Right in time for Passover as tiny Jewish student communities across Germany were preparing for the Jewish holiday, several University campuses all over the country were hit by a major anti-Semitic cyber-attack.

Last week, printers and photo copy machines on college campuses across Germany began spontaneously shooting off flyers filled with anti-Semitic contents.

The Spokesperson of Jewish Society at the University of Bonn says, “​Just imagine sitting in your university and suddenly, dozens of anti-Semitic fliers with hate speech fly out of the printer next to you. Your university has usually been a safe place but now you face death threats against you, your family, and your friends, and you can’t do anything to stop the attack. On top of that, you find out that your school was one of several in the country that was targeted.” Bonn-based German newspaper General Anzeiger reports:

Universities across German have been hit by a cyber attack. Many colleges confirmed that their network printers and photo-copy machines had been spontaneously printing racist and anti-Semitic flyers, out of nowhere. According to reports the affected academic institution include Universities in Hamburg, Bonn, Münster, Lüneburg, Bremen, Tübingen und Erlangen-Nürnberg. (…) Meanwhile, the security breach has reportedly been closed. [Authors translation]

[University of Bonn; image credit Vijeta Uniyal]

[University of Bonn; image credit Vijeta Uniyal]

The student representative at the University of Bonn maintains that this attack is in “no way representative of the actual situation at German universities. We are happy to welcome Jewish students and researchers to Bonn, as well as to greater Germany, regardless of their nationality, where they can study in an open, tolerant, and safe environment.”

University and the city of Bonn have been turning into a hub for anti-Israel activism in recent years. In March 2016, the local chapter of anti-Israel boycott movement (BDS) conducted an “inspection” of the city’s largest department store searching for products made in Israel. The activists wore white lab coats marked “BDS inspection” as they roamed around the mall meticulously checking each shelves for Israeli products. The group has vowed to carry out such inspections in future as well.

The source of last week’s nationwide cyber attack has not yet been established, however the copy of a flyer obtained by Legal Insurrection apparently has a reference to an American Neo-Nazi website — printed vertically on the side. The German language flyer contains a quotation from Hitler’s Mein Kampf and accuses Jews of engineering the European Migrant Crisis.

When Hitler rose to power in 1933, roughly half a million Jews lived in the Germany. During the Holocaust Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews, including 165,ooo German Jews. Today, roughly 100,000 Jews reside in Germany. The Jewish population in Germany has been gradually aging. However, the Jewish student community in German campuses has flourished in recent year owing partially to many Jewish-American students opting to study in Germany.

The spokesman of Jewish students in Bonn urged the authorities to “close the loophole in our system in order to ensure that such an attack is no longer possible and to pursue the prosecution of whoever is responsible.”

The college campuses affected by the cyber attack include Bonn, Hamburg, Nuremberg, Bremen, Münter and Tübingen.

[Author is an analyst based in Bonn, Germany]


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