Europe

Thousands of Germans Participate in “Kippa Marches” to Show Solidarity with Jews

On Wednesday, Germans of all faiths marched in kippas, the traditional Jewish head covering for men, to show solidarity with the Jewish community after an anti-Semitic incident last week, The Times of Israel reported.

Several German cities held solidarity marches. In Berlin, over 2,000 people (Jews, Christians, Muslims, and atheists) attended the protest while Erfurt had around 150 attendees. Cologne, Magdeburg and Potsdam also held marches.

Germany’s politicians including Berlin Mayor Michael Muller and senior Christian Democratic Union politician Volker Kauder, wore kippas to show their support for the march.

Mueller told the crowd “Today we all wear kippa. Today, Berlin is wearing kippa.”

A non-Jewish Berlin resident, Elard Zuehlke, said that  he attended the march outside one of the city’s synagogues because “it cannot be that in Germany there is any kind of anti-Semitism — not in schools, not in public, not at work, not in politics, nowhere.” He added that Germany had a “special responsibility” to fight anti-Semitism.

“As Jews, we want to be able to move freely, whether with kippa or without,” Reihnard Borgmann, a Jewish man whose mother escaped from the Nazis, but who lost several great-uncles in the Holocaust, said. “We want to be able to practice religion in peace and not be discriminated against and not live in fear. And this event tonight is a sign and an important one.”

“Anti-Semitism has many facets. Unfortunately, it can be found also in the center of society,” Felix Klein, Germany’s newly appointed official in charge of fighting anti-Semitism, told The Times of Israel, though he also cited a recent survey that found that only one out of every five Germans has anti-Semitic views.

“Therefore, you cannot say that it exists only on the fringes,” Klein, who is not Jewish added. “There is a connection between this finding and the number of anti-Semitic hate crimes that are coming from the fringes. They are committed by people on the extreme right, of course, but also increasingly by Muslims.”

There are growing fears of anti-Semitism in Europe. Earlier this week 300 French celebrities and political leaders signed a letter decrying what the called the “new” anti-Semitism. The United Kingdom’s Labour Party is embroiled in a controversy over its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and his record of consorting with anti-Semites and of refusing to take action against anti-Semitism in the party itself.

The latest concern about anti-Semitism in Germany was sparked last week, when an Israeli-Arab put on a kippa as an experiment, believing that it was safe for Jews to go outside with visible signs of their religion. He was attacked by two men who identified him as a Jew. The video of the attack went viral and sparked fears of resurgent anti-Semitism in Germany.

In a recent interview, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of a “new” anti-Semitism and attributed it to “many refugees,” and specifically to “people of Arab origin, who bring another form of anti-Semitism into the country.”

[Photo: Wochit News / YouTube]