'Not Surprising' Jews Mull Leaving Germany, New anti-Semitism Envoy Says

Felix Klein, tasked with fighting anti-Semitism, says roughly 20 percent of Germans hold anti-Semitic views – a statistic that has remained stable over the years

People wear kippas as they attend a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue, to denounce an anti-Semitic attack on a young man wearing a kippa in the capital earlier this month, in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018.
\ FABRIZIO BENSCH/ REUTERS

Germany’s newly appointed official in charge of fighting anti-Semitism says he is not surprised that Jews are considering leaving the country following a series of high profile hate crimes recently in the country.

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According to The Observer, the official, Felix Klein, who is to take up his post this week, said he plans to prepare a national list of all hate crimes against Jews, who number about 100,000 in Germany.

>> In Germany, a new type of anti-Semitism has reared its head | Analysis

According to Klein, anti-Semitism has gone mainstream in Germany. “It is quite understandable that those who are scared for the safety of their children would consider leaving Germany,” he said at his first briefing with journalists in Berlin, adding: “I hear this from my own Jewish friends. But we must do everything to avoid that.”

Klein said he hopes to gain a better understanding of the source of the anti-Semitism and “tackle it like a surgeon.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel has recently discussed “a different type of anti-Semitism,” which many say was brought to Germany by more than a million refugees from Muslim countries who arrived in the summer of 2015.

Klein warned that this “imported anti-Semitism” has been fed by a few of the thousands of Salafi Muslims living in Germany. However, he added that updated data show that notwithstanding the wave of refugees, “around 20 percent of all Germans hold anti-Semitic views, a statistic that has remained stable for years and never gone down.”

Klein’s remarks come a few days after a controversy surrounding Germany's Echo Music Prize ceremony, in which awarded a key prize to a rap album that contained anti-Semitic lyrics belittling the Holocaust. The album sold more than 200,000 copies.

In one of the songs, rappers Farid Bang and Kollegah say their “body was more defined than those of Auschwitz inmates.” In another line, they called for “another Holocaust, let’s grab the Molotov cocktails.” The duo’s previous work also contained inflammatory statements about Jews.

A number of anti-Semitic incidents have recently taken place in Germany. A young Syrian man attacked an Arab Israeli Israeli wearing a skullcap in Berlin, and there have been reports of attacks on Jewish children in Berlin. In Dresden, a Jewish student said she had been harassed by other students for being Jewish.

“I’ve lived in Germany for 50 years, and not a day goes by without Jew-hatred,” Michael Friedman, a German-French columnist whose parents lost most of their families in the Holocaust, told German television. “On the one hand there’s the old traditional hatred of mainstream Christian society, which led Hitler to murder six million Jews. On the other, in recent years we see hatred coming from parts of the Muslim community from countries in which hatred of Jews and hatred of Israel are part of the national doctrine. The truth is that Jews in Germany are in danger.”