Opinion: Anti-Semitic violence? Germany must decide | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 18.04.2018
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Opinion: Anti-Semitic violence? Germany must decide

A video has surfaced showing an Arabic-speaking man striking at another young man wearing a yarmulke — in broad daylight in Berlin. DW Editor-in-Chief Ines Pohl is concerned about where Germany is headed.

Sadly, it has become commonplace that videos appear on the internet documenting anti-Semitic assaults in Germany. In the one case, an Israeli flag was burned, in another a man railed at the owner of a Jewish restaurant, bringing up gas chambers. Each time the incidents trigger a wave of outrage. Politicians promise to do everything in their power to protect Jews in Germany. They refer to history , responsibility, install yet another commissioner and announce educational initiatives. They talk of the complex challenges this country faces, a country that has only now, and much too late, officially recognized that it is in fact a country of immigration.

Read more: Berlin fights anti-Semitism with synagogue, Jewish secondary school

Hatred has become a given

The most recent video is brutal proof that it will not be enough to counter the fearless matter-of-factness with which people like the young man give free rein to their hatred of Jews: In the heart of Berlin, on a lively square and in broad daylight, an Arab youth strikes out at another young man wearing a yarmulke, the traditional head cap worn by some Jewish men. The attacker's face is full of cold hatred as he pulls off his belt. His face is uncovered. On the contrary, he knows he is being filmed; the victim points his cellphone camera at his face, shouts again and again, "I'm filming, I'm filming!" Obviously, the attacker couldn't care less that his attack is being documented, that he is recognizable and the police will most likely find him.

Ines Pohl (DW/P. Böll)

Ines Pohl is DW's editor-in-chief

What is going on in Germany? The video is shocking proof that German society urgently needs to find new answers to preserve the basic rules of coexistence. The customary punishments appear not to suffice to discourage such attackers.

Perhaps a glance at German schoolyards can help us understand where we stand. For years, teachers have been trying to increase public awareness of how matter-of-factly youngsters harass each other as "Jews." A look at German rap lyrics shows how the social consensus that anti-Semitic remarks are entirely out of place in our country is increasingly being revoked. Under no circumstances can such remarks be put into perspective, and thus accepted.

Does Germany want to fight for its values, its freedom?

It would be wrong to say that Jews these days can expect to be attacked on Germany's streets if their religious affiliation is visible.

Read more: Anti-Semitism in Germany: Are immigrants unfairly portrayed in the media?

But it would be just as wrong to say Jews need not fear attacks on Germany's streets if their religious affiliation is visible.

What is true is that the existing tools are no longer sufficient. Germany has reached a point where it must decide how unambiguously it wants to fight for its civilizing values and its liberties.

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