Germany reverses course on wearing kippas after outcry

Top anti-Semitism czar calls on “all citizens” to wear the skullcap in solidarity with Jewish community.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Germany’s anti-Semitism commissioner changed his stance Monday on the wearing of skullcaps in public after an outcry by Jewish and non-Jewish public officials against his earlier statement that he didn’t recommend that Jews do so everywhere in Germany as it wasn’t safe.

Felix Klein’s about-face came soon after government spokesman Steffen Seibert held a press conference in which he said, “The state must see to it that the free exercise of religion is possible for all… and that anyone can go anywhere in our country in full security wearing a kippa.”

The statement sets a challenge for Germany’s police force, as the annual Al-Quds (Jerusalem) rally is taking place in Berlin on Saturday. The anti-Israel hatefest was attended by a higher-than-usual 1,600 people last year calling for Israel’s demise.

The Jewish community is planning a counter-demonstration. They should bring their skullcaps, Klein said.

“I call on all citizens of Berlin and across Germany to wear the kippa next Saturday if there are new, intolerable attacks targeting Israel and Jews on the occasion of al-Quds day in Berlin,” he said.

Leading German newspaper Bild published a cut-out skullcap on its front page on Monday, urging citizens to wear it in solidarity with the Jewish community. It was the popular daily’s reaction to Klein’s original warning last week in which he said that he “cannot recommend” that Jews wear the identifying headgear “at all times” and in all places in the country.

The paper’s editor-in-chief, Julian Reichelt, wrote that if Jews couldn’t wear a skullcap, “we have failed in the face of our history.”

“If even one person in our country cannot wear the kippa without putting themselves in danger, then the only answer must be that we all wear the kippa,” he added. “The kippa belongs to Germany!”

There has been a noticeable rise in anti-Semitic offenses in Germany, with violent attacks up over 60 percent in 2018 according to the country’s police statistics. More than 1,600 anti-Jewish incidents were recorded, with 62 physical attacks leaving 43 people injured.

In an interview Monday on CNN, German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted that her government has not been able to fully cope with the problem.

“We have always had a certain number of anti-Semites amongst us,” she said. “Unfortunately, today there is not a single synagogue, not a single day care center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen.”

Her solution is educating Germany’s youth on the supreme values of human rights, democracy, sensitivity and tolerance.