The Berlin city official tasked with combating antisemitism in the German capital on Tuesday repeated earlier official warnings about the potential dangers of wearing visibly Jewish symbols, such as the kippah, in public.
In an extensive interview with the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, Lorenz Korgel — a political scientist who was appointed as Berlin’s antisemitism commissioner in May — stated that it was a “sad reality in Berlin that Jews who confess their faith with symbols experience hostility and attacks in public over and over again.”
But when asked by correspondent Melanie Reinsch whether he personally would “walk through Neukölln” — a Berlin neighborhood with a large Muslim community that has been the location of several antisemitic outrages — “with a kippah,” Korgel declined to give a direct answer.
“I am not Jewish and, as a government official, I am not in a position to give Jews advice on how to deal with their religious symbols,” he replied. “Most of them know their situation very well, better than I do.”
Antisemitism rose sharply in Berlin during 2018, with more than 300 incidents recorded — a 17-percent rise from the previous year. Some local politicians have criticized the city’s police for too-readily assuming that attacks on Jews are the work of far-right thugs, thereby underplaying or ignoring outright the participation of anti-Zionist and Islamist agitators.
Korgel acknowledged this aspect of the problem when he observed that present-day antisemitism fuses established of hostility to Jews in Germany — such as anger and resentment over national guilt for the Nazi Holocaust — with “newer ones.”
Continued Korgel: “These include Islamist or Israel-related antisemitism. But there are also nationalist forms that are shaped by Arab nationalism. This is intensifying. Although these problems have existed for some time, they have not been adequately addressed.”
Korgel added that “in some Arab states antisemitism is part of the state doctrine.” He said that it was “hardly surprising that people also carry antisemitism with them when they come to Europe.”
Korgel said that many Muslim immigrants in Berlin had shown a willingness “to work on these attitudes.”
“That is where our prevention work comes in,” he pointed out.
Asked about the visibility of the city’s Jewish community, Korgel expressed hope that “Jewish culture will become more visible in Berlin as a natural part of our society.”
“We are pleased that Jewish culture is alive, but we must say self-critically that Jewish life is hardly visible in everyday life,” he noted.
Korgel also expressed support for a ban on the annual “Al Quds Day” march in Berlin — a global event sponsored by the Iranian regime that advocates the violent elimination of the State of Israel.
About 1,000 marchers participated in the 2019 “Al Quds” march in Berlin three weeks ago, and were challenged on this occasion by hundreds of counter-protesters carrying Israeli flags.
The Algemeiner (c) 2019 . Ben Cohen