German Jews fear rising antisemitism during refugee influx


A German Jewish woman wears a kippah in Berlin AFP/Getty Images
A German Jewish woman wears a kippah in Berlin AFP/Getty Images
When Judith G. helped out at a refugee center near Frankfurt last October and identified herself as Jewish, she was spat on and insulted.

German Jews say the case of Judith G., a 33-year-old optician who asked not to be fully named, isn’t isolated and underlines concerns many have about the record arrivals of asylum seekers, largely from Muslim countries in the Middle East.

Official figures show German-born far-right supporters commit the vast majority of antisemitic crimes in the country, and Muslim leaders say nearly all asylum seekers – who can be targets of hate crime themselves – are trying to escape conflict, not stir it up.

Nevertheless, Jews across Germany are hiding their identity when volunteering at refugee shelters for fear of reprisals, adding another layer of complexity to a social, economic and logistical challenge that is stretching the fabric of German society.

“Among the refugees, there are a great many people who grew up with hostility toward Israel and conflate these prejudices with hatred toward Jews in general,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews, told Reuters in an interview conducted in October.

Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed last week that antisemitic attitudes among some young people arriving from countries where “hatred toward Israel and Jews is commonplace” needed to be dealt with.

The safety of Jewish communities is particularly sensitive in Germany due to the murder of over 6 million Jews by Hitler’s Third Reich, which is marked on Wednesday by the international Holocaust Memorial Day. Today, the German Jewish community numbers around 100,500.

According to a 2013 study by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, 64 percent of German Jews avoid the public display of symbols that would identify them as Jewish. It also found that only 28 percent of them report antisemitic incidents.

Such incidents, as recorded by the Interior Ministry, dropped in 2015 but Jews still remember chants by young Muslims proclaiming “Jews to the gas” on German streets in protests against the 2014 Israeli-Palestinian Gaza War.

Concerns rose earlier this year when two suspected asylum seekers from Syria and Afghanistan attacked and robbed a man wearing a skullcap on the northern island of Fehmarn, a crime the local prosecutor treats as antisemitic.

“We don’t approach the issue of refugees with negative expectations in general,” said Walter Blender, head of the Jewish community in Bad Segeberg, a town on the mainland about 100 km (60 miles) from Fehmarn. “But we are very worried and skeptical, and anecdotal evidence so far showed that we have reason to be scared.”

Preliminary Interior Ministry figures show that far-right supporters were responsible for well over 90 percent of the antisemitic crimes recorded last year up to the end of November. People with a foreign background were blamed for little more than four percent, although this category does not reveal their country of origin or immigration status.

Starting from this month, however, the ministry will produce a breakdown that includes a refugee category.


Germany, which took in 1.1 million asylum seekers from mainly Middle Eastern countries last year, saw crimes against refugee shelters quadruple to 924 incidents in 2015 and Muslim advocacy groups warn against finger-pointing.

“The vast majority of people coming here are fleeing war and terror themselves,” said Aiman Mazyek, president of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims. “All they want is peace and quiet.”

There is little research on the scale of antisemitism in Arab countries, but a Pew poll from 2011 shows a large majority of people there hold unfavorable opinions of Jews.

Researchers say too little effort is put into teaching Western and German values to asylum seekers, including the country’s relationship with Jewish communities.

“There is a lack of a deeper understanding of the culture in many Middle Eastern countries and this results in Western stakeholders being taken by surprise over the fervent antisemitism there,” said Wolfgang Bock, an expert in Islamism and Middle Eastern politics.

In Germany, refugees with recognized asylum claims learn about the country’s history and values alongside language tuition. But some experts say there is nothing about contemporary political issues, such as relations with Israel.

“Education can’t just be about the Holocaust and the Third Reich. Schools also need to talk about the Middle East conflict, antisemitism based on religious argumentation and conspiracy theories,” said Ahmad Mansour, an Arab-Israeli researcher with the European Foundation of Democracy.

But communities across Germany are overwhelmed with processing the hundreds of thousands of asylum applications and are struggling to provide shelter and food to the arrivals.

Some Jewish groups, such as the Berlin-based “Friends of the Fraenkleufer Synagogue”, have taken the cultural exchange issue into their own hands with around 40 volunteers helping out at a local refugee center.

