(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jewish communities in Germany and Switzerland are facing a growing number of threats and anti-Semitic incitement since the outbreak of the IDF operation in Gaza.
The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Charlotte Knobloch, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday in an exclusive interview that there had been an increased number of threats directed at the community.
Knobloch linked the current round of anti-Jewish sentiments in Germany to the Hamas conflict, comparing the situation to the fierce hostility among many Germans toward Jews during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. She pinned the blame on the German media, which has "not paid attention to rocket fire" of Hamas on Sderot and Ashkelon.
Knobloch said three of her grandchildren were living in Israel, and added that her 18-year-old grandson had just been called to active duty.
The mushrooming sense of insecurity among European Jews prompted Dr. Shimon Samuels, the head of the Paris-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, to issue letters on Wednesday to the interior ministers of a number of European countries.
A copy of the letter to German Interior Minister Wolfgang SchÃ¤uble, which the Post obtained, states that the center "is gravely concerned at the increasingly threatening situation for Jewish communities," and "the banners and invective of demonstrators are degenerating to calls for violence against German Jewish citizens."
Samuels wrote that "such incitement 'to murder Jewish children worldwide' from Hamas senior officials" must be condemned by German Muslim leaders. Samuels called on the Interior Ministry to redouble its efforts to provide security for Jews.
In response, an Interior Ministry spokesman told the Post there were "no indications" of a need for a reinforced level of security or "planned attacks" against Jewish institutions. Heike Nagora, a spokeswoman for the Berlin police department, told the Post that 28 demonstrators had been arrested at three of the large pro-Hamas protests in Berlin, and that offenses included displaying swastikas.
Levi Salomon, who heads a task force combating anti-Semitism for the 12,000-member Berlin Jewish community, reported seeing slogans such as "death to Israel" and "kick out the Jews."
Meanwhile, Jonathan Kreutner, general secretary of the 18,000-member Swiss Jewish community, reported an increase in anti-Jewish letters and e-mails, some of which "are very anti-Semitic."
Kreutner told the Post that one letter threatened a "bloody underground struggle" against all "active Zionists in Switzerland." Many e-mails denigrated Jews for "failing to learn from Holocaust," Kreutner said.
Leading Swiss politician Geri MÃ¼ller, a member of the Green Party who serves as head of the foreign policy committee in parliament, has aligned himself with Hamas and spoken at two pro-Palestinian demonstrations where Israel was equated with Nazi Germany.
MÃ¼ller told the Post that he had not condemned Hamas for its rocket attacks on Israel, asserting that no Israelis had been injured during the six-month cease-fire period. When asked if his partisan behavior violated his role as chairman of the foreign affairs committee, MÃ¼ller told the Post that he had appeared as a member of parliament.
However, MÃ¼ller's "participation in the demonstrations is clearly unacceptable," argued Herbert Winter, president of the Swiss Federation of Jewish communities. Winter told the Post that MÃ¼ller's conduct "does not meet the standards of the foreign policy committee of the National Council."
The president of the Swiss-Israeli friendship society, Vreni MÃ¼ller-Hemmi, slammed MÃ¼ller for his pro-Hamas positions and told the Post that "the aggression of Hamas is not discussed or noticed" in Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Guy Feldman, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Vienna, told the Post that the embassy was receiving 10 calls a day, most of which were anti-Israel.