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Germany must protect its Jews: Israeli ambassador

May 14, 2021

Israeli-Palestinian violence should not be allowed to affect the Jewish community in Germany, Israel's ambassador to Germany has said. Chancellor Merkel condemned antisemitic attacks and rallies in the country.

a close up of a blue kippa with a gold star of david
The Israeli ambassador to Germany has called on the country's authorities to protect German JewsImage: picture alliance/dpa/W. Rothermel

The Israeli ambassador to Germany has asked authorities to protect the country's Jewish community.

Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff spoke out after several incidents of inflammatory vandalism at synagogues in German cities this week. The antisemitic incidents were reportedly motivated by the current violence in Israel and Gaza.

"I urgently request the German authorities to do everything to ensure the security of our community here," Issacharoff said on Friday in an interview with German public broadcaster ARD.

The Israeli government is very concerned about antisemitic acts such as the attacks on synagogues in Bonn, Munster and other cities, he said.

"The conflict in the Middle East has nothing to do with the Jewish community here in Germany," Issacharoff added.

What happened?

Three separate incidents occurred on Tuesday night in the cities of Bonn, Dusseldorf and Munster in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).

In Münster, police sent officers to a synagogue where a group of men had gathered. They were reportedly shouting and burning an Israeli flag.

Women rabbis making history

Officers said the building was not damaged and 13 men had been charged with holding an illegal gathering.

In Bonn, three men between the ages of 20 and 24 were detained for burning an Israeli flag, as well as throwing rocks at a synagogue's windows.

In Düsseldorf, police said a fire was lit on top of a stone memorial for a synagogue destroyed in 1938 on November Pogrom Night, also referred to as Night of Broken Glass.

Who else has condemned the incidents?

Issacharoff is one of many public figures to have spoken out against the incidents, including top politicians and faith leaders.

Germany respects the right to demonstrate, but "whoever uses such protests to proclaim their hatred of Jews is abusing their right to protest," Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said, according to government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Friday.

"Our democracy will not suffer" antisemitic protests, said Seibert, quoting Merkel.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Friday's edition of the Bild newspaper, "Whoever burns Star of David flags or shouts antisemitic slogans on our streets is not only abusing the right to demonstrate but committing a crime."

"We neither want to, nor will we, tolerate the hatred of Jews," Steinmeier added. 

The German government's antisemitism commissioner, Felix Klein, called on Friday for Islamic organizations to distance themselves from the violence against Jews and their places of worship. He asked the groups to issue a call for nonviolence and to work to de-escalate tension in Germany's Muslim communities.

He said he found it appalling how: "Jews here in Germany were clearly being held responsible for the behavior of the Israeli government, which they are completely not part of."

Such a view was "pure antisemitism," Klein said.

Solidarity with the Palestinians or criticism of the Israeli government did not justify the incidents in Germany, he added.

kmm/sms (Reuters,AFP, dpa, KNA)