Germany: Coronavirus protests increasing anti-Semitism

Of note:

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has warned of increased anti-Semitism due to the protests against coronavirus measures.

“For months, conspiracy theories with anti-Semitic tendencies have been deliberately stirred up in the coronavirus debate,” Council President Josef Schuster told German daily newspaper Bild.

“If, for example, the Rothschilds are blamed for the pandemic, then this is a synonym for Jews,” said Shuster.

He added that not everyone who protested in Berlin in August was anti-Semitic or racist, “but they walked among them.”

Two recent protests have drawn tens of thousands from across the country to Berlin. The demonstrations were mainly peaceful, but at one point, hundreds of demonstrators broke through a blockade in an attempt to storm the Reichstag building.

Police also see uptick

The police trade union, the GdP, said it has also seen a rise in radicalization of protesters against coronavirus protective measures.

“Since the first demonstrations, right-wing groups have influenced the corona protest movement,” GdP vice-chairman Jörg Radek told newspapers of the Funke Media Group. “The right-wingers are there and are about to completely take over the movement.”

Some protesters have used signs and flags associated with far-right politics, from the Reichskriegsflagge (Imperial War Flag) to costumes comparing themselves to Holocaust victims.

“Nobody can say they are just a follower now. Anyone who stays with the movement must ask themselves whether they want to join forces with right-wing extremists and combine personal concerns in the coronavirus crisis with the extremists’ anti-democratic goals,” said Radek.

Source: Germany: Coronavirus protests increasing anti-Semitism

Saunders: How was a neo-Nazi threat ignored for years? Because it looked so familiar


For Berlin actor Idil Nuna Baydar, the past year has been a sequence of escalating shocks, at first private and horrific, which in recent weeks have been shared with millions of other Germans.

The first shock came last year, when she received a series of detailed death threats via private contact information known only to family members. The first was signed “SS Ostubaf,” a Nazi-era paramilitary rank. Other threats were signed “NSU 2.0,” a reference to the National Socialist Underground, a far-right terrorist cell that murdered at least 10 people across Germany between 2000 and 2011.

The threats became more specific, containing information (such as the name of Ms. Baydar’s mother) that was not known to the public. Dozens of other Germans, including lawyers and politicians, received threats from the same source, typically saying they would be killed because of their ethnicity or support for immigration. Ms. Baydar filed a police complaint; the investigation was dropped, without charges, at the end of 2019.

The second shock came when she learned this year that the threats had come from within the police. Her personal information had been obtained from an unauthorized query made on a computer database within a police station in Hesse, the western German state that includes Frankfurt. A newspaper later confirmed that the queries had been made by police officials.

Newspapers, and then public investigators, gradually found out that the “NSU 2.0” group is linked to a national chat network in which members exchanged messages of racial intolerance, extreme-right and neo-Nazi allegiance and sometimes threats of violence. Members of the group allegedly include active German police and military officials.

Some members of the group are allegedly also members of other known extremist groups, including one calling itself the Ku Klux Klan, the outlawed neo-Nazi group Combat 18, and a “prepper” group known as Northern Cross, which believes that there will soon be a complete societal breakdown, perhaps triggered by the group’s actions, and plans to implement something resembling the Third Reich in its aftermath.

Police and government officials until recently played down the incidents and organizational affiliations, claiming that no known far-right networks existed within the police and military.

Over the spring, this argument began to fall apart as investigations revealed just how extensive, and deeply infiltrated into German state institutions, these networks are. On June 14, the Hesse chief of police, Udo Munch, resigned over this.

The final shock for Ms. Baydar came during the past few weeks, when she, along with the rest of Germany, learned that these extremist networks were not just exchanging bigoted memes and making idle threats.

On July 1, German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced she would disband one of the companies of Germany’s most elite special-forces unit, the KSK, and forbid the entire unit from participating in any military operations, because it had become so infested with active neo-Nazis.

The military counterintelligence service revealed that at least 600 soldiers are being investigated for extreme-right activities, and that the chat network that united extremist groups had been set up within the KSK.

It emerged that 62 kilograms of explosives and 48,000 rounds of ammunition had disappeared from the KSK, allegedly taken by extreme-right groups. Other military officers were found to be storing huge caches of weapons and ammunition along with Hitler memorabilia.

