German Jewish Community Leader Warns Followers against Wearing Kippahs in Public

A man wearing a kippah listens to speakers during an anti-Semitism demo at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate on September 14, 2014. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, urged the nation’s Jews not to wear the Kippah publicly Tuesday, one week after two individuals wearing the traditional skullcaps were attacked in Berlin by a man spewing anti-Semitic vitriol in Arabic.

“Defiantly showing your colors would in principle be the right way to [tackle anti-Semitism],” Shuster said on Berlin Public Radio. “Nevertheless, I would advise individual people against openly wearing a kippah in big German cities.”

The warning comes ahead of the “Berlin Wears Kippah” solidarity march set to take place in the German capital Wednesday.

Angela Merkel addressed the trend of anti-Semitic attacks perpetrated by Arab refugees over the weekend, announcing that her government had appointed a commissioner to lead its efforts in combating anti-Semitism.

“We have a new phenomenon, as we have many refugees among whom there are, for example, people of Arab origin who bring another form of anti-Semitism into the country,” Merkel told the Channel 10. “The fact that no kindergarten, no school, no synagogue can be left without police protection dismays us.”

The 19-year-old perpetrator of last week’s attack in Berlin is a Syrian refugee living in a shelter for migrants outside the city. He turned himself into police Friday. A video of the incident shows him beating two Jewish men with a belt while yelling “Yahudi,” the Arabic word for “Jew.”

Anti-Semitic attacks have been on the rise in Germany in recent years; the number of individuals affected rose 55 percent in 2017, according to The Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism, a Berlin-based NGO.

Merkel’s detractors point to her liberal immigration policies, which led to roughly 1 million asylum seekers crossing the border in 2015, as the primary factor in the nationwide spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes.

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