Don’t wear kippa in Germany’s Muslim neighborhoods – Jewish leader

Reuters / Thomas Peter
With anti-Semitic hate crimes on the rise in Germany, the leader of the country’s Jewish community says it may be wise for Jews to hide their identity in public.

"Concealing yourself is not the answer… But, the question is whether, in areas with a large proportion of Muslims, in Berlin and elsewhere, it is sensible to be recognized as a Jew by wearing a kippa [traditional Jewish skullcap] or if it isn't better to wear some other form of head covering," Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews, told Berlin’s RBB radio.

“I did not imagine this situation five years ago, and I am admittedly, shocked.”

Bolstered by recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Germany has a relatively small Jewish community of about 105,000. Last year, the authorities recorded 1,076 hate crimes against Jews, up from 790 the year before.

READ MORE: Jewish journalist taunted, spat at in 10hr Paris walk (VIDEO)

As well as physical violence and intimidation, Jewish graves have been desecrated, and swastikas daubed on synagogues.

A survey in September last year showed that nearly one in five German citizens believe that the Jews are at least partly responsible for the persecution.

Anti-Israel demonstrations following the IDF’s operation against Gaza last summer descended into anti-Semitic displays on at least several occasions, with Muslim-dominated crowds chanting “Gas the Jews!” and “Jew, cowardly pig, come on out and fight!" Surveyed in September, one in four Germans said that Hitler’s campaign of extermination of Jews, which led to over 6 million deaths, was no worse than IDF actions in Palestine.

“Muslim organizations do not do enough to distance themselves from anti-Semitism, particularly when they are working with young people,” Schuster said.

There are approximately 5 million Muslims in Germany, and there are more Muslims in Berlin, predominantly of Turkish origin, than Jews in the entire country.

Germany, which rebuilt itself as a beacon of tolerance following World War II, has been struggling with growing ethnic and religious tensions in recent months. Anti-Islamist movement Pegida, whose weekly demonstrations gathered upwards of 20,000 people in Dresden alone at the end of last year, before it was rocked by a series of controversies, has unsettled the establishment.

Last week, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu called for Jews to return to Israel, following a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes not just in Germany, but in France and other European states.