The Research and Information Office on Anti-Semitism in Berlin (RIAS), which records incidents of hatred against Jews, has counted 527 anti-Semitic incidents in Germany’s capital from January to June, 2018, up from 514 incidents in the first six months of 2017. A new plan launched by the Berlin municipality is looking to reverse the growth this phenomenon by educating young people, Deutsche Welle reported Wednesday.
The Berlin plan’s focus on education and youth does not merely target groups which are likely to engage in anti-Semitic activity, but those who are most open-minded and ready to change their preconceptions.
“Younger people can be more easily influenced,” says Berlin Senator for Justice and Anti-Discrimination Dirk Behrendt. “Hopefully we can steer them more easily in the right direction than someone who’s 40 and has a closed, anti-Semitic view of the world.”
The plan also focuses on justice and security, culture, research, victim protection, and prevention. Berlin wants to appoint its own special commissioner for anti-Semitism, parallel to Felix Klein, head of the federal government’s anti-Semitism unit.
Other than creating the commissioner’s office and providing additional training for police and teachers, the plan doesn’t offer much that is new. That, however, is intentional.
Jewish groups in Berlin welcome these efforts to tackle Jew hatred.
“We welcome the fact that a well-rounded ‘learning concept’ has been passed with the plan ‘Berlin Against All Forms of Anti-Semitism,'” said Lara Süsskind, chairwoman of the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism. “As it progresses, a consciousness should be developed that anti-Semitism is not just a problem for Jews but an attack on democratic society.”
Surveys cited by Deutsche Welle show that Germans are more acutely aware of the dangers of anti-Semitism than other European nationalities. 43% of EU citizens believe anti-Semitism is not a problem, compared with only 29% of Germans, while 66% of Germans believe it is a problem, compared with 50% of the rest of Europe.