The city of Mülheim in northwestern Germany cancelled its official Hanukkah festivities, citing ‘security concerns,’ German newspaper Bild Zeitung reported. All the outdoor Hanukkah events due to take place in Mülheim and the adjoining region have also been cancelled, the head of the local Jewish community confirmed.

The German state of North-Rhine Westphalia, where Mülheim is located, has seen an upsurge of antisemitic attacks in the recent years. In the nearby city of Bochum, the Jewish community leaders have urged Jews to stop wearing kippah, the traditional Jewish skullcap that identifies them as Jews, in public. Last month, the local broadcaster Radio Bochum reported that Jews “routinely faced with insults on public streets when they are recognized as Jews.” The broadcaster identified the perpetrators as “Muslim youths.”

A study published by the Berlin branch of American Jewish Committee (AJC) today points to “widespread antisemitism among Arab refugees in Germany.”

“Until now, reports that many new arrivals in Germany espouse anti-Semitism have been largely anecdotal,” said AJC Berlin Director Deidre Berger. “But this new scientific analysis shows that the problem is widespread in the refugee communities from Syria and Iraq. Anti-Semitic attitudes, stereotypes, and conspiracy theories are common, as well as a categorical rejection by many of the State of Israel.”

Country’s most-read newspaper Bild Zeitung broke the story on Wednesday:

It was meant to be the festival of joy — but Hanukkah has now been cancelled. The Jewish community and the city of Mülheim have cancelled the event planned at the symbolic Synagogenplatz.

The spokesperson for the city, Volker Wiebels did not speak of an imminent threat, but referred to the advice of the Central Council of Jews (the umbrella organisation of German Jewish community).

The city hall, exposed from many sides, could not serve as a protected site. “A secured indoor location could not be found at such short notice.

City’s Mayor, Ulrich Scholten, a 60-year-old Social Democrat said, “It is unbelievable that I have to witness a time — apart from the period between 1933 and 1945 — that a Jewish public gathering cannot take place due to security reasons.

Alexander Drehmann, head of the Jewish communities in Mülheim, Oberhausen and Duisburg, said,”Most of all we feel grief, because Hanukkah is a festival of joy. We have cancelled all outdoor events. We are going to our community hall with secured entrance checkpoint, instead of being at the municipal theater. There were warnings, even from the non-Jewish sources, which I cannot name. It is a bad feeling. Surely one of the lowest points in our post-war history.

Michael Rubinstein, head of the [North Rhine-Westphalia] state association of Jewish communities of Nordrhein region, told us in Düsseldorf, “I use to get blatant hate mails, just as I do today. The difference is: earlier one tried to stay anonymous. People now write their proper names without any inhibitions. Apparently they feel that they speak for the majority. This should makes us do some seriously thinking. [Translation by the author]

The announcement comes just days after the antisemitic weekend demonstrations that took place in Berlin and other German cities. In Berlin, more than three thousand Muslim men were heard chanting Arabic slogans, shouting  “death to the Jews” and “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is coming again” — alluding to the annihilation of the Jewish population of Khaybar, an oasis in Saudi Arabia, at the hands of Muhammad and his conquering army.

“German city of Mülheim pulls the plug on its Hanukka festival below due to security concerns. My suggestion: make Aliyah (return to Israel),” tweeted Benjamin Weinthal, a noted political commentator on German affairs and Fellow for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD).

In early 1930, Mülheim was home to a tiny Jewish population of around 600. According to local historical records, while many fled the country in the wake of Nazi takeover, 263 Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. The whereabouts of 53 Jews, who were deported to the Nazi Concentration Camps, remain unknown to this date. The fact that a Jewish community could reestablish itself in the city, is a miracle in itself. The resurfacing on antisemitism, this time imported from the Middle East, makes the future of this tiny Jewish community highly uncertain.

Video: Demonstrators in Berlin chanting ‘Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning’ on Saturday

[Cover image via YouTube]