Germany still fighting anti-Semitism

November 7, 2008

To mark the 70th anniversary of “Kristallnacht”, when Nazis ransacked Jewish shops and homes and set synagogues ablaze, the German parliament this week passed a resolution on anti-Semitism.

It says anti-Semitism is still a problem that Germany needs to take seriously and calls for a team of experts to report regularly on anti-Semitic activity in Germany and to recommend steps to combat it.

A row with the Left party over the resolution sparked criticism from the Central Council of Jews and overshadowed a wider debate in Germany on the subject.

There has been much talk in the last couple of years about the revival of Jewish life in Germany and it is true that synagogues have sprung up and cultural organisations are now flourishing in some cities.

This is all to the good but it cannot hide a more sombre reality in the country responsible for the Holocaust in which 6 million Jews were killed.

Last year, 1,541 crimes against Jews were reported in Germany, of which 59 were violent offences. German synagogues have round-the-clock police surveillance and Europe’s biggest Jewish cemetry, Weissensee, in Berlin, has been vandalised.

The number of registered Jews in Germany has risen to more than 100,000 from just 12,000 after World War Two, although many more non-practising Jews live here. The increase is mainly thanks to immigrants from the former Soviet Union. 

Only last weekend, two men in a Mercedes braked in front of van with a Rabbi and eight students inside in a smart part of western Berlin and hurled anti-Semitic abuse at them.

Chancellor Angela Merkel will no doubt condemn anti-Semitism this weekend at a ceremony to commemorate “Kristallnacht”. But have she, her government and the German establishment done enough to root out anti-Semitism?

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