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German Jewish leader says fear has pushed some Jews from public

In Europe
January 25, 2024

Concerned about attacks and hostility, Jewish people in Germany have been trying to be less conspicuous in public for several months, according to the leader of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

“Attendance at religious services also decreased since October 7,” Josef Schuster said on Thursday, referring to the date that the Palestinian militant group Hamas led brutal, bloody attacks in Israel that included massacring 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

Shortly afterwards, Israel launched a major military operation against the Gaza Strip in which, according to the Hamas-controlled health authority, at least 25,700 Palestinians have been killed so far.

Schuster emphasized that there has been good cooperation with authorities when it comes to security measures for Jewish institutions, but he remains deeply concerned about the threat of Islamist-motivated anti-Semitism.

“The war in Gaza, which followed the barbaric terrorist attack by Hamas, offers Islamist anti-Semites an opportunity for the organized mobilization of social media campaigns and events,” Schuster said.

Felix Klein, Germany’s commissioner for Jewish life, echoed Schuster’s comments. He said that Hebrew-speaking Jews now often avoid speaking the language in public.

“Israel-related anti-Semitism reaches far into the centre of society,” he warned.

Klein also demanded strict rules on arts funding in the country to ensure that “anti-Semitic hatred and anti-Semitism is not practised under the guise of artistic freedom.

“We must not promote anti-Jewish narratives in the arts and culture sector with public funds,” Klein said.

Josef Schuster (L), President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and Felix Klein, Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Anti-Semitism, give a press conference on anti-Semitism in Germany after October 7, 2023 at the Federal Press Conference Center. Kay Nietfeld/dpa

Josef Schuster (L), President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and Felix Klein, Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Anti-Semitism, give a press conference on anti-Semitism in Germany after October 7, 2023 at the Federal Press Conference Center. Kay Nietfeld/dpa

(L-R) Andrea Despot, Chairwoman of the Board of the Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ), Josef Schuster, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and Felix Klein, Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Anti-Semitism, show the poster with the inscription "#WeRemember" after the press conference on anti-Semitism in Germany after October 7, 2023 at the Federal Press Conference building. Kay Nietfeld/dpa

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