Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and Berlin mayor Michael Mueller (top, R-L) use a crane to light the first candle on the giant menorah in front of the Brandenburg gate in Berlin.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN – Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, said he “does not envy any Jew living in Europe today” and invited those who feel unsafe in the wake of recent anti-Semitic attacks to “come to [Israel] at any time.”
In an interview published Sunday in the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel, Hadas-Handelsman echoed last week’s invitation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Jews in Europe “consider Israel your home.”
Germany saw a wave of violent anti-Semitic attacks in 2014, including the torching of the Wuppertal synagogue. A court there, however, agreed with the explanation provided by three German Palestinians that the arson was merely an attempt “to draw attention to the Gaza conflict” and sentenced the men to 200 hours of community service.
Hadas-Handelsman also commended Chancellor Angela Merkel for making it clear that “it is not normal for synagogues and Jewish schools to need police protection.”
Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said he recognized that it is only natural for Israel to encourage aliya, but that he personally saw no special reason for Jews to consider emigrating now, even with the increased risk of attacks by home-grown jihadists.
“Anti-Semitism is a “worldwide phenomenon,” he said, adding that “life in Israel as a Jew is not any more secure.”
Meanwhile, Ilan Kiesling, a spokesman for the 10,000 member Berlin Jewish community, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that the community now must send its monthly magazine in unmarked envelopes to protect members from anti-Semitic attacks.
The rise of Muslim anti-Semitism in Germany prompted Bundestag member Jens Spahn, of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party (CDU), to warn on Saturday of “imported anti-Semitism.”
“Let’s not kid ourselves that immigration from Islamic countries has not changed part of the climate in our country,” he told Der Spiegel
and called on CDU leadership to clearly address the impact of reactionary Islam in Germany.
“When I walk through Berlin with my boyfriend, I have to hear dumb comments because I am gay... and on German streets we hear talk like ‘Jews in the gas’ and they come not only from neo-Nazis. We have also imported anti-Semitism,” Spahn said.
The German-Jewish author and columnist, Henryk M. Broder first coined the term “imported anti-Semitism” to describe the widespread Islamic-animated hatred of Jews and Israel in Germany.
Germany’s Jewish population is estimated at more than 200,000, consisting mostly of former Soviet Jews who have arrived since 1990. Fewer than half are members of Jewish communities, in part because they do not qualify under Jewish law, which requires having a Jewish mother or an Orthodox conversion.JTA contributed to this report.