German Jewish leader: Don’t wear skullcap in public

Should Jews hide their identity in European cities in order to avoid anti-Semitic attacks? 

By: World Israel News Staff and AP

Germany’s main Jewish leader has called on Jews visiting big cities in the country to refrain from wearing a kippah (Jewish skullcap) following a street assault last week on two young men.

The latest attack in Berlin on an Israeli-Arab who donned a kippah as a social experiment, in which a 19-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker is a suspect, added to growing concern in Germany about anti-Semitism.

Josef Schuster, head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, told broadcaster Radioeins Tuesday that wearing a skullcap is right in principle, but that he was advising individuals “against showing themselves openly with a kippah in a big-city setting in Germany.” He suggested they “wear a baseball cap or something else to cover their head instead.”

Schuster suggested three years ago that Jews should not wear skullcaps in areas with large Muslim populations. He stressed, however, that there is increasing anti-Semitic sentiment among non-migrants.

Schuster’s call sparked fierce debate.

Aviv Zonabend, Deputy Mayor of Toulouse, France, said that Schuster’s call was relevant in all European cities, not only in Germany.

Speaking to IDF Radio on Tuesday, he said that the “future of the Jewish people in Europe is lost.” Toulouse has been the scene of several anti-Jewish attacks, mostly perpetrated by Muslims.

European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin opposed the call, saying that while the situation for Europe’s Jews was “challenging,” removing one’s kippah in public would give anti-Semites a victory and “is also liable to turn those who wear skullcaps into a provocative act and deserving of a response.”

“Not wearing a skullcap due to fear of anti-Semitism is in fact the fulfillment of the vision of anti-Semites in Europe,” he said in a statement.

Margolin called on Schuster to retract his call.

In protest of the recent anti-Semitic attacks in Germany, thousands of Germans on Wednesday will take to the streets of Berlin wearing kippahs. The march is organized by the Jewish community of Berlin.

“This startling attack, which took place in the city that once served as the former seat of the Nazi government, reminds us that anti-Semitism is still alive and well,” the World Jewish Congress (WJC) stated

The WJC also launched an online campaign calling on users to share an image with the words “Ich Bin Jude,” meaning “I am a Jew.”

The WJC called for a stand in solidarity with world Jewry as it works “to stamp out anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it arises.”