On April 18, 2018, two young men, both wearing Jewish skullcaps, were insulted by a group of Muslims and whipped with a belt in a clearly anti-Semitic attack in Prenzlauer Berg, one Berlin's most fashionable neighborhoods. The violent assault, partly filmed by one of the victims, sparked national indignation in Germany. One of the attackers can be heard on the video clearly shouting "Yahudi" (Arabic for "Jew").
"It is intolerable for young men to be attacked here just because they are wearing a kippah," said Heiko Maas, the German Foreign Minister. "Jews must never again feel threatened here. It is our responsibility to protect Jewish life."
Pictured: A young Arab man attacks two young men wearing Jewish skullcaps in a Berlin street, on April 18, 2018. The attacker whipped the victims with a belt, while shouting "Yahudi" -- Arabic for "Jew". (Image source: CGTN video screenshot)
The incident echoes another case of anti-Semitism last December in Berlin. Then also, someone filmed a man, apparently born in Germany, insulting a Jewish restaurant owner, Yorai Feinberg, in the street. The aggressor made clear his understanding of the Holocaust and his compassion for the Palestinian cause. Although there was no violence, the case ignited public indignation.
On April 12, 2018, Kollegah and Farid Bang, two of Germany's most successful rappers, were given the award for best hip-hop/urban album at the ECHO Deutscher Muskikpreis -- Germany's biggest music awards ceremony. The two Muslim rappers, however, were under fire because of their song lyrics comparing their muscular physiques to the bodies of Auschwitz prisoners. Charlotte Knobloch, former head of Germany's Central Council of Jews, said that giving them an award for their album was a "devastating sign" amid growing signs of "anti-Semitism in our society, especially in schools." "The two rappers," she added, reach millions of mostly young people with their inhuman message."
These incidents reflect the complexity of the German situation in which imported Muslim anti-Semitism seems to be fueling a traditional German one.
In 2017, Germany saw an average of four anti-Semitic crimes per day, according to preliminary government data cited by Tagesspiegel. The final tally is expected to be higher. The Jewish German community is estimated at 150,000 people.
According to Tagesspiegel, police registered a total of 1,453 crimes that targeted Jews in 2017. This number consisted of 32 acts of violence, 160 cases of property damage and 898 cases of incitement. Among those crimes, 33 were attributed to foreign-born perpetrators, not including Islamists. In addition, 25 of the crimes were "religiously motivated," with some involving either foreign-born or German Muslims with extremist beliefs. Police were unable to determine a political motive in 17 of the cases, while one case of incitement was found to have a "left-wing" motive.
For Die Welt, this showed that "Germany is losing the battle against anti-Semitism, as [before that] France or Sweden".
In France, the battle against anti-Semitism was lost long ago. Between 2006 and 2017, fifteen French Jews were murdered by anti-Semitic Muslims. The stabbing and the burning of Mireille Knoll in March 2017 added one more victim to a list that goes through the murder of Sébastien Sellam in Paris (2003), the kidnapping and murder of Ilan Halimi (2006), the massacre at a Jewish school in Toulouse (2012), the assault of a young Jewish couple in Créteil (2014), the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris (2015), the machete attack on a Jewish teacher in Marseille (2016), the murder of Sarah Halimi in Paris (April 2017), the hostage-taking of a Jewish family in Livry-Gargan (September 2017).
"The Jewish community represents less than 1% of the French population (approximately half a million people) but were victims of 40% of all racist crimes" says Fredéric Potier, France's interministerial delegate against racism and antisemitism.
According to the 2017 report of the Ministry of Interior, anti-Semitic threats decreased by 7.2% in 2017 compared to 2016. However, stabbings, assaults and other violent acts targeting Jews increased by 26%. In other words, attackers and murderers of Jews do not necessarily speak first; they just stab. According to Nonna Mayer, Director of Research at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS):
"These figures reflect trends; they are not exhaustive. They largely underestimate ordinary anti-Semitism (spitting, insults, hostile looks) on a daily basis. Many victims do not file complaints. When they do, their complaint is not always recorded."
