December 17, 2020
This is the fourth installment of a series on the State of Antisemitism Around the Globe, in which AJC experts share their insights about nine international communities where particular expressions of Jew hatred are on the rise. The next piece will focus on Scandinavia.
Shortly after an attack near a synagogue in Germany some worshipers there rushed to leave – afraid their bosses would find out where they’d been.
“That pretty much sums it up,” Remko Leemhuis, the Director of AJC’s Berlin Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations, said. “They’re afraid of telling their employers they’re Jewish. The situation overall is deteriorating. We’ve seen this for years.”
Though German leaders prioritize the protection of Jews as part of Germany’s Staatsräson, or national interest, the reality on the ground is grim.
The 2018 FRA survey found that 85% of the German respondents consider antisemitism to be a “very big” or a “fairly big” problem in their country and 89% believe antisemitism has increased over the past five years. Of the respondents who experienced antisemitic harassment in the five years before the survey, 79% did not report the most serious incident to the police or to any other organization. Almost half said nothing would have changed had they done so.
Even more discouraging are reports that right-wing extremists have infiltrated the security services and police forces that are charged with protecting Germany’s Jewish communities. Since last year’s attack on a synagogue in Halle on Yom Kippur, Leemhuis said, authorities have been slow to react and enhance security.
Meanwhile, surveys of the general German public show that at least 20% hold antisemitic views, such as the belief that Jews have too much influence and use the Holocaust to get financial benefit. Furthermore, Leemhuis said, anti-Zionism—the belief that Israel has no right to exist, regarded by most Jews as antisemitic—has made antisemitism acceptable in mainstream German society once again.