I wore a Kippah in solidarity with Jews at a rally against antisemitism. Now I know the danger of “walking while Jewish.”
As a foreigner moving to Germany, I sensed the Antisemitism early on. I knew the perpetrators all too well. They were mostly men my age, the majority of them from the Middle East or Muslim-majority North Africa.
As I strolled Cologne’s inner city for the first time some ten years ago, the Jew-hatred stared right at my face.
It was not the well-disguised Antisemitism that my progressive and woke German friends and colleagues displayed. Like the time when one of them claimed that Palestinian suicide bombers killing innocent Jews were mere “freedom fighters.” Or things you heard between the lines every time Jews or the Jewish State was mentioned in an academic debate.
The Jew-hatred on the street was free from polite inhibitions you generally expected from educated Germans mindful of their historical responsibility and guilt. These men, mostly from Turkey or the Middle East, do not know such restraints. They praised Hitler, glorified the Holocaust, and called for the destruction of Israel. Harmless conversations in cafés or streets often veered towards wild claims of Jewish conspiracies.
Even for Indian migrants like me, with no ax to grind on the issue of the Middle Eastern conflicts, it was clear that something was deeply wrong here. In the wake of the 2012 Gaza conflict and the ensuing antisemitic hate-fest on the streets of Cologne prompted me to mobilize fellow Indians living in Germany and the West. If immigrants fueled Antisemitism on German roads, then we immigrants had to take it head-on.
The overwhelming support I got from the Indian community led to the creation of the social media initiative ‘Indians For Israel.’ My subsequent visits to Israel and my interactions with the German Jewish community only strengthened my commitment.
My activism has made me a target for online hate, making my loved ones worried about my safety. I, however, take all this in stride. We in Europe need to stand up against this surging Antisemitism while we still have time. If it’s Jews today, it will be Christians or Hindus tomorrow.
This weekend reminded me again that seven decades after the Holocaust, walking while Jewish is an invitation to violence and harassment on German streets.
On Sunday, I attended a small rally against Antisemitism in the city of Bonn when an elderly Jewish woman approached me. She told me to be careful about wearing a Kippah, the Jewish skullcap, in public. I was the only participant wearing Kippah at the event, and this graciously kind woman showed concern for my safety.
She told me how a gang of migrants attacked her for donning a Jewish religious symbol, pointing to her tiny pendant spelling the Hebrew alphabet “chai,” which also symbolizes life. She said she is careful not to display it openly.
Just as she turned away, a passerby, thinking I am a Jew, yelled at my face to f*** off.
In my ten years in Germany, my beloved adoptive home, I have never witnessed anything nearly as appalling.
This is not a freak or a bizarre incident. Last year, in the same town, a “man with Palestinian roots” attacked a visiting Jewish professor. The Baltimore-based academic wore a kippah at the time of the assault.
German Jews no longer feel safe on the streets. According to the media reports, around 70 percent of the Jews residing in Germany have stopped wearing Jewish symbols in public to avoid attacks from “migrants of Turkish and Arab origin.”
The rally itself took place in the backdrop of recent attacks on German synagogues. On October 9, a German neo-Nazi tried to storm a synagogue in the city of Halle while the congregation marked Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism. Two passersby were killed in the terror attack. Just two days earlier, a knife-wielding Syrian migrant tried to enter a Berlin synagogue while shouting “Allahu akbar” and “F*** Israel.” The Berlin police allowed him to walk free.
The multicultural paradise promised by Germany’s media and political elite has turned into a nightmare for the country’s tiny and beleaguered Jewish minority. Last year, the number of violent antisemitic attacks against Jews rose by 155 percent in the German capital of Berlin as compared to the 2017 figures, a study published by a leading watchdog group showed. The problem is compounded by the government’s refusal to address the issues of Muslim Antisemitism. With Berlin pursuing a reckless open door policy for illegal immigrants, mostly coming from Arab North Africa and the Middle East, things won’t get better anytime soon.DONATE
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