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Fears of Anti-Semitism from Migrants Escalate in Germany

The foremost Jewish organization in Germany has called for special classes against anti-Semitism for Muslim immigrants. Its vice president, Abraham Lehrer, said that immigrants are arriving from countries where “anti-Semitism is part of the rationale of the state” and integration classes should be “tailored” to the respective country of each immigrant. Lehrer spoke Sunday before the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the infamous pogrom in which Jewish houses, synagogues, and businesses were torched across Germany with the authorities’ approval.

Some Israelis in Germany have expressed fear of disclosing their national identity. Photo:  DPA

Some Israelis in Germany have expressed fear of disclosing their national identity. Photo: DPA

Three years ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel opened borders to Syrian refugees. Now, Germany is fighting a significant increase in anti-Semitism, which is partly due to speech from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. AfD uses examples of acts of prejudice against Jews to forge mistrust of new immigrants, even though the party itself has been known to be anti-Semitic.

“The AfD is a kind of catalyst for various groups with anti-Semitic roots,” Lehrer said. While much of the anti-Semitic rhetoric in Germany is perpetuated by Germans, migrants shoulder most of the blame.

In 2017 in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust survivor Morris Dan holds photos of his family. Photo:  Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

In 2017 in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust survivor Morris Dan holds photos of his family. Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

“We’re having a lot more violent, everyday confrontations that come through incidents with immigrants,” said Sergey Lagodinsky, a member of the assembly of the Jewish community in Berlin earlier this year.

The growth of anti-Semitism in Germany has been increasing over the past year. In March, upon witnessing increased anti-Semitic behavior among students in public schools, Berlin state legislator Sawsan Chebli recognized a need for change. Chebli, who has Palestinian heritage, proposed making visits to Nazi concentration camps mandatory for everyone. Berlin teachers have commented that visits make teaching history easier.

The increase in anti-Semitism may be a consequence of the growth of the far-right across the globe. Now, Germany faces a dilemma in fighting back against anti-Semitism without endangering Muslim immigrants.