In Germany, Anti-Semitism Comes from Both the Resurgent Far Right and the Muslim Immigrants It Despises

October 24, 2018 | Liam Hoare
About the author: Liam Hoare is a freelance writer whose work on politics and literature has featured in The Atlantic, The Forward, and The Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of University College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies.

A populist hard right has emerged in Germany in recent years, driven by hostility toward both the European Union and mass immigration. Although its supporters are by no means uniformly anti-Semitic, it has left anti-Semites emboldened. Liam Hoare writes:

On August 27 at around 10 p.m., a mob numbering around a dozen approached the kosher restaurant Schalom in the eastern German town of Chemnitz. Far-right demonstrators had been marauding around the city center that day shouting, “Foreigners, out!” and, in some cases, giving the Hitler salute. Dressed in black, their faces covered, the gang descended upon Schalom—launching rocks, bottles, and a metal pipe. The building was damaged and the owner, Uwe Dziuballa, injured. “Judensau, hau ab aus Deutschland,” the assailants reportedly shouted—“Jewish pigs, get out of Germany.”

The day before, a thirty-five-year-old German man was stabbed and killed in Chemnitz during an altercation. Local police arrested two men, including a twenty-three-year-old Syrian refugee. Multiple demonstrations and counter-demonstrations broke out that evening. Packs of far-right thugs “hunted foreigners through the city streets,” the Guardian reported. . . . It is in this context that, the following day, Dziuballa’s restaurant Schalom was set upon. . . .

The far-right populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) [also] held its own rally in Chemnitz. . . . AfD politicians have . . . challenged the German national consensus regarding the country’s past. In January 2017, the regional AfD leader Björn Höcke called Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe a “memorial of shame” and said Germany needs to completely change its “memory politics.” One of their national leaders, Alexander Gauland, . . . landed himself in hot water for arguing Germans “have the right to be proud of the achievements of the German soldiers in two world wars.” . . .

Of course, anti-Semitism in contemporary Germany does not come from the far right alone. Anti-Semitism “is widespread in the refugee communities from Syria and Iraq,” a December 2017 study published by the American Jewish Committee found. . . . Incidents such as the assault on a twenty-one-year-old kippah-wearing Israeli by a nineteen-year-old Syrian refugee in Berlin led Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, to warn “against openly wearing a kippah in big German cities.”

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