The “prepper” group Northern Cross, previously seen as extreme but nutty, was said to have amassed tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, built fortresses and training camps, and had drawn up lists of “enemies” to be executed on “Day X,” or the day of Germany’s societal breakdown; last week it emerged that they had purchased body bags and quicklime for this task.

Germans are now asking the question that has long alarmed Ms. Baydar and other targets: How, in a country where even the slightest hint of Nazi-era racial politics is highly illegal and unconstitutional, were they permitted to thrive for so long, when they did very little to conceal themselves?

It seems that it’s because their language and messages had become so commonplace and mainstream. The notion that people of other ethnic or religious groups are “invaders,” once an unmistakable signal of illegal extremism because it was the animating idea behind Hitler’s rise, is now uttered by members of a legal political party, the AfD, and is heard in mainstream right-wing media.

It has international sanction, too: The man chosen by Donald Trump to be the U.S. ambassador to Germany, Douglas Macgregor, has described religious-minority Europeans as “invaders” in language similar to that heard on the chat network.

It’s a situation Germany has seen before: a violent cancer went unnoticed within the state because its messages had become so numbingly familiar. What we need to be on guard for, in every country, is not just the threat of intolerance, but also the sense of numbness and indifference that allows it to thrive.


Former BMO CEO Tony Comper revamps charity focused on anti-Semitism

Of note:

An educational organization launched by former Bank of Montreal chief executive officer Tony Comper and his late wife, Elizabeth, to combat anti-Semitism in Canada is bringing in new leadership as incidents of discrimination and hate in the community continue to rise.

Fighting Antisemitism Together or FAST launched in 2005 with backing from a coalition of more than 30 influential corporate leaders that included then-CEOs Ed Clark of Toronto-Dominion Bank, Dominic D’Allessandro of Manulife Financial Corp. and Michael Sabia of BCE Inc. Since then, the charitable initiative has built free education programs geared to middle schools and high schools, and has reached 4.4 million students at more than 22,000 schools.

FAST was conceived to push back against a rash of anti-Semitic incidents in 2004. But the number of such incidents has risen sharply since then, and a global movement protesting against systemic racism over the past several months has offered a “stark reminder” of the prejudices that still persist, Mr. Comper said.

Now FAST is joining with the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, a scholarly organization that publishes the academic journal Antisemitism Studies. CISA founding director Catherine Chatterley, who teaches at the University of Manitoba, is taking over as FAST’s chair and president.

In 2004, B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights catalogued 857 incidents of harassment, violence and vandalism targeting Jewish people in Canada – the largest number in more than half a century. By 2019, the same audit tallied 2,207 incidents, an 8-per-cent increase from 2018 and the fourth consecutive year of record numbers. Some of that increase has been driven by increasing online harassment, which was up 11 per cent, according to B’nai Brith Canada.

“The obvious question is, if you’re doing such a wonderful job, why isn’t it having an impact on anti-Semitism?” Mr. Comper said. “The increase in the incidences justifies exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing and the need for it.”

FAST was Ms. Comper’s idea. The former elementary-school teacher was shaken by the rash of anti-Semitic incidents making headlines in 2004: “Kicking over tombstones, swastikas on garage doors, the burning of the [United] Talmud Torah school in Montreal,” Mr. Comper said.

Ms. Comper cornered her husband in the bathroom while he shaved and insisted they do something about it. Neither was Jewish, nor were the key backers Mr. Comper enlisted, who put up $10,000 each and added their names to the initiative. But non-Jewish leaders speaking out in support of Jewish communities became one of FAST’s distinctive features.

The Compers became convinced the best way to root out anti-Semitism was through the school system. They built educational materials, first on DVD and later online, and provided them to teachers free, tailoring the content to meet standards across different boards of education, in English and French.

“To fundamentally change, you need to focus on education of young people and equip them with an alternative narrative to what they’re hearing either at home, or in the street or in the school yard,” Mr. Comper said.

At its outset, Mr. Comper didn’t envisage FAST as a long-term project. “I thought, frankly, that it would burn out after maybe 18 months or two years,” he said. But its educational resources have been continually revamped and expanded as anti-Semitic incidents continue to rise.

