Israeli, German Leadership Agree More Needed to Battle Anti-Semitism

PM Netanyahu with German Chancelor Merkel. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of Israeli GPO.

Following the horrific shooting attack at a synagogue in Halle, Germany on Yom Kippur, Israeli leadership spoke with their Germany counterparts on Thursday to discuss doing more to address anti-Semitism. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and “expressed his appreciation for her vigorous stand against anti-Semitism,” according to a recap of the call published by Netanyahu’s office.

According to the call summary, Netanyahu also said that it was “important to step up efforts against manifestations of anti-Semitism” to which Merkel agreed. For her part, Chancellor Merkel noted that she also “intended to increase efforts to provide for the security of the Jewish community.”

The discussion comes one day after a shooter attacked a German synagogue on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism. NBC reported that the shooter was unable to break into the synagogue—where the persons inside had barricaded the door—and instead he murdered two other persons, one of whom was at a kebab shop. Others were injured.

Merkel’s discussion with Netanyahu comes after the German leader visited a vigil at a synagogue in Berlin to demonstrate her solidarity with the Jewish people, according to a report on the German Chancellor’s Office website. The group that gathered at the synagogue—which included Berlin’s Senate and members of the Jewish community—were making a stand against all forms of anti-Semitism, the website noted.

Merkel wasn’t the only national German official supporting the Jews. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited the attacked synagogue on Thursday. His Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin thanked him for the visit in a call later that day. “We appreciate the efforts taken by the German authorities to protect and to secure German Jews, and still there is more to be done, and the fight has to be without hesitation or compromise,” said Rivlin, according to an Israeli press release on the call.

“I appreciate your willingness and the willingness of the Chancellor to express your personal support for the Jewish community.”

Steinmeier, for his part, expressed sympathy with Rivlin. “I feel your pain, concern and fear and I share it. I said in my statement today that it is not enough to deplore and denounce,” said the German President.

“The German state has to live up to its responsibility to protect Jewish life. The vast majority of Germans who want that must be more active and more vocal.”

Rivlin noted in his comments with Steinmeier that anti-Semitism isn’t just a danger to Jews. “We are partners in the fight against anti-Semitism and neo-Facism. We must learn from this incident to make sure that nothing similar ever happens again,” said Rivlin. “Facism, neo-Facism and anti-Semitism are a source of concern for the whole world.”

Separately, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas expressed horror at the attack in unusually passionate comments for a country’s chief diplomat. “I’m tired of having to express shock and horror time and again. When will this end? Why is this happening in our country?” asked Maas in his statement, published by the Federal Foreign Office. “Two innocent people were brutally murdered—what a horrible, pointless loss of life.”

Maas went on to express his dismay that such an act of evil could still occur in his country. Said the German official, “Antisemitism and xenophobia must have no place in our society. It is shameful to have to repeat this sentence so often in Germany. And it is unbearable that the Jewish community has been exposed to such an attack on its holiest day. In Germany, in 2019!”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, October 10, 2019)

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