BERLIN (AP) — The head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews said Wednesday that anti-Semitism is growing in the country, causing concern for a community that is otherwise blossoming more than seven decades after the Holocaust.
Josef Schuster said at a reception of the American Jewish Committee in Berlin on Wednesday that Jews in Germany fear the increased anti-Semitism of far-right nationalists, Muslims immigrants and leftists, who often disguise their anti-Semitism as criticism of Israel.
Schuster said that in recent surveys,”90 percent of Jews perceive anti-Semitism as a very big problem and … 70% avoid carrying any Jewish symbols in public.”
He also called out the nationalist Alternative for Germany, which he said tolerates Holocaust deniers in their party and does not distance itself clearly from anti-Semitic sentiment.
The Jewish community had largely condemned the election surge last month of the far-right party, known in Germany as AfD, which garnered some 13% of the vote in the national poll, making it the country’s third largest faction in parliament.
Most German Jews repudiate the AfD as anti-Semitic, pointing to its anti-immigration and anti-Muslim platform and arguing that whoever targets Muslims and other minorities will sooner or later seek to harm the Jews’ religious freedoms.
“It is abhorrent that the AfD party, a disgraceful reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany’s past and should be outlawed, now has the ability within the German parliament to promote its vile platform,” said World Jewish Congress president Ron Lauder.
Past statements from senior AfD officials suggested a desire to change Germany’s admission of guilt for the Holocaust and admiration for Wehrmacht soldiers during World War II.
Despite intense efforts, party officials were never quite able to get rid of the impression that it had become a platform for anti-Semites, racists and other xenophobes.