Olaf Scholz rails against spread of anti-Semitism to Germany

Chancellor Olaf Scholz rails against spread of anti-Semitism to Germany amid Israel-Hamas war – after Berlin synagogue was firebombed

  • Scholz made the comments at the inauguration of the temple in Dessau

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has railed against the spread of anti-Semitism to Germany as the Israel-Hamas war rages on.

Scholz warned today at the inauguration of a new synagogue that the vow of ‘never again’ must be unbreakable. 

Scholz’s remarks come as antisemitic incidents have been rising in Germany following the violent escalation of the war in Gaza.

Assailants threw two Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in Berlin on Wednesday, prompting Scholz to say that attacks on Jewish institutions would never be accepted.

Scholz expanded on his comments at the inauguration of the Weill Synagogue in Dessau, a city in eastern Germany whose synagogue was destroyed in the ‘Kristallnacht’ anti-Jewish pogrom on November 9, 1938.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz holds a kippa after the inauguration of the Weill Synagogue in Dessau, Germany, on October 22, 2023

Police stand outside after two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Skoblo Synagogue and Education Center overnight in Berlin, Germany, October 18, 2023

‘I am deeply outraged by the way in which antisemitic hatred and inhuman agitation have been breaking out since that fateful October 7, on the internet, in social media around the world, and shamefully also here in Germany,’ Scholz said.

‘Here in Germany, of all places.

‘That is why our “never again” must be unbreakable.’

Scholz spoke as he gathered with Jewish leaders at the synagogue, named after the German-American composer Kurt Weill, whose father was a cantor in Dessau’s Jewish community.

He noted that the community has recently grown as it welcomed people from Ukraine.

‘This synagogue here in the middle in Dessau says that Jewish life is and remains a part of Germany. It belongs here,’ Scholz said.

‘Germany will do everything to protect and strengthen Jewish life.’

Following Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel on October 7 and the subsequent war in Gaza, police have increased security for Jewish institutions in Berlin and all over Germany.

Israeli flags that were flown as a sign of solidarity in front of city halls all over the country have been torn down and burnt.

Several buildings in Berlin where Jews live had the Star of David painted on doors and walls.

A Star of David was sprayed outside a building in the Prenzlauberg neighborhood in Berlin earlier this month

A Pro-Palestinian demonstrator is detained during a protest during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Berlin, Germany, on October 13, 2023

There must be no turning a blind eye ‘when Jews are not safe on Germany’s streets, when Stars of David are smeared on homes, when firebombs are thrown at synagogues’, Scholz said. 

Meanwhile, in Berlin, thousands of people gathered at a demonstration organised to show opposition to antisemitism and support for Israel.

People carried Israeli flags or posters with photos of some of the people reported to be missing or held by Hamas as hostages.

The protest was organised by a broad alliance of various organisations.

Susanne Liebegott, a 60-year-old teacher, said she attended the rally in Berlin because ‘it is important for me to stand against anti-Semitism’.

‘I’m not necessarily pro-Israel and don’t really take a stand. But the anti-Semitism in Germany, which is also on the rise, worries me a lot,’ she said. 

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told those gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin: ‘It is unbearable that Jews are living in fear again today – in our country of all places.

‘Every single attack on Jews, on Jewish institutions is a disgrace for Germany. Every single attack fills me with shame and anger.’

Police scuffle with protesters at the pro-Israel rally at the Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz in Berlin on October 22, 2023.

Participants wave Israel flags during a rally in solidarity with Israel in Berlin, Germany, on  October 22, 2023

Steinmeier also called it a ‘civic duty’ to oppose antisemitism in Germany.

Germany has the third-largest Jewish community in Europe, according to the interior ministry. 

The Central Council of Jews in Germany puts the number of practising Jews in the country at around 100,000 and the number of synagogues at around 100. 

Anti-Semitic acts have increased sharply in the country amid the latest turmoil in the Middle East, according to the Federal Association of Research and Information Centres on Anti-Semitism (RIAS).

In the period from October 7 to 15, RIAS documented 202 anti-Semitic ‘incidents’ compared with just 59 during the same week in 2022.

Sigmount Koenigsberg, a pointman on anti-Semitism for the city’s Jewish community, told the Rheinische Post newspaper on Sunday that the rise anti-Jewish incidents brought back painful memories of Nazi Germany.

‘It is the first time since Nazi rule that this is happening again in Germany. It reminds my community very much of that terrible time,’ he said.

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