By Toby Axelrod
BERLIN — The German government’s annual report on the development of extremism notes an increase of nearly 29% in anti-Semitic crimes in 2021 compared to the previous year.
The report, released by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution on Tuesday, is based on statistics released in May by the Federal Criminal Police Office, the German equivalent of the FBI.
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A total of 3,027 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded last year, compared to 2,351 in 2020. The vast majority were linked to right-wing extremism, but Islamic extremist anti-Semitism is also on the rise, with 122 incidents reported compared to 26 the previous year.
Most of the crimes reported relate to illegal statements and publications – Holocaust denial and other forms of hate speech are banned in Germany – including on the internet. But attacks on people and synagogues have also been recorded.
As usual, the number of incidents increased when tensions between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors peaked in May 2021.
The most worrying trends come in the form of burgeoning conspiracy theories linking Jews to the coronavirus pandemic and measures to curb it, leaders and watchdogs have said.
“Some protesters against Germany’s response to the pandemic are ‘blaming imaginary Jews for profiting from it and at the same time attaching Jewish stars’ to their clothes, as if to say they are the new Jews, Benjamin said. Steinitz, director of the Berlin-Berlin Center for Research and Information on Antisemitism, or RIAS: “Antisemitic conspiracy myths and the trivialization of the Holocaust have been normalized. This is a worrying development.”
He added that a “dark field of anti-Semitic incidents” goes unreported in government statistics. “We have to assume that… the recorded incidents are just the tip of the iceberg,” he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The Berlin-based Amadeu Antonio Foundation released its own report on Wednesday, sounding the alarm on the evolution of war-related anti-Semitism in Ukraine (including comparing Putin to Hitler and Ukraine to the cause). Palestinian); resentment over the rescue of Holocaust survivors from Ukraine; and the glorification of terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.
These developments pose “an acute threat to Jewish life in Germany,” according to the foundation, which focuses on combating xenophobia and anti-Semitism.
Meanwhile, more than 60% of respondents to a recent survey agreed that anti-Semitism in Germany has risen sharply. Released in May by the office of the American Jewish Committee in Berlinthe study – commissioned from the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research – also showed that Muslims and supporters of the populist right-wing Alternative for Germany party are most likely to harbor anti-Semitic biases.
Right-wing extremist motivation continued to far exceed all other categories in government research. Out of 3,027 cases, 2,552 were attributed to neo-Nazi ideology. Of these, 64 were violent crimes, including 51 cases of physical injury.
Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told ZDFheute TV news on Tuesday that reporting on extremism – from left to right – “shows that Jewish life in Germany continues to be massively threatened. And the greatest danger comes from the extreme right scene.