Josef Schuster, who as the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews is the most prominent leader of the Jewish community in that country, advised his coreligionists to avoid wearing clothing that marks them as Jews. This announcement followed an assault on two young Jewish men in Berlin. In that case, a 19-year-old Syrian migrant is a suspect, thus adding to further concern over the effects that the 1 million+ refugees are having on Germany.
Schuster told broadcaster Radioeins on Tuesday that wearing a skullcap [yarmulke or kippa] is a pertinent sign of Jewish piety, but he advised Jews "against showing themselves openly with a kippa in a big-city setting in Germany, and wear a baseball cap or something else to cover their head instead."
Three years ago, Schuster advised Jews against wearing the distinctive headgear in areas largely populated by Muslims. He has asserted that anti-Semitism has grown along with the influx of migrants, who have largely come from Muslim-dominated countries since 2015.
On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she feels “burdened’’ by her country’s failure to eliminate anti-Semitism. In an interview with Israel’s Channel 10 news, Merkel answered questions about current relations between Israel and Germany.
“I am embarrassed due to the fact that Jewish institutions require security details in 2018,” Merkel said. She connected this with the arrival of refugees and “people of Arab heritage” who, Merkel said, “bring with them a new form of antisemitism into Germany.” She added that “to our regret, anti-Semitism existed in Germany even before [their arrival.].”
Merkel’s decision to allow the entry of hundreds of thousands of migrants in a supposed response to the conflict in Syria has been criticized by her fellow Germans, and has caused frictions with neighboring countries such as Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. In Germany, the PEGIDA movement is seeking to reverse the trend of migration.
According to a report in Germany's Tagesspiegel newspaper, anti-Semitic incidents have been consistently on the rise. Quoting a recent study, Tagesspiegel which noted 1,453 anti-Semitic incidents were perpetrated in 2017, including 32 incidents of physical violence, 160 incidents of vandalism, and 898 incidents of incitement to violence or hate speech directed at Jews. The study attributed the mayority of anti-Semitic incidents to right-wing extremists: 1,377 incidents - 95% - were perpetrated by people holding extreme right-wing views. An additional 33 incidents were carried out by non-Muslim anti-Semitic foreigners. The study showed that 25 anti-Semitic incidents were perpetrated "for religious reasons" by Muslims. Some of these Muslims are migrants, and others were born in Germany. However, in the remaining 17 cases, authorities did not succeed in identifying the motivation behind the anti-Semitic attacks.