Dialogue and education to combat discrimination
The first Jews appeared in Berlin in about 1295. But their number was very small, and only few centuries later the first synagogue in the city was opened. Jewish community in the city increased fast and reached about 170 000 people in 1920. But as the result of the Nazi regime and Holocaust there are nowadays approximately 10 500 Jews in Berlin. The similar situation is in the Germany as a whole.
Even though the Jewish community in Germany is very little, despite the fact of denazification, anti-Semitism is still very strong in Germany, says Rabbi Daniel Alter, coordinator of SchazMaz-Program of the General Rabbis’ Conference, Representative for inter-religious dialogue and combating anti-Semitism, Krynica.info informs.
According to him, the research, prepared in 2012 for the German parliament, showed that 25% representatives of core German society are latent anti-Semitic. 5% more are “honest anti-Semitic”, Rabbi says. These figures might be doubled among the Muslim immigrants, he thinks.
Daniel Alter stresses that almost all the Jews in Germany face anti-Semitism. For example, his own daughter was seriously threatened with physical and sexual violence by the Arabic youngsters just because of her nationality.
In Germany “honest” anti-Semitism is typical for three main groups: far-right neo-Nazis, far-left activists, who criticize Israel, and Muslims. “In Europe we can find the routes of anti-Semitism in the Middle Ages, when the Jews were seriously restricted”, Rabbi Alter says.
Meanwhile he disagrees with the point of view that Islamic anti-Semitism is a result of Israeli policy. “Islamic hatred to the Jews is much older than the State of Israel. The words against the Jews we can find in Qur’an”, he underlines.
To combat discrimination, the Jewish community tries to focus on dialogue and education. For example, when in any school there are some anti-Semitic problems, caused by the Muslim youth, Rabbi and Imam go there together and talk with the students about discrimination. After that the students visit synagogue and mosque. “And it helps. Everywhere we were, the situation has changed”, Rabbi Alter says.
There are also so called heroes – young people of Turkish or Arabic origin, who share democratic values. After special education they come to the Islamic communities and try to persuade the others to respect other religions and nationalities. For teachers there are some educational programs how to deal with anti-Semitism in schools.
But still the problem of anti-Semitism exists. Synagogues and Jewish centers are guarded with the police and to visit them you should pass strict control. And there is a real need in such measures of safety. The last serious anti-Semitic acts took place in Germany last year, when some people attacked synagogues, trying to punish the Jews for the policy of Israel.
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