Rabbi beating sparks fury in Germany

2012-08-30 22:36

Berlin - The brutal daylight beating of a rabbi in front of his 6-year-old daughter sparked furious condemnation in Germany on Thursday, with some Jewish groups saying they feared a rise in anti-Semitic behaviour.

The attack on the 53-year-old by four youths, thought to be Arabs, left him hospitalised and the Jewish community outraged, already up in arms over a court ruling in western Germany that outlaws religious circumcision.

One youth smashed the rabbi in the face several times after asking him if he was Jewish, apparently because he was wearing a traditional head covering, police said.

The assailants fled, but not before aiming death threats at the young girl, according to authorities, who have launched an investigation into the Tuesday attack.

Berlin rabbi Andreas Nachama told AFP that Germany had seen over the past few years "a rising hostility towards Jews due to the conflict in the Middle East".

"Verbal attacks against Jews have increased," said Gideon Joffe, head of the Jewish Community of Berlin, in an interview with local daily Tagesspiegel.

Meanwhile, the rector of the Abraham Geiger College in Berlin, an academic seminary for rabbis, warned his students against wearing the yarmulke, or traditional Jewish head covering.

"If you are no longer seen as a Jewish person, you are safer," Walter Homolka told Friday's edition of the Berliner Morgenpost daily.

Another Berlin-based rabbi, Walter Rothschild, told German radio: "I have been spat on in broad daylight in (the central Berlin square of) Wittenbergplatz and had slogans linked to the Middle East shouted at me".


The attack came amid a fierce row over a ruling by a court in Cologne, western Germany, that circumcision of young boys for religious reasons was tantamount to grievous bodily harm and therefore illegal.

The ruling has prompted fears that religious freedom is being restricted in Germany and has brought Jews and Muslims together in condemning the judgement.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly said the ruling risks making Germany a "laughing stock" and diplomats admit privately it is "disastrous" for the country's image abroad, given its Nazi past.

Other religious leaders also condemned the attack, with Catholic group Pax Christi saying it was an "attack on Jewish life in Germany".

However, the spokesperson for the Jewish forum for democracy and against anti-Semitism, Levi Salomon, sought to downplay the problem, saying: "We are shocked [by the attack] but we do not feel unsafe" in Germany.

Nevertheless, he said the atmosphere in Germany had become more difficult given the circumcision row, as well as a public spat following the publication of a poem by German literary figure Gunter Grass lambasting Israel.

The Jewish community in Germany has undergone a renaissance since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 with a flood of immigrants from the former Soviet bloc.

Often victims of anti-Semitism in their home countries, they were automatically awarded German citizenship.

Since 1989, some 220 000 Jews arrived from the former Soviet Union in Germany, which had only 30 000 Jews before 1989. But before Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, there were 600 000 Jews in Germany.

  • velvybokov - 2012-08-31 01:37

    Nazis don't change their spots.

      andrew.arnesen - 2012-08-31 10:33

      That is dumb - since when are Arabs Nazi's?

  • jf.lambert2 - 2012-08-31 05:08

    If anyone bothers to read the article, it says something that european newpapers wouldn't normally dare writing! those who did this might maybe have a german passport or not but they were either arabics or at least muslims! that is what happens in France and Belgium and Holland and in all those nice countries who are so concerned about the freedom of those who don't care about freedom!

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-31 07:40

    It appears that Jews are only safe behind the wall of separation!

      Mark - 2012-08-31 07:50

      fidel.mgoqi - It appears you have a dislike for Jews because you only seem to ever comment when there is a story involving Israel, Palestinians and Jews. If you want to I could buy you an air ticket to Cuba (fidel) or Palestine so that you stand behind your brothers and be a true warrior instead of a Keyboard Warrior.

      rick.kabose - 2012-08-31 08:15

      The jews are safe in amongst indigenous Europeans. The wall in Israel is to keep the religious islamic suicide bombers out. They should consider building a wall along the Egyptian border as well to keep the illegal africans out too considering the crime spike that came with them.

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-08-31 12:12

      Mgoqi is a fascist just like her bossom buddy Assad.

  • jaba.kov - 2012-08-31 08:16

    To them we are descendants of apes and pigs (Infidels), we are inferior to them and we have humiliated them by standing up fighting back and building a country far beyond any of their own despite all the oil wealth. They are enraged at the reality of all this. They are living impoverished, illiterate and ignorant. Perfect marks for the Mosques to fill them up with the usual scapegoat excuse to explain away their miserable lives. When Islam allows its faithful to question its dogma, only then do these poor people have a chance at a decent life, otherwise all of us are in grave danger of their "Jihad"

  • mfundi.ndaba - 2012-08-31 08:46

    It's amazing how most people that read this article only highlight the part about the guys being Muslim. What about the rest of the article about the growing hostility that Jews feel in Germany in general? Is that hostility brought on by Muslims only? How many Muslims are in Germany? I'm not condoning this act but people must be objective. You guys are dumb!

      rick.kabose - 2012-08-31 08:52

      10% or so of Germany(Caucasian Christians) is not German. Turks and arabs with their religion of hate

      mfundi.ndaba - 2012-08-31 09:01

      So in your mind, it's only Turks and Arabs which display this hatred towards Jews? 90% of Germany are Jew loving(as they always have been even in past times right?) and the 10% are Jew haters. Get your head out of your ass.

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-08-31 12:14

      About 4% in Germany are muslims.

  • pages:
  • 1