Germany’s Jews report rise in anti-Semitic violence since Hamas attack

Germany’s leading Jewish group claims one in three communities have experienced hostility since militant group’s assault on Israel on October 7th

Chancellor Olaf Scholz lit the first Hanukkah candle on a giant Menorah at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Thursday, a sign of solidarity with the Jewish community amid claims of a surge in anti-Semitic violence.

According to Germany’s leading Jewish group, one in three communities have experienced hostility since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th last.

“Hanukkah stands for hope and trust... we need both, especially in these days,” said Mr Scholz, wearing a kippah as he became the first German chancellor to attend what has become an annual ceremony on the Jewish holiday since 2008.

Marking the start of Hanukkah at Germany’s most symbolic site, Mr Scholz said, showed “an inseparable belonging of the Jewish faith and citizens to this, to our country”.


Beside him, Berlin Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal said he hoped “these days may go down in history as a further step in the growth of Jewish life in Germany”.

But a growing number of studies suggest otherwise. There were 994 anti-Semitic incidents across Germany in the first month after October 7th, according to one federal study, representing a 320 per cent rise on last year’s daily average. Meanwhile, a new survey by the Central Council of Jews in Germany says one in three communities have experienced insults or outright threats in the last two months. These include graffiti on Jewish buildings, threatening phone calls or emails and even petrol-filled bottles tossed at one Berlin Jewish community centre.

Leaders of 98 of the 105 Jewish communities took part, according to the council, and almost 80 per cent said they felt it had become less safe to live and appear as a Jew in Germany since October 7th.

At the same time, 96 per cent of the communities said they were satisfied with the response of police and other security services who guard their community buildings.

Central Council president Josef Schuster said Germans should “not underestimate” the influence on Germany’s large Turkish community of anti-Israeli statements by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Nor he added, should Germany overlook home-grown anti-Jewish feeling and right-wing extremist threats.

“The threat from the right-wing extremist camp has not disappeared, it’s just that the others have the louder voice right now,” he told Die Zeit weekly.

Dr Schuster pointed to recent surveys suggesting that about 20 per cent of the German population has anti-Jewish prejudices. Though the vast majority of Germans don’t think this way, he said, many of them are “indifferent” to growing Jewish fears.

“They don’t think anything, they don’t say anything, the hatred of us doesn’t affect them,” he added. “This silence is bitter.”

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Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin