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Visibility must be a price worth paying as anti-Semitism continues to thrive in Europe

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When AntiSemitismWatch launched its groundbreaking survey on the experience of ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in the UK last year, it had a working premise. Namely, that their visibility would mean they were likely to have a markedly different experience in regards to anti-Semitism than the wider mainstream Jewish communities.

The results significantly bore out that theory, casting a huge shadow over the reliability of the published UK anti-Semitic hate crime figures.

Of all the respondents, 77% had witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism in the previous 12 months.

Of those, 49% had witnessed or experienced 3 or more anti-Semitic incidents (8% had witnessed or experienced 10 or more Anti-Semitic incidents in the previous 12 months).

images-3However, it would be wrong to leave the impression that vulnerability of visibility is an exclusive preserve of the ultra-Orthodox or the UK.

Just recently a Jewish student was denied a seat on a train in Berlin due to her Magen-David necklace.

Two women saw her, noticed her necklace, then put their bags on the empty seats next to them, to prevent her from sitting down.  They reaffirmed their actions through words of hate towards her.

Disgracefully, the other passengers studiously ignored what was going on and looked at the floor or window.

images-2The victim said she experiences such negative experiences whenever her Magen-David is visible, therefore,  usually choosing to hide it with a scarf.

On Wednesday we reported that Guy Muller of the Netherlands Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) explained the hazards of appearing externally Jewish in public: “If you walk around and are identifiable as a Jew, there is a higher chance that you will be attacked. We know that there are people who are attacked more than once each year.”

Famously, Zvi Ammar, the head of Marseille’s Israelite Consistory urged men to stop wearing their kippah after yet a further violent anti-Semitic attack on a Jew.

Mr Ammar called on Jews “not to wear the kippah in the street to avoid being identified as Jewish”.

“It is sad to find ourselves in this position in 2016, in a great democratic country like France,” he said.

images“But faced with an exceptional situation, we have to take exceptional measures. It causes me such pain to come to this conclusion but I do not want anyone to die in Marseille because they had a kippah on their head.”

This led to remarkable scenes of French politicians, so usually ardent in their advocacy of secularism, wearing kippot into the national parliament.

None of these are truly a surprise against the backdrop of the rocketing rates of European anti-Semitism.

Just to say it was revealed that 35% of Hungarians hold “high or moderate” anti-Semitic views.

The survey, which questioned 1,200 Hungarian citizens on their views toward Jews, was initiated by the Action and Protection Foundation, a Hungarian organization combating anti-Semitism in the country.

Twenty-three percent of respondents claimed to hold “extreme” anti-Semitic views towards Jews, while 12% claimed to hold “moderate” anti-Semitic views towards Jews. Shockingly, 31% said they do not wish to have Jewish neighbors.

Even in neighboring Poland there is a high level of anti-Semitism. A survey conducted by the National Institute for Public Opinion Research found that 37% of respondents said they “do not like Jews”.

Yet, despite all of this, does AntiSemitismWatch suggest hiding away our precious signs of our Judaism? Of course not!

Do not hide. Take sensible precautions, in the same way any community or individual should, and rally, campaign and argue the point, but never hide. When they have forced us into hiding, that is a victory, the first broken window.

It will only encourage more of the same actions. Instead, find wherever the hate is being preached and stand against it.

Stand strong our friends!

German Police show British and other law enforcers how to deal with hate

With the Labour Party in crisis over allegations of anti-Semitism, student unions on campus inciting the same through their systemically anti-Semitic BDS activities, online hate crime soaring and the ever dredful anxiety over when the next terrorist attack on the community will happen, it is entirely appropriate to ask what the law enforcers are doing about this? Are those charged with protecting us from such evil doing enough?

images-8In Germany at least there appears to be some progress. The Berlin Police completed a large-scale raid on internet users on Wednesday. Officers targeted ten separate apartments in the German capital in the suburbs of Spandau, Tempelhof, Marzahn, Hellersdorf and Pankow.

The force confiscated mobile phones, narcotics and weapons. Nine suspects were arrested, aged 22-58, and are accused of posting hate messages, including anti-semitic slogans, on social networks like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter, reports Berliner Morgenpost.

This is perhaps ironic considering it came just the day before front page headlines appeared in London’s Evening Standard, accusing the Metropolitan Police, the largest police force in Britain,  of ‘failing victims of hate crime’.

The Berlin Police meanwhile confirmed many of the suspects  have what they consider a “right-extremist” background.

images-7Police announced that the raids show those Germans who think they can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet to conduct their vile behaviour are not as safe as they might think. They say that anyone who spreads hate may be next on the list of apartments to be raided in the future.

58 police were involved in the raids and some illegal items were found. Police found one revolver handgun, though it was not mentioned if it had any ammunition or whether or not is was deactivated.

Berlin has seen a rapid increase in prosecutions for hate speech on the internet. In 2014 there were 196 investigations, while 2015 saw 289 cases. In the last six months there have been three raids prior to this one, but so far this has been the largest in scale.

Investigators have set up a special task force who work with the organization Network Against Nazis (NAN),  headed by ex-stasi agent Anetta Kahani, to monitor internet postings across Germany.

A Berlin Police spokesman said that the team is constantly searching YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp and especially Facebook where most cases are pursued because users are forced to use their real names. He said the message of the raids is clear, “the internet is not above the law.”

The closest the British police have seemingly come to such activity is to issue an apparently menacing tweet, warning people not to get into trouble on-line.

As reported by Breitbart London, the Greater Glasgow Police offered internet users this helpful advice: “Think before you post or you may receive a visit from us this weekend. Use the internet safely. #thinkbeforeyoupost”.

