But the decades since German reunification in 1990, in particular, have seen the Jewish community in Germany gain size and strength.
We can be happy for the flourishing of Jewish life, Merkel said during a ceremony at a Berlin synagogue. But that is only part of today’s reality. The other part of today’s reality is that many Jews do not feel safe and respected in our country, and that worries me a lot.
It is a shame and deeply shames me, how racism and anti-Semitism are expressed in our country these days, she added. Racism and anti-Semitism never disappeared, but for some time now they have become more visible and unrestrained.
We know how quickly words can become deeds, Merkel said, pointing to the bitter attack on a Halle synagogue last year by a German who had posted an anti-Semitic ad online.
The Chancellor said education and dialogue were the best means of preventing acts of hatred, but when these means are insufficient, the full force of the law must be enforced.
Merkel noted the German government’s efforts to improve security at Jewish sites and make social media networks report illegal content and its appointment of a government figure for anti-Semitism.
Before the Nazis came to power, Germany had a Jewish population of about 500,000. The population of the countries of 83 million now includes about 200,000 Jews. Many are immigrants from the former Soviet Union who were taken after the Berlin Wall collapsed in 1989, a gesture of atonement for Nazi crimes.
Central Council leader Josef Schuster said the majority of the population stands behind us, as do the established (political) parties.
But in general, love … for us Jews can be greater or at least respect, Schuster said. This is increasingly missing.
He said the coronavirus pandemic was acting as a catalyst, with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories circulating on the internet and some participants in demonstrations against the restrictions on the virus wearing the David Stars – which Shuster described as a disgusting instrumentalization of the yellow signs of persecuted Jews were forced to keep under Nazi rule.
I know some older people who had to wear this star at the time, people who had to spend years hiding, people who survived for a while, Schuster said. And they are people who are bravely accepting the rules of the crown and see no reason to complain about them.
Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
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