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Berlin: Number of Antisemitic Incidents Remains High, Includes Violent Attacks

RIAS Berlin, an organization which documents cases of Jew hatred, introduced its evaluation for 2021 on Tuesday. There were more than 1,000 antisemitic incidents. Two cases of “extreme violence” were among them.

Berlin, May 24th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — The fact that there is so much antisemitism in Berlin, and that the situation does not improve but worsens, 77 years after Nazi Germany was defeated, would be unbelievable if this tendency had not been registered for years. Jewish Berliners are not only being insulted and threatened, but also attacked. The hatred comes from the far right, the far left and parts of the large Muslim community in the German capital.

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Physical Attacks

According to RIAS, there were 1,052 incidents that involved Jew hatred in 2021. For the first time, “extreme violence” was resorted to, in two cases. This category includes incidents in which guns were used and other physical attacks that can kill people. On August 16th, 2021, a bullet hole was identified in a window of a building that belongs to a Jewish congregation in Berlin’s Mitte district. Luckily, nobody was harmed in this case.

On October 25th, three juveniles in the Spandau borough attacked a man. He suffered life-threatening head injuries. Before he was beaten, he was told to shout “Free Palestine!”. He refused. There were 22 additional attacks, according to RIAS. People were beaten on an ‘S-Bahn’ train, spat at on the street and irritant gas was sprayed at them. In fourteen of these cases, the victims were Jewish and addressed as such. In the other eight attacks, they were insulted in antisemitic ways.

Jewish Symbols

In some of the worst cases of hatred towards Jews in 2021, Jewish symbols the victims were wearing played a role. The attackers saw them and asked their victims if they were Jews before they hit or sprayed them. These kinds of incidents took place during the first five months of this year as well. During a rally on May 15th, 2022, Jews who were there by coincidence, and then attacked, were told to remove their Jewish symbols by police officers, as if the visibility of their Jewish identity had been the main cause for the attack. According to RIAS, this kind of approach exonerates antisemites.

There were attacks with an antisemitic background in all of Berlin’s districts except for Reinickendorf. Most of them were registered in Neukölln, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and Tempelhof-Schöneberg. Many attacks took place on the street or in public transport, others in the victim’s homes.

Data Protection

RIAS says the attacks unsettle both the victims and other Jews. They affect their decisions in regard to the
Berlin districts they are ready to live in and on visible Jewish symbols they will wear. Some Jews avoid certain spots in the city or they keep them from speaking Hebrew on the street. Some Israelis refrain from mentioning where they are from in public. Generally, most Jews in Germany are very careful about mentioning their Jewish identity.

On average, there are three antisemitic incidents per day. This year, the numbers are not quite as precise as last year, because the Berlin Police Department refused to hand over its data on antisemitic crimes to RIAS, supposedly for reasons that have to do do with data protection. Berlin’s police does combat antisemitism along with other kinds of hatred and extremism, including in its own ranks. But the aspect about the data was criticized by RIAS and Berlin’s Commissioner for the Fight Against Antisemitism, Samuel Salzborn.

RIAS’ evaluation on antisemitism in Berlin in 2021 can be accessed here (German only).

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