Anti-Semitic crimes reported in Germany and France are on the rise, according to the latest reports.
In Germany, government statistics released on February 13 show there were 1,646 incidents recorded nationwide, compared to 1,504 in 2017. Some 43 people were injured, though none fatally, in 62 acts of violence. At least 282 were instances of hate propaganda. With 37 acts of violence recorded in 2017, this constitutes an increase of around 60% in 12 months.
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the numbers were released by the government’s office of criminal statistics, following a request from the opposition Left party in the Bundestag.
“The latest numbers are not yet official, but again show a tendency – and that is alarming,” said Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, adding that it offered tangible proof of Jewish people’s subjective impressions.
According to a survey done by the EU, 41% of Jews in Germany who have been the victims of anti-Semitic attacks said the perpetrators were of a Muslim background, and 20% were right-wing extremists.
Felix Klein, who leads Germany’s government anti-Semitism office, told DW he was “worried, but not really surprised. It corresponds to what I have learned in conversation with Jewish groups and representatives.”
“Unfortunately, anti-Semitism is rising all over Europe,” a problem that Germany will make its major priority when it takes over the EU Presidency next year, Klein added.
In a separate report, FRANCE 24 online noted that attacks against Jews rose by 74% last year. This is an alarming trend, which experts link to the spread of hate speech and the tension surrounding Yellow Vest protests.
On February 13, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the “unacceptable increase” in anti-Semitic acts and hate speech, which he linked to the latest wave of demonstrations against his government.
“Anti-Semitism is a repudiation of the Republic, in the same way that attacking elected officials or institutions is a repudiation of the Republic,” the French president told cabinet members.
According to FRANCE 24, Yellow Vest demonstrators, who have staged often violent protests on consecutive weekends since late November, have been criticised for multiple racist and anti-Semitic incidents reported during their weekly rallies. Prominent Yellow Vests have also come under scrutiny for their links with far-right groups and conspiracy theorists.
Earlier this week, Paris municipal workers in the suburb of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois found a tree planted in memory of the late young Jewish Ilam Halimi chopped down and a second one partly sawn.
Halimi was kidnapped and tortured for three weeks in 2006 by gang members demanding huge sums of money from his family, assuming he was rich because he was Jewish. He died on his way to hospital.
The total of registered anti-Semitic acts and threats rose to 541 in 2018 from 311, a surge of 74 percent after two years of decrease, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced on February 11.
“Anti-Semitism is spreading like a poison, like a venom,” Castaner said while attending a ceremony at the memorial of Ilam Halimi.
French female rabbi Delphine Horvilleur told FRANCE 24 that these “horrifying numbers” are a “warning sign” of “a society in a state of breech and failure”.
“If a society is seen as stable, fair and democratic, its members would never attack an MP or destroy everything during demonstrations,” added Pierre Tartakowsky, honorary president of the French Human Rights League (LDH). He also said that the growing tension on all sides of the political spectrum “favours a radicalisation of acts, in a phenomenon of rising irritation”.