Anti-Semitism spike reported in Germany

More than 4,000 incidents were recorded in 2023, up 83% from the previous year, according to a report

The number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded in Germany surged by more than 80% in 2023, notably after the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel and subsequent Gaza war, according to a new report by watchdog RIAS. 

The Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism, known as RIAS, is a Berlin-based NGO with state funding that was established in 2018 following an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents.

The RIAS study, which was published on Tuesday, shows that more than half of the 4,782 recorded anti-Semitic incidents in 2023 were attributable to anti-Israel activism.

According to the report, RIAS offices documented a total of seven cases of extreme violence, 121 assaults, 329 cases of targeted property damage, 183 threats, as well as 4,060 cases of abusive behavior and 82 mass mailings.

The report indicated that in 2023 such events took place more often in public than in the previous year. The number of cases in educational institutions was “strikingly high” compared with 2022.

RIAS cited incidents such as the destruction of Israeli flags hung in solidarity with Israel after October 7, and multiple instances of what was deemed anti-Semitic graffiti.

Jewish life “has become even less possible in Germany as well since October 7,” RIAS director Benjamin Steinitz claimed in a statement on the report.

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The Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Antisemitism, Felix Klein, confirmed that anti-Jewish sentiment was already on the rise before the October 7, in part driven by the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD).

The AfD has been reported to have claimed that Germany, which has a Jewish population of about 225,000, should rewrite history books to focus more on German victims. The party’s members have been accused of using Nazi language.

According to Klein, many anti-Semitic incidents can be traced back to Germany’s growing Muslim community. He urged Muslim associations to speak up more against this.

The CLAIM network of NGOs monitoring Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred reported on Monday that Islamophobic crimes registered in Germany have been also on the rise, more than doubling in 2023. The lobby group said it tallied on average just over five criminal acts motivated by Islamophobia each day in Germany last year.

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