Great Britain: In 2017, hate incidents against Jews reached a record level, "with the Jewish community targeted at a rate of nearly four times a day," reports The Guardian.
"This was the highest tally that the trust has registered for a calendar year since it began gathering such data in 1984. The figure rose by 3%, compared to a total, in 2016, of 1,346 incidents -- a tally that itself was a record annual total", according to The Guardian.
The CST report -- perhaps because the organization has developed educational programs with Muslim organizations -- avoids targeting any Muslim anti-Semitism, except for terrorist attacks.
The uniqueness of Britain is that anti-Semitism has also spread widely among the political class. Accusations from the national chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) against Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and other members of his party have provoked a huge controversy.
Sweden: In December 2017, after an arson attack on a synagogue in Gothenburg and anti-Semitic chants at a demonstration in Malmö, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven admitted: "We have a problem in Swedish society with anti-Semitism."
According to the most recent figures from Sweden's National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), an average of 228 anti-Semitic hate crimes against the tiny Swedish Jewish community (about 15,000 people) are reported each year. The figure has remained stable for the past decade, but has had a tendency to peak after heightened turmoil in Israel; in 2015, there were 277 reported anti-Semitic incidents compared to 182 the year after. Anti-Semitic hate crimes have occurred mainly in public places (24%) and online (20%).
Anti-Semitism in Sweden is apparently a multifaceted problem that cannot be reduced just to a problem of Muslim migrants. Right-wing groups spread hostility towards Jews, and "love to position anti-Semitism as a problem limited to Muslim groups and exploit the issue in order to cast suspicion on and stigmatize Muslims" according to Henrik Bachner, a historian and leading researcher on anti-Semitism in Sweden.
Two polls of attitudes toward Jews were carried by the Living History Forum, a Swedish public agency that works on issues of tolerance, democracy and human rights. Their most recent poll is from 2010 (the one before that was from 2005), and suggests that while 18% of Swedish high school students expressed anti-Semitic attitudes towards Jews, "that number increased to 55 percent among students who identified as Muslim" according to the website TheLocal.se.
Belgium: In 2017, "35 Anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in Belgium (64 in 2016). These figures confirm the decline observed in previous years compared to the record number of incidents in 2014 (109 incidents)," according to the "Anti-Semitism in Belgium" report for 2017, published by Antisemitisme.be, a website supported by the Jewish Central Consistory of Belgium.
These "low figures" for 2017 can be explained by the fact that the 50,000 Jews of Belgium live mainly in Brussels and Antwerp and, as in France, their schools and synagogues are protected around the clock by the army and police. Also, as in France, many Jewish students have left public schools to avoid daily hostility from Muslims students. The report further states:
"Jews in general, and more specifically in Brussels, 'hide' their Jewishness (star of David, skullcaps...) in public, to diminish the likelihood of being harassed in public places" because "everyone knows they are Jewish."
Politicians Preoccupied with Islamophobia
Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany and President Emmanuel Macron in France regularly condemn anti-Semitic attacks in their respective countries. These reproofs have become frequent in Europe. Each time an anti-Semitic attack receives media attention, politicians rush to condemn it. But verbal condemnations alone change nothing. Anti-Semitism just gets bigger.
Worse, all plans, measures and laws go the same way: to protect anti-Semites. In Berlin, in December, 2017, Israeli flags were burned at the Brandenburg Gate after US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In response to chants of "Israel, murderer of children", the local police explained that flag-burning is protected by freedom of speech laws. In France, in 2017, a prosecutor appealed the acquittal of Georges Bensoussan, a prominent French scholar charged with being a "racist" for having publicly said that "in Muslim families, anti-Semitism is sucked with mother's milk".
The European Union has adopted anti-Israel policies out of fear of upsetting Muslims, but this fear has been fueling Muslim anti-Semitism. When European governments refuse to accept Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and when they urge "restraint" instead of affirming that Israel has the right to defend itself, they are indulging in appeasement. On one side, they condemn anti-Semitism but on other, they are just whipping it up.
Yves Mamou, author and journalist, based in France, worked for two decades as a journalist for Le Monde. He is completing a book, "Collaborators and Useful Idiots of Islamism in France," to be published in 2018.