The organization has been spearheaded by Ms. Comper, who died in 2014, Mr. Comper, who was BMO’s CEO from 1999 to 2007, and FAST’s executive director, Nicole Miller. Yet at the age of 75, Mr. Comper has been looking for a partner to whom he could pass the torch.

He has promised to fund FAST for the next two years, and plans to stay on as an adviser working with Dr. Chatterley to build a new, more sustainable structure for fundraising and administration. “We’re hopeful,” he said. “It’s early days.”

Source: Former BMO CEO Tony Comper revamps charity focused on anti-Semitism

When Senator Joe McCarthy Defended Nazis | History

Good long read over a lessor known incident near the end of WW II and how the role of former Senator Joe McCarthy in undermining the truth, not without parallels today:

Annihilate the enemy. That was Adolf Hitler’s standing order to his elite Waffen-SS as the Wehrmacht sought to break the Allies’ tightening grip in late 1944 by crashing through enemy lines in an audacious counteroffensive that would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. The Führer’s edict was enforced in the ice-encrusted fields outside the Belgian city of Malmedy. On the afternoon of December 17, a battle group of the armored First SS Panzer Division ambushed a band of lightly armed U.S. troops. The overwhelmed American GIs’ only option was to raise white flags.

The Nazis accepted their surrender and assembled the American prisoners. Most, they mowed down with machine guns. They used their rifle butts to crush the skulls of others. Those seeking refuge in a café were burned alive or shot. Earlier that day, outside the nearby town of Honsfeld, an American corporal named Johnnie Stegle was randomly selected from a line of captives by an SS soldier who summoned his best English to yell, “Hey, you!” Then he raised a revolver to Stegle’s forehead, killing him instantly. By day’s end, the toll exceeded 150, with 84 murdered at the deadliest of those encounters: the ill-famed Malmedy Massacre.

The remains of American prisoners of war murdered in December 1944 near the Belgian city of Malmedy. The bodies were identified by number for use in war crimes trials brought against more than 70 Nazi soldiers by the U.S. military.
The remains of American prisoners of war murdered in December 1944 near the Belgian city of Malmedy. The bodies were identified by number for use in war crimes trials brought against more than 70 Nazi soldiers by the U.S. military. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Courtesy NARA)

The Allies saw Malmedy as a metaphor for Nazi heinousness and American justice. The frozen corpses of slaughtered POWs had been retrieved and carefully autopsied. Intrepid U.S. investigators gathered evidence and conducted in-depth interviews of survivors from both sides. Military prosecutors laid out a vivid portrait not just of this act of barbarity, but of the modus operandi of the SS, the most savage of Hitler’s war-makers.

An alternative telling of the story arose during and after the proceedings, however, that made it the most controversial war-crimes trial in U.S. history. The new version of the incident flipped the script, casting as malefactors the Army investigators, prosecution team and military tribunal. In this story, American interrogators cruelly tortured the German defendants—they were said to have kicked their testicles and wedged burning matches under their fingernails—and the German confessions were coerced. The United States was out for vengeance, this theory held, which shouldn’t have been surprising given that some of the investigators were Jews. Yes, war was brutal, but any atrocities committed that December day in 1944 should be laid at the feet of the Nazi generals who issued the orders, not the troops who followed them. Yes, America had won the war, and it was imposing a classic victor’s justice. The primary advocates of this alternative narrative were the chief defense attorney, the convicted perpetrators and their ex-Nazi supporters, some U.S. peace activists and, most surprising, the junior senator from Wisconsin, Joseph R. McCarthy.

The trial, held from May to July 1946 in the former concentration camp at Dachau, Germany, charged German generals along with rank-and-file soldiers. All but one of the defendants was found guilty; within a decade, all walked free.
The trial, held from May to July 1946 in the former concentration camp at Dachau, Germany, charged German generals along with rank-and-file soldiers. All but one of the defendants was found guilty; within a decade, all walked free. (Ullstein Bild via Getty Images)

Three years after the verdicts, the Army appointed a commission to sort out the conflicting interpretations of the Malmedy prosecutions. That probe spawned more lurid news accounts of alleged coercion of testimony and mistreatment of the German inmates, which led the Army to name yet another review panel. With political pressure building, in March 1949 the Senate convened a special investigatory subcommittee made up of Raymond Baldwin of Connecticut, Estes Kefauver of Tennessee and Lester Hunt of Wyoming. McCarthy, who’d been intensely interested from the start, was granted special authorization by the panel to sit in as an observer.