“We want to send a message to all the Jews who sit at home and build big fences around their synagogues that it’s possible and necessary to approach one another, because if we don’t try, things can only turn for the worse,” said Nina Peretz, head of the initiative.




17 responses to “German Jews fear rising antisemitism during refugee influx”

  1. 5thDrawer Avatar

    “We don’t approach the issue of refugees with negative expectations in general,” said Walter Blender ….”
    But Jews in general have been taught to approach the world with negative expectations, and that anything said against them, especially as individuals, is ‘anti-semetic’, and so when they meet the real thing they probably have more fear than usual.

      1. 5thDrawer Avatar

        hohohoho … gotta love cartoons, really. 😉

  2. Majority of refugees in Germany has an anti-Semitic attitude.

    “Have you ever seen a Jew?”

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar

      Needs translation … and is blocked for the website.

      1. RAW translation;

        POLICY DARING ENCOUNTER 01/25/16 “Have you ever seen a Jew?” Yonatan Shay wearing the yarmulke in public and is therefore often threatened. Yet he dares to Berlin’s biggest refugee camp. There he experienced Forgiven, but also finds signs of hatred.

        From Philip Kuhn, Noemi Mihalovici

        Yonatan Shay visited the refugee camp in Tempelhof

        Share Video

        Because of his kippah, he was already attacked in the street. Now an Orthodox Jew wants to know what happens when he thus goes into a refugee shelter. How much hatred of Jews met him?

        Source: The World

        Yonatan Shay striking. The 28-year-old is the Jewish faith, and which should also be seen. He wears deliberately tipping over the dark, short hair. The traditional headdress covering a portion of the back of the head. “It is a statement,” says Yonatan. “I live my faith openly.” With the secular Israelis from the trendy neighborhoods in Neukölln and Kreuzberg, he can not do anything.

        “We need to consider what responses I call out,” says Yonatan before entering the refugee camp in Berlin-Tempelhof. It is housed in one of the hangars of the former airport, built by the Nazis until 2008, he was still in operation. Yonatan sounds as he planned a science experiment. “Afraid I have not, but I am on my guard.” The majority of refugees in Germany has an anti-Semitic attitude, he says – and calls for more involvement by the federal government against “imported Hass’ from crisis areas.

        In Tempelhof, he wants to get on that cold winter even a picture of the situation. The massive influx of refugees is an issue for Jews in Germany. “Of course concerns us,” says Yonatan, who moved a year ago from Tel Aviv to Berlin. A provocation is not the visit. Yonatan finds it important to have access to people this week to ask them about their relationship with Jews.

        Faced with a steadily increasing anti-Semitism, there are already warnings, in certain quarters to wear the kippah publicly


        Jews fear hatred and intolerance by refugees

        The chairman of the Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster had, in a recent interview with the “world” cautioned that unlimited immigration is a threat to the Jews living here. For this he had been violently attacked. Politicians spoke of verbal derailment. One accused him even to poison the air.

        Indeed, many Syrian refugees define today as Palestinians. Although they have long been in Syria. “The aversion to Israel has survived,” says Yonatan. This is not only in Syria the case. Even Iraq or Afghanistan, two countries from which many refugees also come to Germany, are far removed from a normal relationship with Israel. Many Arab countries do not even recognize the Jewish state founded in 1948.

        Yonatan knows that exposed him the kippa. He has been beaten in the metro between Kreuzberg and Neukölln ever heard of four Arab-looking men. “Refugees,” says Yonatan, because they did not understand German. Insults he experiences daily. A month ago he attended on behalf of his employer, the American Jewish Committee, a Salafistenprozess in Berlin.

        His boss had filed against the defendants ad because this against rushed Jews. Yonatan was so massively threatened by supporters in the courtroom that he had to go. Neither judge nor court officials intervened. How can such a thing happen in a constitutional state, the Chancellor declared Israel’s security to the German raison d’etat?

