Antisemitism is widespread among Arab refugees in Germany, concluded a study commissioned by the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

Reporting on the study, AJC Berlin Director Deidre Berger said: “Until now, reports that many new arrivals in Germany espouse antisemitism have been largely anecdotal. But this new scientific analysis shows that the problem is widespread in the refugee communities from Syria and Iraq. Antisemitic attitudes, stereotypes, and conspiracy theories are common, as well as a categorical rejection by many of the State of Israel.”

The study was conducted in Berlin by Dr. Günther Jikeli, a historian and expert on antisemitism who teaches at Indiana University and the University of Potsdam. It is based on interviews with 68 refugees aged 18 to 52 from the two countries. A follow-up study by the researcher with 85 additional respondents confirms the results.

“This study should send a wake-up call to government and civil society. Our political leaders must make certain that antisemitic attitudes will not be tolerated, and that infractions of the law will be prosecuted. In addition, the classes that newcomers take to integrate them into German life should include information about Jewish life in Germany and the country’s connections with Israel, as well as values of liberal democracy,” Berger said. “Given the depth of anti-Jewish hostility in Arab countries, this is not surprising; nonetheless, the dimensions of the problem are much larger than expected.”

Even so, Berger noted, “the study showed that some refugees hold considerably more nuanced positions than others. In particular, those who were persecuted as minorities in Syria and Iraq take clearer stances against antisemitism and hatred of Israel.”  Some of those interviewed also indicated growing doubts about at least some antisemitic stereotypes when confronted with information about Jews, Israel and the Holocaust. This shows the critical need for more educational measures.”

Publication of this study comes against the backdrop of a new wave of antisemitic hate protests in Berlin and Munich, where Arab and Turkish demonstrators burned Israeli flags, chanted antisemitic slogans, and flew the flags of the terrorist organization Hamas.

In the wake of these recent developments, Berger said “we are thankful that Chancellor Merkel has clearly condemned this hatred. What we need now is clear political action.”

AJC has repeatedly urged the German government to appoint a Federal Commissioner for Antisemitism Affairs to coordinate government responses to antisemitism, and to step up prevention measures. Dr. Josef Schuster, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and German-Yazidi integration expert Duezen Tekkal, among others, have made similar requests.

Read the full AJC study in German.

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