At the time, McCarthy was less than halfway through his first term in the Senate, and he hadn’t yet launched the reckless crusade against alleged Communists that would turn his name into an “ism.” Relegated to the status of a backbencher after Democrats took control of the Senate in 1949, McCarthy was thirsting for a cause that would let him claim the spotlight. The cause that this ex-Marine and uber-patriot picked—as an apologist for the Nazi perpetrators of the bloodiest slaughter of American soldiers during World War II—would, more than anything he had done previously, define him for his fellow senators and anybody else paying close attention. But so few were paying him heed that no alarms were sounded, and in short order his Malmedy trickery was overshadowed by his campaign against those he branded as un-American, an irony that lends special meaning to this forgotten chapter in the making of Joe McCarthy.

* * *

Source: When Senator Joe McCarthy Defended Nazis | History

Construction of Austrian Holocaust victims’ memorial begins

Long overdue:

Construction of Austria’s first public monument naming all the country’s Holocaust victims began on Monday, a further step by Adolf Hitler’s native land towards confronting an issue it has long struggled with.

For decades after World War Two, Austria denied responsibility for crimes committed by the Nazis, arguing that it was their first victim despite the enthusiasm with which many citizens had welcomed annexation by Hitler’s Germany in 1938.

The country now recognises that Austrians were perpetrators as well as victims of Nazi crimes but it has not confronted that chapter of its history as openly or directly as Germany.

“Berlin has one. Paris has one. Vienna had none. But the day has finally come today,” Oskar Deutsch, president of the Jewish Community (IKG), the body officially representing Austria’s Jews, said at a ceremony marking the start of construction work.

The new monument, located in a park next to Austria’s central bank, will comprise a ring of upright stone slabs around an island of trees, and will name all 64,259 Austrian victims of the Holocaust. It is due to be inaugurated in a year’s time.

“Remembering means commemorating the victims of the Shoah. This remembering and our history increase our responsibility, the responsibility daily and together to do everything to ensure that something like this never happens again,” said Deutsch.

Ironically, the project was first backed in 2018 by a previous coalition government of current Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO), which was founded in the 1950s by former Nazis and whose first leader had been an SS officer.

Although the FPO says it has abandoned its anti-Semitic past and now denounces the Holocaust, it has been plagued by racism and anti-Semitism scandals, and the IKG still refuses to deal with party officials. The FPO crashed out of government last year and Kurz now governs in coalition with the Greens.

There are Holocaust memorials in Vienna but the only one naming the Jews who lived in Austria and were murdered is in the city’s main synagogue.

Source: Construction of Austrian Holocaust victims’ memorial begins

Munich bans use of Nazi ‘Jewish star’ at coronavirus protests

Sad that it has had to come to this:

The city of Munich banned the use of Nazi-era Stars of David at coronavirus protests on Sunday after participants were seen wearing them in recent weeks.

Several protesters in cities across Germany have started wearing six pointed, yellow stars with the word “unvaccinated” emblazoned on them. From the color to the font, they’re nearly identical to the badges Jewish people were forced to wear across Nazi-occupied territories during the Holocaust.

Read moreHow are Germany’s coronavirus protests different?

Other anti-lockdown protesters have also dressed up in stripped prisoner uniforms — drawing comparison to concentration camp prisoners — and held up signs reading: “Masks will set you free” or “Vaccination will set you free.”

The slogans reference the “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work will set you free”) signs that hung above several concentration camps, where millions of Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

Demonstrators are using the highly questionable protest tactics to voice their opposition to mandatory coronavirus vaccines — despite the fact that the German government has repeatedly said it will not implement such a program.

Politicians slam anti-Semitic tactic

Felix Klein, Germany’s commissioner for the fight against anti-Semitism, said that wearing the altered Jewish stars was a “calculated breaking of a taboo,” reported local public broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk.

