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Germany's Scholz says attacks on Jews 'hurt us all'

October 20, 2023

Olaf Scholz has vowed solidarity with Germany's Jews amid concerns about a rise in domestic antisemitic incidents tied to the war between Israel and Gaza.

A member of the Jewish community walks behind barrier tape following a police lockdown of the area after two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Skoblo Synagogue
Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Skoblo Synagogue and Education Center Image: FABRIZIO BENSCH/REUTERS

Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday offered solidarity with Jewish Germans and pledged broad support from the country after a string of antisemitic incidents and attacks.

The European Union has expressed concern about an uptick in antisemitic incidents since the violent escalation in the Middle East. These have included a firebomb attack on a Berlin synagogue and numerous other incidents across Germany.

What the German chancellor said

"We stand by your side," Scholz told the news magazine Der Spiegel, addressing Germany's Jewish community.

"The state will do everything to protect Jewish life in Germany, and we will not let ourselves be divided as citizens of this country.

"Those who attack Jews, who insult or hurt them, attack us all."

Responding to German police efforts to ban pro-Palestinian rallies and break up unauthorized gatherings, Scholz said Germany must "resolutely oppose all those who shout anti-Semitic slogans, who burn flags of the state of Israel, who blatantly cheer the death of people by the Hamas terror attack."

"These acts have no place with us," Scholz said. "The acts of Hamas were inhumane and barbaric, no one should cheer them. Especially not in the country whose history is indissolubly linked to the Shoah [the Holocaust]."

The French and German governments say they need to protect Jewish communities, given the rise in antisemitic violence that has followed the October 7 attacks by Hamas, deemed a terrorist group by the EU and several countries.

Police have ramped up security for Jewish institutions in Berlin and all over Germany. Israeli flags flown in front of city halls across the country have been torn down and burned.

Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Skoblo Synagogue and Education Center overnight in Berlin earlier this week.

German police say they have registered more than 1,100 crimes related to the war in Gaza and the attacks on Israel, German Foreign Minister Nancy Faeser said.

Germany intensifies security around Jewish institutions

German authorities have clamped down on pro-Palestinian protests, often banning rallies or demonstrations. Police in Berlin have repeatedly clashed with demonstrators at unauthorized rallies.

Call for deportation where possible

Germany's interior minister has said Hamas supporters should be deported where possible, and that authorities would keep a close eye on potential Islamist attackers.

"If we are able to deport Hamas supporters, we must do this," Faeser told reporters following talks with police officials.

"Our security authorities have currently placed an even stronger focus on the Islamist scene," she added.

Faeser said police should take tough action using all available means if Hamas attacks were glorified.

Faeser said everyone in Germany was allowed to freely express their opinion and demonstrate peacefully — "but there is a clear red line. No tolerance for anti-Semitic or anti-Israel agitation, and no tolerance for violence."

rc/jcg (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)