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Opinion: Berlin's anti-Semitism demonstration should have been much bigger

Germany's entire political elite has gathered in Berlin to demonstrate against anti-Semitism. The protest adds 6,000 people to the campaign. But it is far from enough, says DW's Editor-in-Chief Alexander Kudascheff.

It is a clear signal - 6,000 people have gathered in Berlin to protest against anti-Semitism. Only 6,000. No more.

In 1992, over one million Germans held candle-light vigils in cities, villages and communities across the country to speak out against racism. That was at a time when right-wing hate was countered with demonstrative and imposing force.

But this time, 6,000 people have spoken out. That includes Germany's entire political elite. The president. The chancellor. Ministers. Unionists. The Protestant and Catholic churches. They all gathered on Sunday to make a clear statement against anti-Semitism - upon invitation from the Central Council of Jews in Germany, since no initiative came from within society, from within Germany itself. That is quite disgraceful, as is the small number of participants.

Alexander Kudascheff. (Photo: DW/ M. Müller)

Editor-in-Chief Alexander Kudascheff

It is undeniable that there is a discrepancy in how Jews are perceived, especially in what people think of Israel. The German public has become distinctly more critical of Israel than the government. And behind this legitimate critical view of Israel, there are still archaic anti-Semitic resentments lurking - displayed on the streets by Muslim immigrants, spread on the Internet by "normal" Germans at the center of German society.

The amount of vulgar remarks, hate and rage against Jews that can be found isn't only humiliating and disgraceful, it is also very disturbing. And that's why the rally at Berlin's Brandenburger Tor is the right statement: Germany is responsible for the Holocaust, for the "Shoah," for the murder of six million European Jews.

In Germany, there must be more commitment to speak out more loudly, more impressively and more resolute against anti-Semitism than anywhere else. We cannot pretend that everything is ok.

According to opinion polls, around 20 percent of people in Germany have anti-Semitic views or agree with anti-Semitic stereotypes. That, unfortunately, is more than it was 25 years ago. These people are right-leaning, left-leaning, Muslim immigrants, people straight from the mainstream of German society. Seventy-five years after the beginning of WWII, after the annihilation of the Jews, Synagogues still have to be protected by police security. Even kindergartens. Jews wearing kippas have come to expect verbal attacks. Cemeteries are dishonored. This is a reality for Jews living in Germany.

But: despite the Holocaust, and every-day anti-Semitism, there is Jewish life in Germany again. Communities are growing. Jews do not hide, they are self-confident. That was evident at the rally in Berlin. They show their feelings. They will not accept the insults, the abuse. They are a part of German society. They have found their home here. A home that stands up against anti-Semitism. And that's why, as the German chancellor put it, the struggle against anti-Semitism is a self-evident matter of course for the republic. A free society ostracizes anti-Semitism. And it hates racism.

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