The tactic has been used increasingly in protests in Germany, Klein said. In using symbols of the Holocaust to provoke at protests, he added, the demonstrators downplay the victims and their suffering.

Other politicians have called for more cities and states to also ban the use of Nazi-era stars at protests and to label them as a form of incitement.

Rüdiger Erben, a Social Democrat lawmaker in the state parliament of Saxony-Anhalt, said that the symbols have also appeared at protests in his state and that they have nothing to do with freedom of speech or freedom of assembly.

Whoever puts on one of the stars is acting “as an anti-Semite of the most repulsive kind,” Erben told news agency epd.

Protesters have been gathering for weeks in cities across Germany to demonstrate against the government’s restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Although participant numbers are starting to dwindle, politicians and analysts have grown increasingly concerned about right-wing extremist radicalization at the demonstrations.

Source: Munich bans use of Nazi ‘Jewish star’ at coronavirus protests

ICYMI: Germany sees rise in anti-Semitic, political crimes

Of note:

Germany saw a rise both far-right and far-left crimes in 2019, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday.

The country’s police recorded just over 41,000 cases of politically motivated crime last year, representing a rise of 14.2% compared to 2018, when there were just over 36,000.

More than half of all cases could be attributed to the far-right scene, the statistics show, with 22,342 cases, representing a 9.4% increase. The politically motivated crimes recorded ranged from verbal abuse, spreading racist propaganda, hate speech, to assault, arson, and murder. There has also been a 23% rise in far-left crime, focused particularly in the eastern city of Leipzig.

At the press conference, Seehofer was at pains to allay concerns that police or authorities were losing sight of far-right violence.

“The biggest threat comes from the far-right, we have to see that clearly,” Seehofer said,

Authorities also recorded 2,032 crimes motivated by anti-Semitism – a rise of 13% over 2018, and the highest since those statistics were collected. Some 93.4% of those crimes were carried out by far-right perpetrators. Seehofer said there was a similar figure – 90.1% – for Islamophobic crimes, which have also risen by 4% to 950 cases.

More propaganda, more murders

Next week marks the first anniversary of the murder of conservative politician Walter Lübcke, head of government in Kassel, central Germany. Far-right extremist Stephan E. initially confessed to the murder, though he withdrew the confession earlier this year and replaced it with a partial confession implicating an accomplice.

Far-right killings continued in February this year, when nine people of immigrant background were murdered by an extremist in two cafes in the central German city of Hanau.

The figures show that 36.8% of far-right crimes involve “propaganda offenses,” 13.7% involve “racist hate speech,” 4.9% property damage, and 4.4% violence against people.

Georg Maier, interior minister of Thuringia, who joined the press conference as the current chairman of the state interior ministers’ conference, was particularly forthright on the far-right threat.

“What we experienced in 2019 and 2020 represents a new dimension of threat against our democracy,” Maier said. “This danger is coming from the right. Three murders in 2019, and in 2020 already 10 murders with a racist and far-right extremist background. It had been a long time since we had the murder of a political representative in Germany, and that makes very clear how big the challenge for us is.”

Last week, Seehofer attended the first meeting of a newly established Cabinet committee, chaired by Chancellor Angela Merkel, to fight right-wing extremism and racism. “It was a very, very good and deep discussion,” Seehofer said. A cabinet report on new measures is planned for next spring.

The far-right and anti-lockdown protests

Maier, a Social Democrat who said his own campaign posters had been defaced with swastikas, said he had noticed an increase in “far-right structures,” both in the form of concerts, martial arts clubs, and online groups.

He said that organizers were using concerts to raise money for political campaigns and mentioned that far-right had even opened bars to create another revenue stream.

He went on connect such developments to a more polarized political atmosphere, and suggested that recent demonstrations against social distancing measures had been deliberately “undermined” by the far-right scene.

The data was released as police in Germany on Wednesday raided 25 premises linked to 31 suspected members of anti-government Reich Citizens Movement — a movement that overlaps with far-right extremist groups.

The group was suspected of making fake documents, including passports, driver’s licenses and birth certificates. The raids took place in the states of Hesse and Baden-Württemberg.

A faction of the group was officially banned by Seehofer in March for its anti-Semitic and right-wing sympathies.

