A victim of an anti-Semitic attack in Germany said he’s an Arab-Israeli, who wore a skullcap as an “experiment” to prove wrong a friend who said that wearing Jewish religious symbols in public was unsafe in Germany.
The Times of Israel reported that, in a twist to the story, the Israeli victim later told German media that he had grown up in an Arab family in Israel and was not himself Jewish. A friend from Israel had given him the skullcap a few days before the attack.
“I’m not Jewish, I’m an Israeli, I grew up in Israel in an Arab family,” Adam Armush said. “It was an experience for me to wear the skullcap and go out into the street,” he added, saying he refused to believe a friend that it was dangerous to dress as a Jew in Germany.
Armush and his friend were harassed in the Prenzlauer Berg area on Monday while wearing skullcaps. A video of the incident, which was later shared on social media, shows the attacker hitting the men with his belt, while shouting “Yehudi!” or Jew, in Arabic.
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“I’m surprised something like this happened to me. I’m still in shock,” Armush told Israel’s Kan television channel. “It happened right here, next to my home, when I was on my way to the train station with my friend.”
“One of them ran at me,” Armush explained. “I immediately felt it was important to film because I didn’t think we could catch him before police arrived.”
Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise across Germany. Several Jewish students have reported anti-Semitic harassment in schools in recent months and Israeli flags were burnt during a recent protest in Berlin.
A 19-year-old Syrian asylum seeker of Palestinian heritage turned himself in to police on Thursday. Police said the suspect had already been identified from the footage.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the attack. “The fight against such anti-Semitic acts must be won, the reputation of our state is at stake, and we are committed to it with all our strength.” She created a new position of commissioner to fight anti-Semitism under her new coalition government sworn in last month.
Justice Minister Katarina Barley said the incident was a “disgrace” for German democracy, adding that “It is unbearable that Jews in Germany are attacked on the open street in the middle of Berlin.”
The country’s Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, observed that Germany “bears a responsibility to protect Jewish life” more than 70 years after the end of the Holocaust.
[Photo: World Jewish Congress / YouTube ]