municipalities complain that they are petitioners to this day when it comes to their safety; would have to take care of fences or their own security personnel. Saxony-Anhalt announced an agreement on Tuesday: The state will completely protect Jewish facilities, pay for renovations and security personnel, and invest 2.4 million euros in this. You are entering “new territory” nationwide. Privorozki was satisfied – now it is a matter of implementing the open list of security modifications for his community. “There is still a lot to do.”

When the community celebrated Yom Kippur again almost two weeks ago, this time because of Corona in the city’s cultural meeting place, the police showed their presence. Some of the believers from Berlin were there again. Of course, he couldn’t get the attack out of his head, says Privorozki. They prayed for the murdered Jana and Kevin. But it was a relief to say the closing prayer of Yom Kippur this time – which he was no longer able to do a year ago.

Prime Minister Haseloff also attended the service at noon and gave a short speech. It was supposed to be a sign of solidarity, but not everyone took it that way. Christina Feist then complained about a “PR showpiece” that the prayers on Yom Kippur had again been disrupted. Privorozki contradicts: he himself invited the delegation, the speech was “a nice sign”.

An anti-Semitic submission by the Interior Minister

Still, it wasn’t the only dissonance in the end. Only a few days ago, Saxony-Anhalt’s Minister of the Interior, Holger Stahlknecht, calculated the deployment times of police officers in front of Jewish institutions in the state – which would be missing elsewhere. An anti-Semitic steep template. Privorozki, who otherwise holds back politically, was outraged. “I couldn’t believe my ears.” The sentence is unbearable, it creates social unrest. And the community leader openly expresses this criticism on Friday at the commemoration in the Ulrichskirche, in which Stahlknecht also takes part.

After the attack, the community experienced one thing above all else: solidarity. When Privorozki recently testified at the Magdeburg trial, he reported on the rallies, the first on the day of the crime. The perpetrator belongs to an “absolute minority”. The majority would consist of “good people”.

At the commemoration on Friday in the synagogue courtyard, Privorozki also presented a thick book. This includes letters from all over the world that the community received after the attack, says the community leader. “That was encouraging.”

Solidarity among those affected

The victims of the attack also show solidarity with each other: some believers have now networked with those affected from the Kiezdöner. They spoke together at rallies, met this week for a festival in Berlin. On Wednesday, Privorozki informed the takeaway operator Ismet Tekin that his community would buy him food vouchers worth 1,000 euros. At the same time, the Jewish Student Union presented Tekin with just under 30,000 euros in donations that it had collected because business had faltered after the attack.

In the end, the attack also ensured: self-assertion. In the process, those affected repeatedly affirmed that they would continue their lives and their faith. Jewish life will continue to flourish in Germany. Ismet Tekin said to the assassin in the face: “You have failed all along the line. The result is even more solidarity and love. ”Privorozki also declared:“ After October 9th, I feel more at home here than before. ”

In his congregation, Yom Kippur believers remembered how the Jewish people never lost their optimism, even in the worst of times. It should apply again this time. On the holiday, the believers began to collect donations for a new Torah scroll.


Felix Klein one year after the attack in Halle: “Fears are back”

One year after the attack in Halle, the anti-Semitism officer Felix Klein worries about the Jewish community – and criticizes Saxony-Anhalt’s interior minister.

This is where the assassin failed a year ago: the door to the synagogue in Halle Photo: Hendrik Schmidt / dpa

taz: Mr. Klein, A year ago a right-wing extremist attacked the synagogue in Halle and killed two people. Do you remember how you found out about it back then?

Felix Klein: Yes, my wife and I were on the way from the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial back to Berlin. It was a shock to me as it was to everyone. We had just launched important structures against anti-Semitism, a federal-state commission, the Rias reporting system. And then that. I felt very powerless.

The perpetrator wanted to cause a massacre. Only the synagogue door prevented him from doing so. Would you have thought such an act possible?

I thought that an attack was possible. Especially when you saw how radical the tone was on the Internet. But I did not expect such a hateful, inhuman act in this dimension.

The synagogue was not protected by the police at the time. An unforgivable mistake?

It would have been unforgivable if it had happened willfully. But apparently the police didn’t even know that Yom Kippur was being celebrated there and that there was an increased need for security.

But that’s also a problem.

the lawyer and diplomat is the Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish life and the fight against anti-Semitism.

Yes of course. That was a negligence that is unacceptable. And this anti-Semitic attack, which ultimately cost the lives of two non-Jews, was also a turning point. He shook up the security authorities. Today the community in Halle is permanently guarded. And the police have evolved, the handling of religious holidays has improved.

A few days ago, however, a man attacked a believer in front of a synagogue in Hamburg, seriously injuring him. How safe do Jews still live in Germany?

Hamburg has shown that this time protective measures took effect. The police had the holiday on their radar there. And the police property guards immediately arrested the attacker and prevented further violence.

But not the attack on the young believer.

There can be no absolute protection. But of course the attack should be an occasion to re-examine the security measures in front of Jewish institutions.

So too little has happened since the attack in Halle?

In my opinion the opposite is the case. The federal government and the states are doing their utmost here. The Federal Ministry of the Interior has just made available 22 million euros for structural protection measures, and the federal states have also taken money into their hands again. In addition, the federal government has launched a comprehensive package of measures, such as the obligation to report online hate postings to the BKA, which I expect a lot from in the fight against anti-Semitism. Because the clientele backs away when they receive counter pressure and the police are at the door. And we saw in Halle that the root of the threat was radicalization on the Internet.

Is that enough? After the Hamburg attack, the Central Council of Jews once again called for more protection for religious institutions and a resolute social commitment against anti-Semitism.

There are certainly further opportunities for improvement. For example, I would like the police nationwide to know the Jewish calendar and on which occasions special protection is necessary. And it is also correct that the state cannot resolve the matter alone. This requires a courageous civil society that counteracts when anti-Semitism is expressed. That is the most important thing. I think the best protection would be if Jewish life were perceived much more as something that is taken for granted, as part of German diversity. We have to do more for that.

After the attack in Halle and the attack in Hambrug, the situation is different: the Jewish community feels seriously threatened.

Yes, that’s how I perceive it, she is very worried. And that is also very understandable. After politics reacted to Halle, my impression was that the community had settled down somewhat. But now the fears are back. We have to take that very seriously.

Isn’t that an indictment of poverty, especially for Germany with its history?

These concerns must alarm us, absolutely. The very fact that Jewish families are discussing whether they can continue to live in Germany is more than an alarm signal.

As the anti-Semitism commissioner, you report to the federal government. Don’t you have to put more pressure on in view of this?

We are making a significant effort. The Chancellor herself is also very committed. Everyone is aware of the seriousness of the situation.

But many of those affected say: we don’t want more encouragement, we want to see action.

It has already existed. Many of the measures decided must now be implemented first. Nevertheless, there will be another catalog of measures shortly, from the cabinet committee to combat right-wing extremism.

Last year the number of anti-Semitic crimes rose by 13 percent to a good 2,000 crimes. What’s your explanation for that?

The increase is mainly due to the brutality on the Internet and the local incitement to hatred and Holocaust denial. But there is also a positive explanation: those affected report these incidents more strongly. This is a good development and something that I also encourage. Making hatred visible is the first step in combating it.

Why does such hatred always end up in anti-Semitic attacks?

That does not surprise me. Anti-Semitism is so practiced in our culture that it is used again and again, especially in times of uncertainty. Jews were blamed for the plague as far back as the Middle Ages; today this is repeated with the corona virus. This is really fatal.

Even Saxony-Anhalt’s Interior Minister Holger Stahlknecht (CDU) has just promoted anti-Semitism by referring to the times of police officers in front of Jewish buildings that were missing elsewhere.

To portray Jews as privileged people, for whom action would be taken at the expense of the general public, actually fuels anti-Semitism. It is not possible that groups are played off against each other. Unfortunately, Jewish communities need increased security, but that’s not because of the Jews, but because of the threats against them. And the state has a duty to ensure that they can practice their religion without restriction. I think he has to bear 100 percent of the security costs for this. Because this is a fundamental right.

Do you think anti-Semitism can one day be defeated?

It can at least be pushed back so far that the quality of life can be significantly improved. The whole of society benefits from this, not just the Jews. The vast majority in Germany is democratic and vigilant. That gives me hope.


Attack in front of the synagogue in Hamburg: no acceptance of anti-Semitism

You can’t give in to anti-Semitism. Children and young people are not allowed to grow up in a society that can accept it.

The synagogue in Hamburg: A 29-year-old was seriously injured here on Sunday Photo: dpa

The attack in Halle on Yom Kippur, the most important Jewish holiday, in which two people died, was just a year ago. The fact that a Jewish community in Germany is again exposed to an anti-Semitic terrorist act on Sukkot makes me sad and angry at the same time.

We are grateful to the security forces on site for acting quickly and preventing the attacker from further violence. But it must also be stated that the security presence was obviously not sufficient to protect a person from serious injury.

We have to ask ourselves, and local and national security agencies have to ask, why does this keep happening? Why does anti-Semitism keep growing, why do these people think that there is room for their hatred in this society?

When it comes to anti-Semitism, you shouldn’t give in a foot, anti-Semitism shouldn’t be accepted as normality that just happens. Children and young people are not allowed to grow up in a society that has come to terms with anti-Semitism. They must not experience on their social media such as Tiktok every day that anti-Semitism is something that can be imagined and said.

The federal government must take the lead and step up the education so that the next generation understands that any kind of hatred is unacceptable. It is about nothing less than the long-term existence of Jewish life in Germany.

It is also the task of governments and judicial authorities to ensure that the facilities of the Jewish communities, synagogues, schools and meeting places have sufficient police protection so that Jews can freely live out their faith and celebrate their holidays without fear and harassment. The attacker from Hamburg must be held accountable, like everyone who cultivates hatred and intolerance.