Anti-Semitic crime rose 25% in Germany in 2014, possibly spurred by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and increasing xenophobic violence by right-wing extremists.
By: Lauren Calin, World Israel News
Seventy years after the end of the Holocaust, a new report by the German Interior Ministry found that anti-Semitic crime spiked 25.2% in 2014. This trend was possibly spurred by both a rise in anti-Semitic incidents throughout Western Europe in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – in particular, last summer’s Operation Protective Edge – and by a general increase in xenophobic crimes in Germany.
A total of 1,596 anti-Semitic crimes were reported to German police in 2014, a 25.2% increase over 2013. At the same time, crimes against foreigners rose 21.5% to 3,945. Attacks on refugee housing in Germany increased 350% from just 58 in 2013 to 203 in 2014.
“This development is worrying and must be stopped,” said Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière. “Germany is a peaceful and open country. We want to live here in an atmosphere of peace and mutual respect.”
The increasing strength of the far right in Germany may have played a role in the increase in anti-Semitic activity. Politically motivated violent crime rose 18.3% in 2014. Although the number of violent crimes by far-left groups remained stable, politically motivated right-wing violent crime jumped 22.9%.
“The numbers on politically motivated crimes are part of our early-warning system that enables conclusions to be drawn about the motivation of the suspects and show a threatening societal development,” de Maiziere said. “In particular, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and racially motivated crimes and acts of violence have increased.”
Anti-semitic violence has been on the rise throughout Europe. Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry stated in a report published in April that violence against Jews increased 38% in 2014, with 766 incidents, the highest level since 2009, when 1,118 incidents were recorded. The attacks took place primarily in Europe and the United States. “The overall feeling among many Jewish people is one of living in an intensifying anti-Jewish environment that has become not only insulting and threatening, but outright dangerous,” said the report’s authors. There were military conflicts between Israel and Hamas in both 2009 and 2014, which apparently served as a pretext for the violence.
The German government is currently conducting an investigation into anti-Semitism in the country. The commission, which does not have a single Jewish member, is expected to report its findings to the German parliament in the next two years. A similar commission was criticized in 2011 for failing to bring about concrete improvements to the situations of Jews in Germany.