Israeli ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff responded to reports of a 60 percent rise in violent attacks on Jewish people in Germany. He told DW the law needed to be enforced.
Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff was asked if he was concerned about the rising number of attacks on Jewish people in Germany.
Issacharoff told DW he was "very concerned about it" and said the attacks were to be seen in the context of Germany's complicated past merging with the present and future.
Preliminary government figures provided at the request of the socialist Left Party in February showed violent crimes motivated by hatred against Jews rose to 62 in 2018 from 37 the year before. In total, there was a 10 percent rise in anti-Semitic offences — with 1,646 anti-Semitic crimes registered in 2018, up from 1,504 in 2017.
"Anti-Semitism in very many ways is a friend of the horrific past and today we have to create a new reality," Issacharoff told DW. "So when we see acts of anti-Semitism, words of anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic words that translate into violence, of course we are concerned we are looking back to a much more horrific past."
Attacks in France
France has the largest Jewish population in Europe and the total of registered anti-Semitic acts and threats rose to 541 in 2018 from 311, a rise of 74 percent after two years of decline, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced in February. France has the world's largest Jewish population outside Israel and the United States.
Josef Schuster of the German Council of Jews with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the beginning of the Hanukkah festival in Berlin
Mainly in light of the rising number of attacks on Jewish people in France, Israel has called on Jews to emigrate from Europe to Israel. Asked if that was a solution to rising anti-Semitism, Issacharoff said: "I was born in England and I went to live in Israel as I made my own personal decision — and every Jew should see Israel as his homeland should he want to come."
Emigration not the solution
"But I think to deal with anti-Semitism you need to deal with many things on the ground in Europe; in places where it exists. And it's not only in Europe, we have seen acts in Latin America and also in America."
"So I think we need to think about how we use education, how we get some regulation of cyber space in terms of how people's messages are proliferated and how anti-Semitic themes are perpetuated in these areas, how we bring this to not only schools but to universities or cultural institutes."
Attacks an assault on democratic tolerance
The ambassador also echoed Germany's Central Council of Jews which called for a "stronger commitment" from police, politicians and the judiciary. "What I think is one of the most important things is the issue of enforcement and when people do these horrific acts of putting swastikas in such holy and sacred places that don't offend anyone, this is such a horrific thing," the ambassador told DW. "There needs to be clear and strict enforcement."
Anti-Semitism is lower in countries with larger Jewish populations but if the Jewish population declines in Europe, that too could become an issue. Issacharoff responded by saying: "Yes, the German government does not only have a commission to fight anti-Semitism but also to promote Jewish life. And for us, to see Jewish life being established also in Europe and to flourish here is an indication of Europe's political health."
"Today, anti-Semitism is an assault on Jews, it is an assault on Israelis but in the end it is also an assault on the democratic tolerance and nature of European society as a whole and particularly, also in Germany."