Germany's Bundestag
Germany's BundestagiStock

Felix Klein, Germany's first anti-Semitism commissioner, said on Thursday that he will make establishing a central register a priority when he takes office on May 1 in order to better understand anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish sentiment, DW reported.

"There has always been anti-Semitism in Germany, but it is more blatant now, more aggressive," he was quoted as having told rbb public radio.

Klein stressed that there were already good regional initiatives, but that a nationwide register would help get "a good overview" of anti-Jewish offenses in Germany.

In January, the German Bundestag approved legislation to establish a commissioner to handle the issue of rising anti-Semitism in the country. The bill stated that anti-Semitic crimes “could still mainly be attributed to the far right, but that migration from the Middle East and North Africa had exacerbated the problem.”

Many Jewish community members and other observers attribute rising anti-Semitism in Germany to an influx of Muslim migrants hailing from countries with deep-rooted hatred of Jews and Israel, as well as the rise of far-right political parties.

Charlotte Knobloch, the former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, voiced concern several months ago over the growing anti-Semitism in the country, saying the threat comes from the center of German society and the government needs to act.

Klein's comments came just a day after thousands of people took to the streets of Berlin wearing kippahs to protest anti-Semitism and the attack on an Israeli by three Arabic-speaking men last week.

Klein said that while there are concerns about anti-Semitism among some Muslim migrants, he is most worried about what he termed "secondary anti-Semitism, which lies at the heart of society…people who are prejudiced; supposedly funny jokes at the dinner table."

"That's a challenge for our society, which can only be solved medium-to-longterm," he told rbb.

He added he wants to improve cooperation with Germany's Muslim associations, whose response to anti-Semitism, he says, could be "more coordinated."