The German government is deliberately misclassifying anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incidents as being of “right wing” origin when in fact they are being committed by recent Muslim “immigrants,” a new report by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) has found.
Quoting Daniel Poensgen, a researcher at the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism, or RIAS, the JTA said that recent outbursts at the annual “Quds Day” march in Berlin, had for example, been classified by the authorities as “forms of far-right anti-Semitism.”
Poensgen told the JTA that the Quds Day march example “and other mislabeled incidents are facilitating attempts to politicize anti-Semitism and complicating the apparently losing battle to solve it.”
“It means we can’t really use the official statistics on anti-Semitism in Germany,” Poensgen said.
During the Quds Day march—an annual even to express support for the Palestinians, with Al-Quds being the Arabic name for Jerusalem—participants allegedly made “frequent calls about killing Israelis, Zionist conspiracies and chants of ‘free Palestine from the river to the sea,’” the JTA article continued, adding that “Hamas and Hezbollah” flags are also on display, and that “imams regularly preach anti-Semitic verses from the Quran to the crowd in Farsi and Arabic.”
“Under the guise of ‘Israel criticism,’ they use classic anti-Semitic stereotypes, identifying Israel as having ‘Jewish characteristics’: ‘domineering,’ ‘greedy’ or a ‘child killer,’” sociologist Imke Kummer told the JTA.
“Doubts about the ministry’s methodology have become more pronounced as its data have increasingly diverged with information from across Western Europe — and from the perceptions of German Jews themselves,” the JTA said.
Last month, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that supporters of far-right groups were responsible for about 90 percent of the 1,800 recorded anti-Semitic incidents recorded in Germany in 2018, a 20 percent increase over the previous year.
In France, by contrast, more than half of anti-Semitism incidents, and virtually all the violent ones, are perpetrated by immigrants from Muslim countries or their descendants, according to the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism.
In Britain, the Community Security Trust suggests that far-right perpetrators are responsible for 50—60 percent of the incidents where victims offered a physical description of their attackers. This happened in about 30 percent of 1,652 cases in 2018, a 19 percent hike from the previous year.
In the Netherlands, the previous director of CIDI, the country’s foremost watchdog on anti-Semitism, said that Muslims and Arabs are responsible for about 70 percent of all cases recorded in any given year.
In a 2016 survey of hundreds of German Jews who had experienced anti-Semitic incidents, 41 percent said the perpetrator was “someone with a Muslim extremist view” and another 16 percent said it was someone from the far left. Only 20 percent identified their aggressors as belonging to the far-right.
“There is clearly a mismatch here, and it speaks to the inaccuracy of the German official statistics,” the RIAS researcher Poensgen said.
Poensgen said his watchdog organization has talked to officials about the statistics problem. “There was interest in our criticism, it was listened to and studied, but till now [there’s] severe reluctance on the federal level to change their category system,” Poensgen said.
To some critics, there is a political dimension to the apparent reluctance of German authorities to blame anti-Semitism on Muslim immigrants. Surveys suggest that group is considerably more anti-Semitic than non-immigrants, or at least more open about it.
But “the new Muslim anti-Semitism is taboo, as addressing it would only strengthen opponents of immigration,” Krisztina Koenen, a journalist for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and der Welt, wrote in an analysis she published in March in the Hungarian-Jewish magazine Neokohn.
The government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel has faced considerable criticism, including that she is importing anti-Semitism, over her decision to let in more than 2 million immigrants from Syria and the Middle East since 2015.
Last year, a German federal entity went to some pains to refute the claim about importing anti-Semitism. The study by the Berlin-based EVZ foundation claims that there is no connection between anti-Semitism and immigration, despite claims by some Jews to the contrary.
The conclusion prompted scathing criticism by Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of international affairs for the American Jewish Committee and the point man on anti-Semitism of the OSCE intergovernmental organization. He said the report’s authors “ignore the data, dismiss the problem, and blame the victims.”