Social media to blame for growing antisemitism, German president says

Addressing a crowd at a historic synagogue, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier affirms Germany's commitment to its Jews, while condemning increasing anti-Jewish sentiment.

June 29, 2017 13:08
1 minute read.
A man wearing a kippah at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.

A man wearing a kippah at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier denounced growing antisemitism in his country on Wednesday, German newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine reported.

Speaking at the 100th anniversary of the Augsburg synagogue, the president noted that while most Germans stand against antisemitism, a growing trend of anti-Jewish hatred is being spread on social media, in part due to some Muslim immigrant groups.

"Social media often propagates the spread of hate messages and antisemitic provocation," he said, noting the trend is growing across Europe.

Despite this, however, Steinmeier noted that, in comparison to France, Germany's Jews are staying put, rather than immigrating to Israel. He affirmed his hope that Germany "can once again be the home of which the Jews were robbed."

Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Reuters)

The president, who visited Israel during his tenure as foreign minister, was joined by German and Israeli notables - including Israeli ambassador Yaacov-David Hadas Handelsmann and Chairman Josef Shuster of the Central Council of Jews in Germany - for the anniversary celebration. Augsburg's synagogue was the only one in Bavaria, a southern German state, to have survived the destruction by the Nazis.

Following the discussion last week of a 300-page report on antisemitism in the Bundestag, the lower house of Germany's parliament, Shuster has called on the government to appoint a commissioner to address widespread antisemitism in the country. The report found that anti-Jewish sentiments were noted at all levels of German society, particularly on social media.

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