Germany’s government reported to Green Party MP Volker Beck on Friday an increase in the number of criminal antisemitic acts. This includes Israel-related antisemitism, and the classification of Hezbollah’s crimes as far-right extremism.
The federal government said 681 antisemitic incidents occurred in the first half of 2017–a 4% increase when compared to the same period in 2016 (in which 654 criminal antisemitic acts took place) .
Beck told the Jerusalem Post that “The antisemitic and anti-Israel criminal offenses are only the tip of the iceberg.” He added the registered offenses are only those that the victims came forward to report. “The estimated number of unreported cases, I fear, is clearly higher,” said Beck.
Dr. Emily Haber from the German federal interior ministry said that 20 “politically motivated criminal offenses under the category Israel” took place in the documented 2017 period. The police conducted investigations against 12 perpetrators. There were no physical injuries reported.
In the same period in 2016, the federal government said 17 political crimes against Israel were registered. The authorities investigated 6 suspects and no injuries were cited. Anti-Israel criminal acts were listed under the sub-topic “Israel-Palestine conflict.” Starting in January, 2017, politically-animated attacks against Israel are listed under the sub-rubric “Israel.” The cited suspects hailed from Germany, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey.
Antisemitic acts not related to Israel accounted for 681 offenses in the 2017 period. The authorities investigated 339 people and nine people were injured. In 2016, the government registered 654 anti-Semitic criminal crimes and 400 suspects were investigated. Eight people were injured because of antisemitic offenses in 2016.
According to federal statistics, 92.8% of criminal acts had a right-wing extremist background. However, critics say the federal government’s classification system is inaccurate.
Benjamin Steinitz, the head of the RIAS group in Berlin that tracks antisemitism, told Die Welt paper on Friday there is a “discrepancy between the perception of antisemitic attacks, insults, taunts and police statistics.” According to a 2017 federal government report on antisemitism, the crime of Jew-hatred is designated by the category of “politically motivated right-wing extremist crime.” A telling example, cited in Die Welt, was an outbreak of Islamic-animated antisemitism that was registered as right-wing extremism.
Supporters of the US and EU classified terrorist organization Hezbollah participated in an anti-Israeli march during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The Hezbollah supporters formed a 20-person group and yelled the pro-Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil” at a group of pro-Israel activists in Berlin. The “Sieg Heil” call violates Germany’s anti-hate law and was registered as a far-right extremist crime.
There are 250 active Hezbollah supporters and members in Berlin. Germany’s interior ministry declined to outlaw all of Hezbollah in Germany. There are 950 Hezbollah operatives spread across the federal republic.
According to the Die Welt report, “The Islamic part of antisemitic offenses in police statistics is clearly underrated.” Beck, who heads the German-Israel parliamentary caucus group, cited the high levels of antisemitism in Germany, including that 40% of Germany’s population of 82 million are infected with contemporary antisemitism – hatred of the Jewish state–according to the federal report.
“We must fight all forms of anti-Semitism,” said Beck. He called on the federal government to appoint a commissioner for antisemitism, as well as for civic society to initiate “educational programs against modern forms of antisemitism, conspiracy theories and anti-Zionism.”
Charlotte Knobloch, the head of Munich’s Jewish community, said in a Friday statement: “The Muslim associations have for decades not only done nothing [to combat antisemitism] ,rather they have allowed that anti-Semitic hate-preachers from Muslim countries to bring their anti-Jewish ideology into German mosques and into the heads of young Muslims.”