Germany’s best-selling newspaper Bild printed an extraordinary front-page commentary on Monday declaring that: “The kippah belongs to Germany,” with a cut out of a kippah that can be worn as a sign of solidarity against rising antisemitism in Germany.
The commentary by the paper’s editor-in-chief, Julian Reichelt – and the cut-out kippah with three Stars of David – comes in response to a warning from the country’s commissioner on combating antisemitism about not wearing kippot in public spaces.
On Saturday, Felix Klein, the federal government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Antisemitism, told the Funk media group: “My opinion on the matter has changed following the ongoing brutalization in German society. I can no longer recommend Jews wear a kippah at every time and place in Germany.”
The US government’s most high-profile ambassador in Europe, Richard Grenell, reacted to Klein’s comments saying Jews in Germany should not conceal their religious identity, and urged them to wear kippot.
“The opposite is true,” tweeted Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany. “Wear your kippah. Wear your friend’s kippah. Borrow a kippah and wear it for our Jewish neighbors. Educate people that we are a diverse society.”
President Reuven Rivlin also reacted on Sunday, saying: “The statement of the German government’s antisemitism commissioner – that it would be preferable for Jews not to wear a kippah in Germany out of fear for their safety – shocked me deeply. Responsibility for the welfare, the freedom and the right to religious belief of every member of the German Jewish community, is in the hands of the German government and its law enforcement agencies. We acknowledge and appreciate the moral position of the German government, and its commitment to the Jewish community that lives there. But fears about the security of German Jews are a capitulation to antisemitism and an admittance that, again, Jews are not safe on German soil.
“We will never submit, will never lower our gaze, and will never react to antisemitism with defeatism – and we expect and demand our allies act in the same way.”
Reichelt wrote in Monday’s paper: “Bild
printed a kippah to cut out” because “it should not be allowed” that Jews in Germany have to hide after the Holocaust in order to be safe. “Our society has failed” if Jews in Germany cannot wear kippot.
The editor-in-chief, widely considered a strong supporter of Jewish life in Germany and the State of Israel, wrote, “We should be forever thankful in Germany that Jewish life is again blossoming.”
He noted that when it comes to Jewish life in Germany, “We must decisively defend what is a historical wonder and gift for our country.”
Reichelt appealed to the paper’s readers to put together and wear the kippah, “so your friends and neighbors can see it. Explain to your children what the kippah is, and post pictures on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.”
Reichelt urged readers to “Go on the street wearing the kippah.”
On page three of the mass circulation paper, there are instructions on how to assemble the kippah from the cut out.
He concluded his commentary with the sentence: “The kippah belongs to Germany.”
The conclusion can be read as a response to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s May 2018 statement that “Islam belongs to Germany.”
devotes considerable space to exposing antisemitism in Germany and reporting the security interests of Israel. The paper is one of the few media outlets in the country that does not engage in one-sided or biased reporting of the Jewish state.
The German Jewish community is comprised of just under 100,000 members.
The remarks by Grenell – who has gone to great lengths to combat antisemitism in Germany and at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva – follow Chief Rabbi David Lau’s plea in April 2018 that Jews should “keep wearing it [the kippah] proudly.”
Lau said in response to the head of Germany’s central council of Jews, Dr. Josef Schuster – who urged Jews to take off their kippot when visiting large cities – that “Jews should not be demanded to remove their skullcaps from their heads. But Germany’s law enforcement authorities should be appealed to in order to ensure the safety of Jews in Germany.”
Julie Lenarz, a London-based expert on antisemitism, wrote in response to Klein’s announcement: “This policy punishes victims and rewards perpetrators. Instead, Germany should issue an unequivocal warning to those who threaten Jewish life – far Right, far Left, or Islamist.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post
by email: “Unacceptable, Germany! Jews should never be relegated to second-class citizens. Stand with your Jewish neighbors, punish antisemitism from the extreme far Right, far Left and Islamist.”
Solomon Bali, a prominent Bulgarian Jew, tweeted in response to Klein’s announcement: “total capitulation of democracy.”
In April, the Post
reported on a Die Welt
(The World) article titled: “Why young Jews are leaving Germany.”
According to the article, 50 young German Jews left Germany in 2018 to enroll in the Israeli government-sponsored Naale program. Young Diaspora Jews can apply to be accepted into a high school program organized by the Naale scholarship program, with a view toward aliyah.
15-year-old Golda Maertens, who has been accepted to Naale, told Welt
reporter Philip Kuhn: “I also think that there is no future for Jews” in Germany.
In September, Golda will start school at the Mosenson boarding school outside of Tel Aviv.