Source: Germany sees rise in anti-Semitic, political crimes

ICYMI: Jewish Americans Say They Are Scapegoated For The Coronavirus Spread

Less than Asian Americans I suspect, but still of concern:

American Jews are finding themselves in a historically familiar position: Scapegoated for a plague.

Some of the first New Yorkers to contract the coronavirus were Jews in the Orthodox Jewish communities in and around New York City. In the weeks that followed, several Jewish weddings and funerals were held in violation of public health orders. Then came statements from public officials singling out Jews, and anti-Semitic threats on Facebook.

After New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio witnessed the NYPD break up a large funeral in Brooklyn for a prominent rabbi, the mayor tweeted: “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed.”

De Blasio was condemned by fellowDemocrats and American Jews. There is no data indicating religious Jews are violating social distancing rules at a greater rate than other demographic groups. While there have been high-profile incidents of police disrupting Jewish gatherings, the NYPD has also made arrests of various sorts for failing to practice social distancing, like at a Brooklyn barbershop and at a Manhattan “marijuana party.” And pictures of throngs hanging out at parks and closely congregatingfor the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds flyovers indicated that not social distancing isn’t a problem specific to a particular religious group.

De Blasio later said that he “spoke out of real distress that people’s lives were in danger.” He added: “I regret if the way I said it in any way gave people a feeling of being treated the wrong way, that was not my intention. It was said with love but it was tough love, it was anger and frustration.”

By some accounts, religious Jews in certain neighborhoods of New York City have been stricken by the virus at high rates. At the same time, Jews who have recovered from the virus have donated plasma in extraordinary numbers in an effort to save others.

In early March, Yaacov Behrman, a community leader and Hasidic Jewish activist, rushed to get ahead of the virus by marrying his bride, Shevi Katzman, after an engagement of just a week-and-a-half. They had a socially distanced wedding across two Brooklyn backyards — with a few siblings, no cousins, two witnesses and a rabbi, and 2,500 people watching on Facebook Live.

“I think that’s what’s so painful and upsetting about it, about the mayor’s tweet, [is] the vast majority of Orthodox Jews have given up [something] — I gave up a wedding,” Behrman said. “What are you generalizing for, Mr. Mayor? It’s like going to the park and saying, ‘My message to the yuppies,’ you know?”

Behrman said he does not believe the mayor is anti-Semitic, but Jews should not have been singled out.

“The organizers of the funeral [de Blasio tweeted about] were 100% wrong — it was an embarrassment, it was an embarrassment to me as an Orthodox Jew, it was an embarrassment to me as a New Yorker,” he said. “But I also want to make it clear, you look around New York, everyone is becoming lax unfortunately.”

Yet there’s a pattern of specifically highlighting Jewish offenders. In Lakewood, N.J., where early on in the pandemic police made arrests at large Jewish gatherings, a local news station reported that a school bus was carrying children to a Jewish school that was open, illegally. The reporter later acknowledged that the bus was just delivering food to homebound families.

In nearby Jackson Township, N.J., town council president Barry Calogero made a speech at a government meeting indicating that Judaism itself made Jews recalcitrant when it comes to following the rules.

“Unfortunately, there are groups of people who hide behind cultures or religious beliefs and put themselves, our first responders, and quite honestly all of Jackson and bordering towns at risk for their selfishness, irresponsibility and inability to follow the law put in place by President Trump and Governor Murphy,” he said.

Calogero said he was not anti-Semitic. But after criticism he resigned days later, citing health reasons.

And in Rockland County, N.Y., where there are large communities of Orthodox Jews, the county executive’s Facebook post about police breaking up a large Passover service was met by anti-Semitic comments.

Violations of health regulations by Orthodox Jews have been documented by public officials and media at a level of scrutiny that Jews say others don’t face. Eli Steinberg, an Orthodox Jewish writer in Lakewood, N.J., says it’s easier to generalize about those who wear traditional garb.

“We’re, ya know, we’re the guys dressed in black and white and we wear the hats, so it becomes a sort of more interesting story” when Jews violate health rules, he said. “But it’s not — it’s a story about people….People do dumb stuff.”

