- “It is a disgrace, and it shames me deeply, how racism and anti-Semitism are expressed in our country in these times.”
- Racist and anti-Semitic posters, flags and slogans have been used in several demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions.
- Josef Schuster said that the anti-Semitic aggression reached a record level in 2019 of the “last 20 years.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that she is “ashamed” of the escalation of anti-Semitism and racism in the country, at a ceremony honoring the 70th anniversary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. Chancellor Merkel made her remarks at a synagogue in the German capital, Berlin.
“We can be glad of flourishing Jewish life,” Merkel said. “But that is only one part of today’s reality. The other part of today’s reality is that many Jews don’t feel safe and respected in our country, and it causes me great concern.”
“It is a disgrace, and it shames me deeply, how racism and anti-Semitism are expressed in our country in these times,” she added. “Racism and anti-Semitism never disappeared, but for some time now they have become more visible and uninhibited.”
Racist and anti-Semitic posters, flags and slogans have been used in several demonstrations in recent months in Germany against restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic in the country.
The German chancellor lamented that insults, threats, as well as conspiracy theories are openly and unfairly directed against Jewish citizens, with the said threats mostly propagated via the use of various social media platforms.
“We know how quickly words can become deeds,” Merkel said, in reference to the botched attack on a Halle synagogue last year by a German man who had posted an anti-Semitic screed online. The attack was thwarted but resulted in two deaths.
The president of the Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, on his part, said that the anti-Semitic aggression reached a record level in 2019 of the “last 20 years.”
He said that the coronavirus pandemic is in a way acting as a catalyst with numerous conspiracy theories circulating on the internet that point to Jews as the cause of the virus.
He also lamented that it has since become evident that the ideas of the Nazis have not yet disappeared, and that anti-Semitic prejudices are passed on from generation to generation, consciously or unconsciously.
“But on the whole, love . . . for us Jews could be greater — or at least respect,” Schuster said. “That is more and more frequently lacking.”
The Central Council of Jews in Germany was founded in 1950 to represent the Jews who survived the Nazi Holocaust. Merkel, whose leadership has always been fair to all the ethnic groups residing in the country, enacted legislation to tighten penalties for anti-Semitism after the October 9, 2019, Halle synagogue shooting, promising “zero tolerance” in “fighting hate.”
In the said attack, a 27-year-old man tried to enter a synagogue, where people were celebrating Yom Kippur, the most important religious holiday on the Jewish calendar. Failing to do so, the man killed two passers-by and wounded two others before being arrested.