Let us hope these words actually turn into action!

‘Proud’ Nazi targets tour party in Berlin

A Spanish tour group was harassed at a bus station, after visiting the Platform 17 Holocaust memorial in Berlin.

An elderly man began to harangue the tour group and complain about all the “dirty Jew monuments” in Berlin.

Platform 17 Holocaust memorial in Berlin
Platform 17 Holocaust memorial in Berlin

He spat at the group and made various statements in support of the Holocaust and Hitler. He told them among other things that they would all have been gassed, that his mother was a selector at a concentration camp and that he’s proud of it, and that if it was up to him, he would gas a lot more people than had been in the Holocaust.

At that point the bus driver at the station, who witnessed the whole thing, encouraged the passengers to board the bus, and when asked about the incident, told them to leave the man alone.

One German bank – Two Jewish controversies

Bank Sparkasse, one of the largest banks in Germany, has managed to generate two separate controversies in a matter of months but with one common theme.

In the first, Israel’s embassy in Berlin together with local and international Jewish groups sharply criticized the banking group for allowing an opponent of the existence of Israel, who likened the Jewish state to the Third Reich, to deliver a talk in its office space titled “Jew against Zionism.”

In the second, a Sparkasse bank teller refused to open an account for an Israeli living in Berlin, telling him that Israeli passport holders are under embargo.sparkasse

Lilian Rosengarten, an activist from New York, spoke last year in a Sparkasse office of the town of Düren, near Aachen. She is a member of the International Anti-Zionist network.

Dr. Robert Neugröschel, the head of the 1,000-member Jewish community in greater Aachen, which includes Düren, told The Jerusalem Post at the time that the Rosengarten talk was a “disgrace and of course anti-Semitic.”

Hildegard Förster-Heldmann, a Green Party politician who heads the Darmstadt municipal cultural affairs committee, said, “A comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany is absurd, disrespects the descendants of the Nazi victims and belittles the criminality of Nazi Germany.”

Efraim Zuroff
Efraim Zuroff

The action of the bank came in for further criticism from Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter who suggested the people at Sparkasse “should know better.”

“The Ostfriesen paper wrote earlier this year about an exhibit addressing the banking network’s role under the Third Reich, saying that “Sparkasse loyally served the Nazi regime.”

A Sparkasse spokesman, Dirk Hürtgen, suggested the bank “Could not establish that anti-Semitic thoughts were expressed in connection with the Düren municipal museum.”

Asked by the Post reporter if he agreed with Rosengarten’s statement that Israel is an apartheid state, Hürtgen said, “I can’t judge that.” He asked “why is it relevant whether anti-Semitism took place” in the room and noted that there are “different opinions.”

Meanwhile, just today, Ynet News reported that Israeli, Yakir Avraham, went to the Sparkasse’s branch in the Alexanderplatz area of Berlin, and when he gave the teller his Israeli passport in order to open a bank account, the teller took the passport and went into another room to check it. She returned a few minutes later and said “I’m very sorry, but we cannot open up a bank account for you here. We aren’t allowed to open accounts for citizens of countries under embargo.”

Avraham was reported as saying, “I was in shock at first. How did it get to the point that they treat us like lepers? I took my passport and left the bank.”

The bank management were challenged as to whether there was a specific bank policy concerning Israel, and what they meant by “a country under embargo.”

The bank responded by claiming, “It’s clear that this isn’t our business policy. This is an unfortunate mistake made by a young colleague who is still in training, and who didn’t know how to deal with the situation properly. She deeply apologizes for the mistake. We hope that Mr. Avraham accepts our explanation and apology.”

 

 

 

Disturbing new anti-Semitic targeting of Jews in Germany

Berlin, Germany – Since October 2015 there has been instances of the deliberate targeting of Jews and Israelis with anti-Semitic propaganda. The vile material has been attached to cars or left on balconies of members belonging to the local Jewish population or of visiting/resident Israelis.

anon germanyOn October 11 2015, an Israeli living in Savignyplatz found an anti-Semitic note attached to her car. In November 2015, a similar note was thrown onto the balconies of two Israeli families and in December, left on the cars of members of the Jewish community in Grunewald.

On January 31, a note was found on the balcony of a Jewish resident living near the Kurfürstendamm. On January 14, two such items were left as posters on walls in public areas on the corner of Kurfürstendamm / Bleibtreustraße.anon germany2

On January 28, a new anti-Semitic poster was applied to the traffic lights next to Olivaer Square.

The police are investigating.

Read more here.

German Jews – Why hide yourselves?

The Jewish Berlin community has removed its logo on envelopes containing its monthly magazine to protect members from anti-Semitic attacks.

The Jerusalem Post report the Jewish community spokesman Ilan Kiesling saying, “Despite considerably higher costs, the community’s executive board decided to send the community magazine in a neutral envelope, in order to reduce the hostility toward our more than 10,000 members. Many community members were thinking about cancelling their subscription.”

The security measure to send the magazine “Jewish Berlin” in an unmarked envelope was formulated as part of new security protocols with the police and the security department of the Berlin Jewish community.

“It is a sad reality that a large part of Jewish life for years has taken place behind bulletproof glass, barbed wire and security access controls,” said Kiesling.

He added the attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, which resulted in Islamic terrorists killing five Jews, have created a new situation leading to “great insecurity” among community members.

In response to the wave of lethal anti-Semitism across Europe, Josef Schuster, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, said that Jewish life “still is possible in Germany.”

ASW poses the question, how can Jewish life still be possible in Germany if hiding is the only solution?

Tell us what do you think?