Sigmount Königsberg, the anti-Semitism commissioner of the Jewish Community of Berlin has sharply condemned an attack on a man wearing a yarmulke in the Prenzlauer Berg district of the German capital on Tuesday. “It makes one angry because such incidents happen again and again,” Königsberg told Spiegel, calling it an “attack on democracy,” and declaring that the perpetrator is “outside the legal system.”
A video shows how a young man gets upset about being taped by a “Jewish” cameraman and hitting the latter with his belt, calling him “Yahudi” (Arabic for Jew) several times. The video shows only a part of the confrontation, and it’s unclear ensued before the blows.
Berlin police said a 21-year-old Israeli and his 24-year-old German companion, who wore a kippah, were traveling in Prenzlauer Berg on Tuesday evening when three men attacked them. One of the attackers then took a belt and began beating the 21-year-old.
According to a report in Deutsche Welle TV, the man wearing the kippah, Adam from Israel, is actually an Israeli Arab and not a Jew. He put the kippah on as an experiment, after a friend told him it was unsafe for a Jew to wear a kippah in Germany.
The victim told Israeli TV that he and his companion had “walked on the street in a normal way – we had not talked to anyone.” Then three men suddenly started to abuse him. At first they ignored him, but when the abuse continued, his German friend asked the attacker to stop. “Then they got angry, one of them ran to me.”
After the blows, the group finally dispersed with the attacker. One of the two victims wanted to pursue them group, according to police, but was then attacked with a glass bottle, and changed his mind.
“The aggressor rejects the values of our country by physically attacking people who are recognizable as Jews,” said Königsberg. He called for clear action by the judiciary and politicians. “A democratic society can only work if we respect each other, and politicians must ensure that these conditions are met,” said the anti-Semitism commissioner.
Königsberg said he could not recommend to anyone to run around openly wearing a yarmulke, noting that this recent incident shows once again that he is right in this assessment. “I would be glad if I were wrong,” he said.
The attack took place near the large Rykestrasse synagogue.
Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews, sees these recent Muslim anti-Semitic incident, especially in cities, as a “potential threat” for Jews. “Here again a red line has been crossed,” Schuster said regarding the belting incident,” stressing though that “one cannot conclude that there is danger to life and limb for Jews in Germany.”
“It was now important to catch the perpetrator and find out what had influenced his anti-Semitic behavior – and not just to see if he was ‘possibly Muslim or non-Muslim,'” Schuster suggested, emphasizing that “no human being is born anti-Semitic.”
Benjamin Fischer, spokesman for the European Jewish Congress, described a “new intensity of anti-Semitic incidents” in Germany. He told Spiegel that it’s mostly young people who are the victims of such attacks, noting that “at the schoolyards in Berlin where I was traveling, ‘Jude’ was only used as a dirty word.”
Justice Minister Katarina Barley and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, both from the SPD, sharply condemned the incident, with Barley saying the incident was “a shame for our country,” and Maas stating, “We have a responsibility to protect ourselves from attacks on Jewish life.”