Antisemitism spikes in Germany amid far-right historical revision
By Thomas Escritt
BERLIN (Reuters) - Antisemitism has risen in Germany since Hamas's attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, the head of a German anti-discrimination think-tank said, warning that Germans had become too willing to ignore their own past crimes and criticise Israel.
Nikolas Lelle was unveiling his Antonio Amadeu Foundation's latest antisemitism monitor on Tuesday, which found that Germany's far-right were having some success in pushing a new narrative of history that sought to free Germany from the historical burden of being the country that murdered 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, or Shoah.
Sociologist Beate Kuepper said 5.7% of the population showed antisemitic attitudes, three times the level of two years ago. While people with origins in Turkey or Russia were by far the most likely to have antisemitic beliefs, young people accounted for most of that increase, she added.
Germany has seen a wave of protests against Israel's month-long bombardment of Gaza, which began after a raid by Hamas militants on southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,400 Israelis were killed and 240 hostages seized.
Much of Germany's post-war foreign and cultural policy has been focussed on winning back an international respectability that was destroyed by Adolf Hitler's Nazis, in part by seeking close ties with Israel and making gestures of atonement.
"The far-right is making cracks in our memorial culture," Lelle told reporters, adding that progressive historians had also played a role with their argument that Germany could have the same relationship to Israel as other Western countries.
"In these debates, the role of Israel-related antisemitism was diminished," he said. "They said it was fine to criticise Israel from the country of the Shoah."
Attacks since Oct. 7 have included Stars of David being daubed on buildings, bottles filled with flaming petrol being thrown at synagogues and Jewish graves being desecrated.
"It pains me to say this just two days before the anniversary of Kristallnacht," said Felix Klein government commissioner for tackling antisemitism, referring to a 1938 pogrom. "The poison of antisemitism still exists."
Many of the participants in the pro-Palestinian protests saw themselves as progressives, Lelle noted on being asked about the presence of contingents from Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ rights groups.
"In many milieus that see themselves as progressive, anti-Israel positions are almost a matter of good taste," Lelle said.
(Reporting by Thomas Escritt, Editing by Rachel More and Alex Richardson)