        Tempelhof Field

        Tempelhofer Feld

        Heated debate about planned refugee accommodation

        Hard winter sun falls through the high windows of the hall at Tempelhof. Heaters blow pleasantly warm air in hangar four. Children balancing on ropes and proudly present their German language skills. “Hello my name is Mohammed, and you?” Asks a five year old from Syria pride. Since October live in Tempelhof around 2,000 refugees. It is the largest home in Berlin. The refugees have separate living areas, can now take a shower in another hangar. Initially, the people had to be moved for the nearby Columbia-bath with buses.

        Men are standing together in groups and tap their phones. They turn around, as Yonatan passes them, and whisper. The Jewish guest is tense. He expects attacks and therefore is itself on the offensive. “Jew” hisses an audible. “Why did you Jew say? What do you have for experiences with Jews do?” Yonatan asks the man, which is the address visible uncomfortable. No, no, he did not say anything, the insured. So can quite believe it not.

        An elderly woman with red bandana encircled Yonatan. “Where are you?” She asks suspiciously. Yonatan answered in a mixture of Hebrew and a smattering of Arabic. “I am a Jew from Israel.” The woman can not believe it, digs deeper: “Where?” – “I am a Jew from Tel Aviv”, clarified Yonatan. Finally, he used the Arabic name for a village that was once north of Tel Aviv: “I come from Sheikh Munis Munis Sheik..” The woman has understood and deals. “That you do not like,” he says.

        Yonatan had a gauntlet expected, but remains in Tempelhof from first. He walks over to two young men who obviously talk about his kippa. There are Kress and Shahin from Iraq, 20 and 21 years old. You studied at the University of Baghdad and fled to his own admission before the constant suicide bombings.

        “Have you ever seen a Jew?” Asks Yonatan. Kress does not understand. A security guard comes to translated into Arabic. Kress laughs sheepishly. He embraces Yonatan and gives him the hand. It is a conciliatory scene, but Yonatan remains unimpressed. He wanted to not be blinded. “What do they tell you about Israel in Iraq? Do you think the messages of your totalitarian regime?” He hooked at Kress after. It sounds a bit after police interrogation.

        Yonatan Shai before a column of anti-Semitic graffiti in the refugee camp

        Photo: Philip Kuhn

        Yonatan Shai before a column of anti-Semitic graffiti in the refugee camp

        A few meters away is out of the fear of anti-Semitism among refugees certainty. A long wall separating the living areas of refugees from the public part of the gigantic hall is full of anti-Semitic graffiti. It does not look as if they had just been freshly painted. Under a Jewish star, the number is 666. It is considered a symbol of the devil. Besides, someone has painted a swastika.

        And there is Israel cards. Many maps Israel. Unknown suspects the country painted red. “This means that you want to drive the Jews by force,” said Yonatan. “Red stands for the blood of the Jews.” He believes the reason for the graffiti is of Palestinian background of many refugees. “The hatred of Israel persists over generations.” Now they would take him to Germany.

        Other maps show the country in Palestinian flags: ie black, white, green and red. Yonatan knows these graffiti from the West Bank. He has seen them during his military service. “What has to seek in a German refugee center?” He asks. It’s a good question, which also calls for the operator. “I see this for the first time,” explains spokeswoman Maria Kipp. Of course, you’ll remove the swastika. With the cards she has no problem about it. “This is Palestine,” she says.

        Yonatan Shai (M) has talked to many refugees, including Othman (l.). He and his friend (r.) Have no problem with Jews

        Photo: Philip Kuhn

        Yonatan Shai (M) has talked to many refugees, including Othman (l.). He and his friend (r.) Have no problem with Jews

        Yonatan is applied. He makes Selfies of the graffiti. “As evidence,” he says. Two Iraqis come to the wall and appease. Othman, a web designer from Baghdad makes it clear that he had nothing against Jews. “I have the Berlin Holocaust Memorial visited,” he says. It is unpleasant to him that feels attacked Yonatan. “Yesterday they attacked a woman with a headscarf in Köpenick”, says the Iraqis, “just because it is an Arab. Hatred there are on all sides.” Yonatan, the Jew and Othman, the Sunni, would like to chat long. It’s about hatred and faith. At the end of Yonatan is calmed, smokey the anger over graffiti for a moment. “I’m glad that you’re so tolerant,” he says to Othman.

