December 12, 2018

German Jews Warned to Avoid Wearing Yarmulkes Following Anti-Semitic Attack

Jews in Germany have been warned to avoid wearing yarmulkes after an anti-Semitic attack occurred on April 18.

A 19-year-old Palestinian from Syria who was seeking asylum in Israel whipped a teenager wearing a kippah with his belt while shouting “Yahudi,” which is Arabic for “Jew.” The victim wasn’t actually Jewish; he was wearing the kippah in an attempt to prove to his friend that Berlin was not as anti-Semitic as people made it out to be.

In response to the incident, Josef Schuster, the Central Council of Jews in Germany, advised the country’s Jews against wearing kippot.

“Defiantly showing your colors would in principle be the right way to go,” Schuster told German public radio. “Nevertheless, I would advise individual people against openly wearing a kippah in big German cities, and wear a baseball cap or something else to cover their head instead.”

Not everyone was happy with Schuster’s recommendation.

“He [Schuster] is mistaken in the cure for this serious problem,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, who heads the European Jewish Association. “To not wear the kippah in fear of anti-Semitism actually fulfills the vision of anti-Semites in Europe.”

Avi Mayer, spokesperson for The Jewish Agency, tweeted that according to the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism (RIAS), “the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin is at its highest point since the organization started collecting data, with several incidents reported every day.”

Earlier in April, The Wall Street Journal reported that there were 1,453 anti-Semitic incident recorded by police in 2017, which was “more than in five of the previous seven years.” The report adds that the number is likely higher than that because most anti-Semitic incidents in Germany aren’t reported.

A couple such incidents highlighted in The Wall Street Journal’s report included a Jewish student being “mobbed by Arab and Polish classmates” and another student being tormented with chants “gas for the Jews!”

The report pointed to the influx of Muslim migrants as a key factor in the alarming return of anti-Semitism in Germany.

“It is wrong to generalize or to stigmatize Muslim communities,” Levi Salomon, who heads the Jewish Forum for Democracy Against Anti-Semitism, told the Wall Street Journal. “But to say there is no specific problem there is even worse. We need to devise urgent strategies to deal with this.”