The problem, he said, is when it is made to seem as though the few who violate the rules are more widespread in a particular community.

“In a time of such uncertainty, which we’re going through now, when you can effectively scapegoat somebody or scapegoat a group of people about the issue that people are scared of…that’s a part of it that concerns me,” Steinberg said. “This moment where there’s the vehicle of Covid19 to use to spread hate, it just becomes that much more scary.”

Bari Weiss, author of How To Fight Anti-Semitism and a New York Timesopinion staff writer and editor, said given how anti-Semitism is at historic peaks in New York and around the country, public officials need to be “extremely specific” in criticizing large gatherings, instead of blaming “the Jewish community.”

I think that there is a double standard often when it comes to the way that the Jewish community and Jews are talked about, whether it’s because we’re not perceived as a minority, even though we are,” she said. “It stands to reason that lots of people who already perhaps have animosity toward that community will be even more emboldened.

The Anti-Defamation League released a report this week showing that there were more anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 than at any year since it it began tracking in 1979.

“Anyone that’s been paying attention, or anyone that knows people inside of these communities, knows already dozens of stories of people that have been spit on, assaulted, harassed, had their head coverings pulled off, had their face smashed with a paving stone,” Weiss said.

Now, amid the coronavirus, the hate is more socially distanced — happening largely online. Last month the ADL documented how community Facebook groups are loaded with comments blaming Jews for spreading the virus, and calling for them to be firehosed, tear-gassed and denied medical care.

Already a New Jersey man was arrested for using Facebook to threaten to assault Lakewood’s Jews for spreading the virus. He was charged with making terrorist threats during a state of emergency. A county deputy fire marshall in New Jersey was investigated for similar Facebook comments. And in Queens, a couple was charged with hate crimes after attacking a group of Orthodox Jews — ripping their masks off and punching them in the face — for supposedly not social distancing.

“You Jews are all getting us sick,” the couple allegedly yelled.

This is all too familiar to Jews, Weiss says. For centuries Jews have been massacred for supposedly spreading plagues. Rats brought the black death to the European continent in the 1300s, “but rats weren’t blamed. Jews were blamed.” Thousands were slaughtered; entire communities were eliminated.

Jews today do not believe that violence at such a scale is imminent. But they remember their history.

I think Jewish memory is always a gift, but it’s especially a gift in a moment of crisis because frankly, we Jews have lived through a tremendous amount in our centuries on this Earth,” Weiss said. “And whenever we ask could it get worse, we know the answer is yes, because we’ve lived through worse, or at least our ancestors have. So I think Jewish memory can help us be grateful and keep things in perspective.”

Source: Jewish Americans Say They Are Scapegoated For The Coronavirus Spread

Germany: No let-up in anti-Jewish crimes

Official police-reported statistics:

Germany’s annual report on politically motivated crimes will detail more than 41,000 crimes last year attributed to far-right and far-left individuals, with anti-Semitic acts amounting to 2,000 offenses, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday.

Citing data to be published next week by the Federal Criminal Police Office, the paper said experts blamed the upward trend of politically motivated crime on an increasing belief by perpetrators that the behavior is socially acceptable..

The 41,000 cases overall represented a 14% increase on the level in 2018, with 22,000 crimes classed as extreme right and 10,000 crimes as extreme left — often so-called “propaganda” acts such as smearing graffiti, with some far more serious.

These categories had grown by 9 and 24% respectively, Welt am Sonntag reported.

Particularly alarming were politically motivated crimes in Germany’s eastern states of Thuringia and Brandenburg, where such cases had jumped by 40 and 52% respectively.

The data “unfortunately” shows a “massive problem” at both ends of the spectrum, said Thorsten Frei, deputy parliamentary leader of Chancellor Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).

Politicians, journalists targeted

“Hate” tirades on the Internet were often aired “unrestrained” against communal politicians or journalists, said Frei, and some even included murder threats.

“Where ever the concept of “the enemy” [Feinbild] became entrenched in minds this sometimes quickly led to [threats] being acted out, said Frei while calling for the “swamp” of contemptuous language to be stamped out.

“People’s reticence to resort to violence has fallen,” Jörg Radek, deputy GdP police trade union leader told the paper. “People become violent more quickly because they are increasingly confident that their acts are socially accepted, said Radek.

