BERLIN (JTA) – An exponential rise in anti-Israel crimes in Germany committed by foreigners and immigrants in 2014 points to an urgent need for action, a German politician said.
The government should support Arab and Muslim groups engaged in education against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Green Party parliamentarian Volker Beck said in a statement after the government release of statistics showing a marked increase in both anti-Semitic and anti-Israel crimes last year.
Responding to Beck’s official query, the government reported last week that crimes under the category of “Israel-Palestinian Conflict” increased to 575 in 2014 from 41 in 2013. Of these, 331 were “politically motivated crimes committed by foreigners” and 91 were violent crimes. The previous year, there were no violent crimes registered in this category.
In a statement, Beck noted that while most anti-Semitic crimes can be traced to right wing extremists, last year’s “frightening explosion” of anti-Israel crimes and rise in anti-Semitic crimes after the summer 2014 Gaza conflict were in part traced to perpetrators of Muslim or Arab background.
Policymakers “must not close their eyes to this finding,” Beck said, adding that German Muslim and immigrant associations bear responsibility to tackle this problem, and deserve help from the federal government in doing so.
Deidre Berger, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office, told the Tagesspiegel daily newspaper that statistics don’t even include many incidents, such as “hostility expressed on the streets, schoolyards and sports fields.”
“The threshold for anti-Semitic hate speech and violent attacks is dropping,” she said.
Not all anti-Israel crimes are categorized as anti-Semitic. But in a recent court case in Essen, judges upheld the conviction of an anti-Israel agitator for incitement to hate. The case is considered an important milestone by pro-Israel observers.