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Germany adds Jews to anti-Semitism watchdog after criticism

The German government has confirmed that its new committee to promote the interests of Jewish Germans will now include Jewish members. The move follows backlash over failing to invite members with a Jewish background.

The German federal government announced on Thursday that its anti-Semitism committee would be adding two Jewish members to its ranks, following criticism for not having done so at its inception. A statement from the government said that Interior Minister Thomas de Maizère (CDU) had invited the psychologist Marina Chernivsky to join, as well as Andreas Nachama, director of the Topography of Terror Foundation, the organization which operates Berlin's museum on Nazi era.

The current incarnation of the anti-Semitism commission began work in December 2014, when de Maizère called for the creation of a group of experts to "resolutely combat anti-Semitism and continue promoting the sustainability of Jewish life in Germany." The group had its first meeting in January of the year, and to the dismay of many Jewish groups, did not have a single member with a Jewish background.

Members of the group included Klaus Holz, the secretary general of the Evangelical Academy, Patrick Siegele, who runs the Berlin branch of the Anne Frank Center, and Juliane Wetzel, a historian at the Center for Anti-Semitism Research - but none of them are actually Jewish.

The sharpest critique came from Julius Schoeps, Director of the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European Jewish Studies, who called it an "unrivaled scandal" on the part of the government.

A comprehensive report from the committee is set to be presented to the federal government by 2017 at the latest.

es/msh (KNA, epd)

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