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Take anti-Semitism seriously

April 24, 2017

Jews in Germany are feeling threatened. Such fears should make government and society think, DW's Christoph Strack writes.

Demonstration gegen Antisemitismus in Berlin 14.09.2014
Image: Reuters/Thomas Peter

It is a request, an appeal, a warning. A group of experts appointed by the Bundestag has called for society tostrongly confront anti-Semitism in Germany.  This has been endorsed by many Jewish representatives.

The federally appointed experts published their report on Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, which honors the 6 million Jews who were murdered by Nazi Germany. On Monday, Sigmar Gabriel, on his first visit to Jerusalem as foreign minister, visited the Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, and wrote in the visitors' book: "Remember every day."

Strack Christoph Kommentarbild App
DW's Christoph StrackImage: DW

The necessity of such vigilance can be shown by the numerous police officers in front of Jewish institutions in Berlin and other German cities. It can be shown by reports such as the case of the schoolboy who was bullied out of his Berlin school for being Jewish. Germany can be proud of the fact that now, thanks in part to a burst of immigration from the Soviet Union about 20 years ago, there is a blossoming Jewish community in many places across the country, that synagogues are being newly built, that rabbis and cantors are studying and being ordained in the country where the Holocaust originated.

The document does not offer any new numbers. But whether anti-Semitism can be statistically verified at this point is less important than the fact that Jews in Germany have described their increased insecurity or fear.

The Bundestag's commission has called for an anti-Semitism representative, federal and state commissions, and more wide-ranging support for similar projects. The Central Council of Jews in Germany had previously demanded an anti-Semitism representative. It remains to be seen whether it might be practical to have such a representative with a permanent seat in the Federal Chancellery - no matter who is in charge. It is fundamentally about having a central point of contact at the federal level on this issue. The government needs to take this seriously.

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Deutsche Welle Strack Christoph Portrait
Christoph Strack Christoph Strack is a senior author writing about religious affairs.@Strack_C