Posted on October 20, 2023

Antisemitism Among Muslim Migrants Unsettles a Germany Haunted by the Holocaust

Bojan Pancevski, Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2023

Since World War II and the Nazis’ defeat, one motto has towered over German politics: “Never again” should Jews here have to fear for their lives.

Now anti-Jewish sentiment is surging in the country’s large and growing Muslim community, much expanded by the country’s openness to asylum seekers from a war-ravaged Middle East.

Since Palestinian militant group Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault on Israel—which included a series of terror attacks on a dance party and farming communities and left more than 1,400 people dead—Jews in Germany have faced violence on German streets and authorities say antisemitic crimes have surged.

Hours after the attacks in Israel, Muslims in one Berlin neighborhood were handing out candy as they reveled in the results of the attack. A smiling Muslim woman in Hamburg told a regional broadcaster that her family celebrated the events at home.


Standing with Israel and welcoming Jewish life are key parts of the country’s collective atonement for the Holocaust. That sense of responsibility has driven Germany to keep its door open to millions of refugees from the Middle East and other Muslim-majority areas for nearly a decade.

In a rare move, German authorities have banned public demonstrations in support of Hamas and most other pro-Palestinian rallies. Prosecutors said they would prosecute people who have praised Hamas in conversations with journalists.


Berlin has prohibited the wearing of the black-and-white Palestinian scarf on school grounds and any chant of “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”—a call to establish a Palestinian state on all of Israel’s current territory.

{snip} As of next year, foreign antisemitic offenders will be barred from obtaining German citizenship.


Its Muslim population has also changed. Adding to a relatively secular Turkish community of around four million that began arriving in the 1960s, some two million have joined in the past decade. Some newcomers from countries where Holocaust denial and Israel-related antisemitism are widespread have brought more radical views.

At a recent rally in Berlin where riot police confiscated Palestinian flags and arrested protesters, the crowd included Arabs as well as Europeans and Americans who said they see Israel as a colonial power.

The tension that exploded this week had been rising for some time. Last year saw a surge in violence directed toward Jews: Two Jewish communities were firebombed and a rabbi’s house was peppered with bullets amid other incidents involving physical attacks on Jews.

Some municipalities with large migrant communities have for years warned Jews to cover yarmulkes and Stars of David in public.

“Hatred of Jews has become mainstream among youths and young adults in some Arab communities,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews, the largest Jewish association in Germany, wrote in a column entitled “The Barbarians are among us.”

The anti-Israel protests and a spike in online hate speech last week persuaded some Jewish families to keep their children away from schools and kindergartens for fear of violent incidents.


{snip} Nearly two-thirds of Muslims in Germany hold antisemitic views, according to a 2022 AJC study.

Some 300,000 rejected asylum seekers, including Islamist radicals, are now awaiting deportation in Germany. One of them, a 26-year-old Palestinian from Syria with a criminal record, was arrested on Tuesday for praising Hamas. He was released pending an investigation.