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Germans see rise in anti-Semitism

October 18, 2019

Last week's attack on a synagogue in Germany has left Germans warning that anti-Semitism is on the rise. Federal and state interior ministers meet Friday to decide on protective measures for Jewish premises.

Polizei vor der Neuen Synagoge Berlin
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/C. Soeder

A survey done for ARD public broadcasting by the pollster Intratest dimap Friday showed 59% of voting-age Germans believe that anti-Semitism is spreading in their communities.

Compared to 40% in a sampling last year that's a jump of 19 percentage points.

The representative poll conducted by Infratest surveyed 1,062 voters between Monday and Wednesday — a week after a far-right attack on a synagogue in Germany's eastern city of Halle.

Another 35% responded that they saw no increase in anti-Semitism across Germany. Last year, 51% believed this was the case.

Read more: 10,000 march against anti-Semitism

Rising anti-Semitism was seen by two-thirds or more of supporters of Germany's long-serving parliamentary parties — Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the former-communist Left.

Among adherents of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) formed in 2013 views were split. A rise in anti-Semitism was seen by 47% but not by another 48%.

Rampage in Halle 

The sampling was made after an armed attacker attempted a massacre in the city of Halle in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt. He failed to shoot open the door of its synagogue, which was full with Jewish worshippers on Yom Kippur, Judaism's holiest day of the year.

Instead, he shot and killed two local residents before being arrested and confessing to police of being motivated by right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism.

During his rampage, the gunman had live-streamed via an Internet gaming website a rant about Jews and Holocaust denials in English.

Read more: Mesut Özil - 'there are major problems in Germany'

German interior ministers deliberate

Nach Angriff in Halle/Saale - Pressekonferenz
Halle: Seehofer with regional premier Reiner HaseloffImage: picture-alliance/dpa/H. Schmidt

Consequences from Halle were be decided in Berlin on Friday by interior ministers of 16 regional states, or Länder, joined by German Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

In the Bundestag on Thursday, Seehofer outlined a package, including safeguards for Jewish premises, the pursuit of those making hate speech online, preventative work in schools, and a "massive" boost in security authorities' personnel — similar to what Germany had already established to deter Islamist terror.

In support of Jewish community members holding Sabbath rituals, Protestant and Catholic bishops in Saxony-Anhalt have urged Christians to gather with candles outside Halle's synagogue on Friday as a gesture of protection.

Long-standing warnings

Jewish communities in Germany have long warned of persistent anti-Semitism, with Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews, urging after the Halle shootings that "readiness for violence from the right must not be underestimated."

Halle was not an isolated case but a "clear and direct development," said Schuster last week. 

During Thursday's Bundestag debate, Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht, a center-left Social Democrat (SPD), described Germany's extremist right-wing scene as the "greatest threat" to Germany's communal life.

Intended, said Lambrecht, were also measures to better protect local and regional body politicians from far-right violence and hate campaigns.

Walter Lübcke, a senior district official in the state of Hesse and longtime member of Merkel's conservatives, was killed with a shot to his head. Awaiting trial is a far-right extremist with past convictions for anti-migrant crimes.

Lübcke was publicly known for advocating the welcoming refugee policy that Merkel adopted during an influx of cross-Mediterranean migrants in 2015.

ipj/sms (KNA, epd, dpa)

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