The Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Antisemitism, Felix Klein, sees combating antisemitism as a permanent task.
In times of crisis, however, people are particularly susceptible to supposedly simple answers such as those offered by antisemitism, Klein said during a meeting of the Human Rights Committee.
“Whether it is the Ukraine war, the energy crisis, inflation or the Corona pandemic – crises provide a breeding ground for such ideas. Conspiracy narratives, Holocaust trivialisation and criticism of Israel have long since spread not only on the political fringe, but have reached into the middle of society and can also be found in intellectual, academic milieus. This threatens democracy in Germany as a whole”
The number of hate postings on the internet, for example, had recently risen massively in Germany, and the number of criminal offences had reached a peak of more than 3,000 in 2021, said the antisemitism commissioner, referring to statistics from the Federal Criminal Police Office.
The first National Strategy against Antisemitism, which the Federal Government adopted in November 2022, should therefore contribute to countering antisemitism at all political and social levels, Klein explained.
For the first time, it deliberately addresses everyone, defines five fields of action and three cross-cutting dimensions. Klein emphasised the importance of countering hatred on the internet in the form of digital offerings. He also called for the fight against antisemitism to be placed even higher on the European agenda.
The fact that there are efforts in EU member states such as Finland to ban circumcision and slaughter is worrying, as it threatens the basic conditions for Jewish life, said Klein.
But there is also a need for action in Germany to protect Jewish life – for example, in the legislation on public holidays. This follows the Christian understanding of holidays and does not pay enough attention to Jewish religious practice – for example, when academic exams take place on the Sabbath, the day of rest.
In the subsequent discussion with the antisemitism commissioner, MPs from the SPD and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen addressed, among other things, the spread of antisemitism also in left-wing milieus, such as in the climate protection movement, and asked about strategies against the spread of conspiracy narratives.
The AfD asked about the sensitisation of cultural managers to antisemitic stereotypes, representatives of the FDP parliamentary group about approaches to promote the visibility of Jewish life in Germany, while the CDU/CSU asked about the networking of antisemitism officers at federal and state level. A member of the Left parliamentary group addressed the difficulty of combating antisemitism in view of the increasing lack of contemporary witnesses from the Nazi era.