On the anniversary of the founding of Germany’s main Jewish group, Chancellor Angela Merkel slammed the increasingly “visible and uninhibited” racism and anti-Semitism in the country.
On Tuesday, Merkel attended celebrations for the 70th birthday of the Central Council of Jews. The organization was originally formed in 1950 to represent Jews who survived the Nazi regime but also to help mend the ties between Israel and Germany.
Speaking at the event, Merkel expressed her happiness at seeing the community “flourishing,” but also used the platform to condemn the persistent anti-Semitism in Germany. She called it “a disgrace” and said, “It shames me deeply how racism and anti-Semitism are expressed in our country in these times.”
In 2019, attacks on Jewish people or Jewish institutions in Germany rose by 13 percent, according to Human Rights Watch. In referencing this trend, Merkel added, “Racism and anti-Semitism never disappeared – and, for some time now, they have become more visible and uninhibited.”
The Central Council of Jews’ leader, Dr. Josef Schuster, also expressed his concern, noting, “On the whole, love for us Jews could be greater – or at least respect.” Nonetheless, he said he was grateful that “the majority of the population stands behind us, as do established [political] parties.”
Less than a year ago, Germany witnessed one of its most shocking anti-Semitic attacks in recent times, when a right-wing extremist attempted to commit mass homicide at a synagogue in Halle. The country still faces a number of challenges when it comes to anti-Semitism, and Schuster contends that the coronavirus pandemic has acted as a “catalyst” for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
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