“All violence from the right and left must be outlawed,” he said, “whether it’s directed at a camera crew, emergency workers, or the crew of a police patrol car.”

Hate-motivated sprees

In recent decades, Germany has witnessed a string of far-right racist crimes, including fatal shooting sprees in Halle in October and in Hanau in February.

Seehofer subsequently declared far-right extremism the “biggest security threat facing Germany,” promising a beefed-up security response.

Source: Germany: No let-up in anti-Jewish crimes

Vatican minimised Shoah reports due to antisemitism, researchers find

Having access to the Vatican archives was a long-term objective for many Holocaust researchers and good that these are being opened up with not surprising evidence of antisemitism and arguably wilful blindness and rejection of evidence:

German researchers working in the Apostolic Archive have found that the Vatican was handed reports about the extent of the Holocaust in 1942, but dismissed some of the information they contained.

The seven-person team from the University on Münster found that the Vatican had minimised information on the massacres of Jews, considering that Jewish and Ukrainian sources could not be trusted.

The conclusions hinge on a 1942 American démarche to the Holy See.

The team found that on September 27, 1942, the Holy See was passed a report by the American envoy to the Vatican, detailing the murder of Jews in occupied Poland and asking if the Catholic Church could independently confirm the crimes it outlined.

The report outlined how Jews were being taken out of the Warsaw Ghetto, and murdered outside of the city in camps.

The report, read by Pius XII on the day that it was received in Rome, said that 100,000 Jews had been murdered and that 50,000 had been murdered in Lviv, in what was then eastern Poland, and is now western Ukraine.

The report added that there were no Jews remaining in eastern Poland, and that Jews from Germany, Slovakia and the Low Countries had been transported to Eastern Europe where they were murdered.

The Vatican Apostolic Archives, which until October were known as the “Secret Archives”, contain up to 2 million pages of documents from Pius XII’s papacy. The Vatican threw open their doors, which were due to remain closed until 2028, on 1 March.

The researchers, led by priest and professor Hubert Wolf, a historian of the Catholic Church, spent a week working in the Apostolic Archive from March 2 before it was closed due to coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Wolf’s team found documents showing that the Holy See had received two letters independently confirming reports of massacres of Jews from Warsaw and Lviv.

In August 1942, it had received a letter from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archbishop of Lviv, Andrey Sheptysky, who wrote of 200,000 murdered. The following month, an Italian businessman spoke of “butchery” of Jews in Warsaw.

Despite these reports, the Vatican informed the American envoy that it was unable to confirm the reports.

Internally, a rationale justified that the information remained “to be verified”, in the words of a Papal adviser, as Jews “exaggerate” and that “Orientals” – referring to the Ukrainian Uniates – “are really not an example of honesty”.

Pius XII’s papacy ran from 1939 until 1958, and he never publically condemned the Holocaust, despite historians agreeing that the Vatican was aware of the murder of Jews across Europe.

Debate hinges on whether the Vatican remained too silent during the Holocaust and newly uncovered documents in the Apostolic Archive will contribute to peeling back a curtain of uncertainty on the role and knowledge of the wider Catholic Church during the Holocaust.

Documents from Pope Pius XII's pontificate have been opened to historians since March 1
Documents from Pope Pius XII’s pontificate have been opened to historians since March 1 (Photo: Getty)

Professor Wolf suggested that documents such as those his team had uncovered had been left out of the official Vatican compendium of Pius XII’s wartime role in a bid to preserve his legacy.

“This is a key document that has been kept hidden from us because it is clearly antisemitic and shows why Pius XII did not speak out against the Holocaust,” Wolf told Münster’s Catholic Kirche + Leben.

Mr Wolf noted in an interview with German Catholic newswire KNA that there was also potentially embarrassing information on the Church’s participation in the ‘Rat Lines’, networks that spirited high-ranking Nazis to Italy and on to Latin America.

Mr Wolf suggested, based on reports from the Papal Nuncio in Argentina, that the “the Vatican might have been able to get them passports,” and wondered whether “the nuncio was the middle man?”

Source: Vatican minimised Shoah reports due to antisemitism, researchers find