Synagogues in Germany hit by over 80 attacks between 2008 and 2012

Israeli experts says there's a strong connection between anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism behind the attacks.

Roonstrasse Synagogue in Cologne 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ina Fassbender )
Roonstrasse Synagogue in Cologne 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ina Fassbender )
The German government announced in a written statement last week that at least 82 attacks took place on synagogues within a five year period.
In response to a parliamentary questionnaire by the German Left Party, the federal government wrote that most of the attacks (24) occurred in Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The state of Rhineland-Palatinate registered 13 attacks, the second largest number of anti-Jewish assaults on synagogues.
In 2010, The Jerusalem Post reported that a synagogue in the city of Worms, in Rhineland- Palatinate state, was attacked by arsonists.
The vandals left a note connecting their torching of the synagogue with the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The regional paper Wiesbadener Kurier reported at the time that German police found eight copies of a note written in “awkward” German, claiming responsibility for the blaze.
“So long as you do not give the Palestinians peace, we are not going to give you peace,” read the note.
According to German media reports, the yearly numbers of synagogue attacks varied between 21 in 2008 to nine in 2010.
The number of cases, which were documented by the Federal criminal agency, covered property damage (roughly 30 instances) and the use of symbols from constitutionally banned organizations (29 cases). An additional 17 cases involved incitement to hate.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, a leading Israeli expert on modern anti-Semitism, told the Post on Sunday, “Israel has been frequently blackened in Europe over many years by leading politicians, media and senior members of civil society. This has helped, bringing out again... the classic anti-Semitism which was latent and politically incorrect after the Second World War yet never disappeared. Laying the connection between the extreme anti-Israelism and classic anti-Semitism is largely taboo in European circles, even though it is obvious.”
He continued, “At the beginning of the past decade, the University of Bielefeld found that 51 percent of Germans agreed with the demonizing statement that Israel behaves toward the Palestinians like the Nazis behaved toward the Jews. In 2011, the same university asked Germans whether they agreed with the statement that Israel conducts a war of extermination against the Palestinians. Forty-seven percent of those polled answered in the affirmative. If so many people have such an unfounded, extreme, wicked opinion about others, all that that indicates is that one self has a criminal mindset. In such a societal climate much worse things can happen than graffiti and other attacks on synagogue buildings.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in August that she felt “very ashamed” that police had to be deployed to protect Jewish organizations and institutions in Germany from damage and attacks.
Shimon Samuels, the director for international relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post from Paris that “the main problem is Germany is doing well in fighting for Holocaust memory but not against anti-Semitism.”
He added that if you decouple Holocaust memory from the victims of today it is worthless. He cited incendiary anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic Arab books at the Frankfurt Book Fair, as well as “Iranian children books extolling the religious obligation to jihad and suicide.”
Meanwhile, Martin Karplus, the Austrian-born Jewish chemist and winner of the Noble Prize in chemistry last week, said there is still anti-Semitism in Austria.
The Austrian news outlet ORF (Austrian Broadcasting) reported that Karplus, the 83-year-old Harvard professor who fled Nazi Austria, commented on a personal experience with anti-Jewish sentiments in Vienna.
While searching for a street named after his uncle – the distinguished neurologist Dr. Johann Palu Karplus – he asked the owner of a small hotel where the street is. Karplus said the woman answered that “she does not understand how one can name a street after a Jew.”
Andreas Mailath-Pokorny, a social democratic politician in Vienna, said Austria suffered an “intellectual vacuum” through the loss of scores of people who fled the Nazis. Mailath-Pokorny added Karplus is an “important part of this intellectual elite” who had to flee Vienna.
He listed some of the important political and intellectual figures who fled Austria, including the late mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kollek and the former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post Ari Rath.
Samuel Laster, a close observer of Austria-Jewish relations and editor-in-chief of the online news outlet The Jewish, told the Post that “Jews in Austria find themselves prisoners between the ‘old’ Jewish hostility in the FPÖ [Freedom Party of Austria known as right-wing extremist and xenophobic] of the populists... and those of left-wing haters of Israel.”
Laster added that the left-wing, anti-Israel activists carry out their activities on the fringe wing of the social democrats.