Berlin 2018: More than a thousand antisemitic incidents

The old, ugly specter of antisemitism is all over Europe, but Berlin becoming the antisemitism capital of the continent? That shocks the most.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld , | updated: 08:55

Manfred Gerstenfeld
Manfred Gerstenfeld
Manfred Gerstenfeld

In 2018 there were 1083 antisemitic incidents in Berlin. This figure is disclosed in a new report of the Research and Information Center for Antisemitism in Berlin [RIAS]. It represents an increase of 14% over 2017. The incidents included 46 physical attacks, 43 cases of intentional damage to property, and 46 threats.

The increase in these three areas is far greater than the overall increase in antisemitic incidents. RIAS concludes that this reflects two simultaneous trends in Berlin: an increasing violent expression of antisemitism and a lowering of the hate threshold. Also some non-Jews have become victims of antisemitic incidents.

The authors of the report write that many of the incidents take place on the basis of incidental meetings. They also mention that, contrary to the previous year, there was in 2018 not a single neighborhood in Berlin without an antisemitic incident. With regards to damages against property these concerned in ten cases memorial stones for Jewish victims of national socialism, in six cases memorials and in three cases educational institutions.

The RIAS statistics differ from the figures published by the police. The report includes also complaints that were not mentioned to the police or are not punishable under German law. Experts say that in Germany laws are stricter concerning antisemitism than elsewhere. This seemingly explains the high number of antisemitic incidents. Yet most probably the actual number of incidents is even much greater than what RIAS reports. Many people do not inform any institution of incidents they have become victims of.

Recently the German Agency for Domestic Security released a 40 page report titled “Antisemitism in Islamism.” This represented a breakthrough. Never before has an intelligence agency in Europe published such a study. It listed inter alia a number of extreme Muslims organizations active in the country. These included local branches of the genocidal terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah. Also ISIS is active in Germany.

Benjamin Steinitz head of the RIAS project, said that a large number of the perpetrators of antisemitic incidents are unknown. In the report the figure mentioned is 49%. Yet the police falsely considers all of these as being caused by right wing extremists. This leads to the highly misleading figure reported by the Berlin police that in 2017 more than 94% of antisemitic incidents were caused by right wing perpetrators.

Yet in March 2018, a Berlin police report revealed that antisemitic crimes in the capital had doubled during the 2013-17 period. Police sources told the German newspaper, Tagesspiegel, that the rise in antisemitism was connected to the increased number of migrants from the Middle East living in the city. National antisemitism commissioner, Felix Klein, has also admitted that statistics presented by RIAS support the feeling among Jews that Muslims are far more involved in antisemitic incidents than official statistics indicate.

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The RIAS report also mentions as one category antisemitic incidents deriving “from Islamism.” This is a wrong definition of this category. It should say that these incidents were caused by “Muslim perpetrators.” “Islamism’ is a vaguely defined extreme form of Islam. Many experts consider it a legitimate expression of this religion. It is however known that in Europe Muslim perpetrators of many extreme and other antisemitic incidents did not hold radical religious views.


The German Justice Senator Dirk Behrendt (Green Party) reacted to the report saying: "the figures show that we have an antisemitism problem.  It has grown and stabilized in our society."
It may however well be that RIAS has no other choice in the German environment than to use the word “Islamism” as the country’s authorities frequently do so. Mentioning the accurate expression “Muslim antisemitism” is apparently still often considered politically incorrect. When reading the report of the Domestic Security Agency it becomes clear that it also deals to a substantial degree with Muslim antisemitism. Yet the expression “Islamism” in its title reflects the same political correctness

RIAS receives a subsidy from the Berlin authorities. It has been founded by the organization for Democratic culture in Berlin (VDK). Bianca Klose - manager of VDK reacted to the report by saying that there is a trend in the antisemic incidents occurring “from using words to acts." She pointed out that it isn't sufficient to look to the extreme right but also toward the middle of society. Klose stressed that the majority of antisemitic expressions in the past referred to the destruction of the European Jews during national socialism. She mentioned that this has led for instance to a reversal of the perpetrator/victim relation and/or the relativizing of the denial of the Holocaust. Nowadays in half the cases stereotypes of Israel-related antisemitism were used.

When the German weekly der Spiegel, published an article on the RIAS report, a huge number of comments appeared. The paper closed the discussion after it had published more than 300 comments.  

The German Justice Senator Dirk Behrendt (Green Party) reacted to the report saying: "the figures show that we have an antisemitism problem.  It has grown and stabilized in our society."

For those who deny that Berlin is currently the European capital of antisemitism, the RIAS report may raise some doubt. Nobody has been murdered or seemingly even hospitalized after an antisemitic incident. Yet besides the large number of documented incidents there a variety of other reasons which strongly support the case for calling Berlin Europe’s antisemitism capital.




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