In Germany, the government and Christians try to counter the rise of anti-Semitism

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While European chancelleries have generally called on Israel to pause in its strikes in Gaza, the German government has continued to proclaim that the Jewish state is justified in maintaining its response. Furthermore, Berlin has decided to tackle the problem of anti-Semitism head on, joined by Christians.

Shocked by the pogrom committed in Israel by Hamas terrorists, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz did not limit himself to the emotion that gripped Europe before it demanded a ceasefire during the Israeli response. Berlin has even given priority to Israel in terms of exporting military equipment, and Scholz said he feared, on November 12, thata truce only has the effect of favoring Hamas :

"I freely admit that I do not think that calls for an immediate ceasefire or a long pause - which would amount to almost the same thing - are fair, because that would ultimately mean that Israel is leaving Hamas the possibility of recovering and obtaining new missiles."

On the occasion of his visit to Israel on October 17, Scholz, who is the first head of government to visit the country after the Hamas attacks, recalled Germany's responsibility for the deaths of six million of Jews. Berlin has affirmed since 2008 that the raison d'être of the Federal Republic of Germany is the guarantee of the existence of the State of Israel. While saying that Germany "is not indifferent to the humanitarian situation in Gaza", Scholz insisted that the only place his country must take in the ordeal facing the Jewish state, "it is alongside Israel":

“It is very important to say it today, in these difficult times for Israel: Germany's history and its responsibility in the Holocaust oblige us to contribute to maintaining the security and existence of Israel. "

Political fight against anti-Semitism in Germany

Alongside its principled position on the diplomatic level, Olaf Scholz's government intends to combat the anti-Semitism raging in Germany among Hamas supporters.

At banned protests in Berlin and other European cities, pro-Palestinian activists chanted slogans in Arabic such as "Our lives, our blood, we will sacrifice them for you, Al Aqsa." largest mosque in Jerusalem located on the Esplanade of Mosques which is also a holy place for Jews under the name of the Temple Mount). In Berlin, demonstrators even celebrated the Hamas attacks.

Individuals threw molotov cocktails on a synagogue in Berlin on the night of October 17 to 18, without causing any injuries. Ten days after the Hamas attacks, the federal investigation and information services on anti-Semitism recorded 202 anti-Jewish acts, 90% of which are related to news in Israel. This represents an increase of 240% compared to the same period in 2022. At the beginning of November, the number of recorded anti-Semitic acts rose to more than 2, which led the director of domestic intelligence to even warn against the return of the “darkest hours of national history”.

Worried about this new anti-Semitism, on November 21 the German government called on Muslims on its soil to condemn Hamas crimes. On November 16, the police carried out raids in seven Länder where there are premises of the Islamic Center of Hamburg, a Lebanese pro-Hezbollah organization, and the Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser, intends to expel all supporters of Hamas .

Christians mobilized against anti-Semitism

The fight against anti-Semitism is also carried out through small actions, and the Confederation of Protestant Churches of Lower Saxony, as well as the School Foundation of the Diocese of Osnabrück, have rewarded for the first time six faith-based schools in the north-western state by giving them the ecumenical label “Together against anti-Semitism”.

The schools had to meet several criteria: offer training to their employees on anti-Semitism, establish rules for intervention regarding anti-Semitic incidents, commemorate the Shoah and address the political situation in the Middle East.

For her part, the president of the Protestant Church Council (EKD), Annette Kurschus, denounced the remnants of anti-Semitism within German Protestantism at the annual synod on November 12, seeming to allude to Luther's anti-Judaic legacy:

“[Anti-Semitism] comes from our Christian history, it also germinates among us, among the members of our Church.”

At the beginning of November, around 150 Christians from different churches participated in a human chain and prayed in front of the synagogue in Pforzheim, at the call of the Evangelical Alliance of this town in Baden-Württemberg. Their goal was to express their solidarity with the Jews of the city:

"It is difficult for us to bear that the Jewish community of Pforzheim must once again be afraid to worship, gather to pray or simply be in community. Jews no longer have a safe place in this world. Nor in the State of Israel, nor, once again, in Germany."

The Christians intended to tell local Jews who were afraid to go to the synagogue that they had friends: "You are not alone. We are suffering with you. And as much as we can, we want to be there for you ."

Jean Sarpedon

Image credit: Shutterstock / Maren Winter (Saint-Salvator Church Duisburg, Germany)

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