        An elderly man Yonatan approaches curious. “The government in Israel is bad, but the people are very nice,” he says in broken English. Ali is Palestinian and was born in 1946 in Damascus. His parents fled after the war of independence against Israel into the neighboring country Syria. Yet he harbors no grudge against the arch-enemy. “Do you think that people should live together in one country?” Yonatan asks voted mild. The old man nods. The two shake hands. They stand for a moment side by side, posing for pictures. It looks as if father and son photographed.

        “The older generation no longer feels this hatred against Israel”, suspected Yonatan. “They have made their peace.” There are mainly the boys who are indoctrinated. Just as the perhaps 15-year-old Syrian refugee with Palestinian immigrant background, who boasts of having one of the most anti-Israel cards painted.

        This young man has probably seen in Syria death in the eye. Now he brings his hatred to Germany

        Jonathan Shay

        “The Jews must get out of the country,” the boy says, builds menacingly before Yonatan on. For this he makes a clear gesture. A kind Wegwischgeste. It is the most hostile encounter that day. He could not understand, says Yonatan. “This young man has probably seen in Syria death in his eyes. He now brings his hatred to Germany.”

        It’s getting late, in the refugee camp, more and more refugees gather around the eye-catching, voluble visitors. People make the impression that they felt well entertained by Yonatan, who enlightens in a mixture of English, Hebrew and Arabic on anti-Semitism, which is why the agreement is not always easy. Only the operators this is all too much. “Go now, please,” it says.

        Should Germany unlimited hosting refugees? Yonatan struggling for an answer and then says: “Germany has a historical responsibility for the Holocaust.” At the same time the Jews would have to be protected. Yet one could act. “Many refugees are still very young. It is surely possible to educate them.” Refugees and Salafists one should not lump together. “The Salafists are homemade German problem,” says Yonatan. “The change their minds no longer.” For the refugees, however, he has hope. Despite anti-Semitic graffiti.

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar

          Well, thank you … a bit of work, I can see.

  3. Reasonableman Avatar

    It’s really dissapointing that it takes a brown man to do something for it to be taken as an urgency and concidered repulsive. The piece states 90% of antisemitism is a reflection of the MAINLY WHITE far right groups, but the report focuses on the *foreign brown* refugees. Geez talk about quelling the anxiety of the white folks.

  4. Adam Yonatan Ben Yoel Avatar
    Adam Yonatan Ben Yoel

    Because the majority of people in this region are Antisemites.

    1. Despite the fact that many people in Europe are Antisemits , we are doing a lot not to forget what Nazi antisemitism resulted with.

      Today the Bundestag remembered the ‘forgotten’ Holocaust victims.

      The Bundestag remembers the victims of the Holocaust every year on January 27, which is the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
      But for the first time, the commemorations emphasized the approximately 300,000 people who were murdered in Nazi euthanasia programs. The victims were bussed to their death under the pretext of a nice day out,

  5. How Europe is f**king itself with mass immigration.

    The Jihadist Next Door

  6. Christina Metron Avatar
    Christina Metron

    life is a circle. The Jews are doing to the Palestinians exactly what the Nazis did to them, then some. the only thing missing is the gas chambers, but if you allow them they will gas them too. Karma is a bitich

  7. Niemals Avatar

    Yes Europe is f**king itself with mass immigration, now it will be stopped!
    This retweeting arab “I don’t give a shit abt Germany!” is a first-class antisemit. Some people in France hope the outrage over the killing of 85-year-old Mireille Knoll may turn the tide against an upsurge in anti-Semitism in the country.
    Others are not so sure.
    Knoll’s killing appears eerily similar to that of 65-year-old Orthodox Jew Sarah Halimi last year, who was beaten and thrown out of her window.
    A judge last month confirmed Halimi’s killing was fuelled by anti-Semitism.
    The attacks are only two examples of several particularly horrific hate crimes in recent years targeting France’s 550,000-strong Jewish community, the largest in Western Europe.
    Would you be pleased if we say F**k your ‘Palestina’ and anyone who defends it?

  8. Some like Anealla Safdar are livid over any antisemitism they detect.

    Hover at the left you see Ebeneezer Scrooge!
    Anealla Safdar should see the film A Christmas Carol to learn about Ebeneezer Scrooge! Getty images – Ebeneezer Scrooge!

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