BERLIN (JTA) – A firecracker exploded near an Israeli TV journalist reporting in Hebrew in Berlin after she was harassed by several young men.
The incident, which police are investigating as a possible case of anti-Semitism, is the latest of several anti-Semitic, anti-Israel attacks in the German capital in the past year.
Antonia Yamin, 30, was reporting Sunday for the Kan broadcaster in the Neukölln district when four young men walked up to her and blocked the camera.
“They weren’t older than 18 or 19,” Yamin said. She described them as having “migrant background.”
One asked where her “material came from.” A shout was followed by the bang of a firecracker. Images of the incident have been shared widely on social media.
In an interview Monday, Yamin told Vice magazine in Germany that she and her cameraman had been speaking Hebrew, and the name of their TV program was on the microphone in Hebrew letters.
“So it could well be that [the youths] noticed this and that’s why they picked a fight,” she said.
Yamin said she and her cameraman were lucky to come away unscathed.
Yamin, who has been reporting for Kan for a year-and-a-half, told reporters that she seldom visits this and other Berlin districts where she feels “it is not particularly safe to be recognized as an Israeli or Jew.” She recalled another incident in the Prenzlauer Berg district in which a man who identified himself as a Palestinian confronted her after seeing the Hebrew lettering on her microphone.
Shir Gideon, the Israeli Embassy spokesman in Berlin, told the Berlin Tagesspiegel newspaper that he was confident the authorities would bring the perpetrators to justice. He also said it was very “disturbing that it’s obviously problematic to be recognized as an Israeli or Jew in some parts of Berlin.”
Neukolln Mayor Martin Hikel of the Social Democratic Party called the incident “totally unacceptable.”
“It doesn’t matter what triggered their behavior: I condemn every form of anti-Semitism,” he said Monday. “Jews and Israelis should not have to be afraid” to be in this district.
While she said she felt uncomfortable in Neukolln, Yamin said there were also “Israelis who move here and find this part of town cool and hip. The problem is bigger than Berlin-Neukölln.”
She said that when she films in Paris or Malmo, a heavily Muslim part of Sweden, she makes sure that the Hebrew letters on the microphone are not visible and she speaks softer. In Brussels, Yamin said, she avoids the Molenbeek district, which is also heavily Muslim.
On the other hand, she said, her interviews with refugees had shown that “not every Arab has problems with Israelis. Yes, there are incidents like this one, but that doesn’t mean everyone is like that.”