Nazi graffiti on the construction site of a Jewish retirement home, a convicted right-wing terrorist who wants to call for a spontaneous demonstration at the synagogue, corona deniers who believe they are part of a new persecution of the Jews, conspiracy ideologues who babble about the global influence of Jewish power and financial elites, pro-Palestinian Rallies at which the end of the Jewish state is propagated and Israeli soldiers are portrayed as Nazis – but also anti-Jewish resentment, which is loudly voiced in conversations among neighbors on the stairwell. What police, judiciary, constitutional protection and the Research and Information Center for Antisemitism (RIAS) Bavaria these days and weeks report gives a frightening picture: hatred of Jews is booming. Also in Munich.
82 cases of anti-Semitic hate crimes were reported to the Munich police last year – acts that led to investigations and prosecutions. Compared to the previous year, this is an increase of 15 percent. The Munich CSU politician Ludwig Spaenle, representative of the state government against anti-Semitism, speaks of a “dramatic development” across Bavaria.
Against this background, on January 19, the Munich city council decided on an action plan. The latest figures show how necessary this is: In the first quarter of the current year, the Munich state security service has already resumed investigations into 20 cases of criminal hatred of Jews. In the vast majority of cases, the police see the suspects on the right spectrum. Last year, for example, 72 anti-Jewish crimes were committed in Munich by perpetrators with right-wing extremist tendencies.
The state-sponsored research agency Rias has identified three main areas in which hatred of Jews is expressed: “the (…) ongoing protests against the measures taken to contain the corona pandemic, the anti-Israel mobilization in May and June and anti-Semitic news on the Internet (… ) to threats,” according to the 2021 report, in which Rias also evaluates reports of incidents that fall below the limits set by criminal law.
In many cases, anti-Semitism to the point of open hatred was publicly shown or articulated. “All in all, we documented anti-Semitic content at 47 meetings in Munich in 2021,” explains a Rias employee when asked, “30 of them related to corona, 13 related to the escalation of terror against Israel and the reactions in May and June”. Rias documented 249 anti-Semitic incidents in Munich in 2021. Three of these were attacks, two targeted property damage, ten threats and twelve mass mailings, these are emails with anti-Semitic content related to Israel. 22 of these incidents were also reported to the police.
“The Zionists were the model for the Nazis,” claimed a speaker at the open microphone of a gathering of pandemic deniers over a year ago. Just a few days later, a speaker on Königsplatz served up the conspiracy-ideological narrative that the corona pandemic and the vaccinations against it were part of a long-held plan by a global elite to reduce the world population, subdue people and install an “divine order”. According to Rias, he described the alleged “elite” with various anti-Semitic codes such as “the Rothschilds”.
The word “Injection Holocaust” could be read on a poster at an anti-vaccination event in December, while another showed the entrance gate to the Theresienstadt concentration camp with the text “Vaccination sets you free”. In March, the Munich district court imposed a fine of 130 daily rates of 15 euros for incitement to hatred. The subject of the process was a photomontage with the inscription “Work/vaccination sets you free” and two oversized syringes drawn on it.
“Anti-Semitism is a central ideological element of the corona protests,” writes the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, in the foreword to the current RIAS annual report. “Corona deniers, lateral thinkers and their anti-democratic networks” stylized themselves as supposedly persecuted victims who were being hunted by an allegedly all-powerful “world conspiracy”.
Rias registered a total of 48 Corona-related incidents in Munich last year, 18 of which took place outside of meetings. Slogans and symbols of the “QAnon” conspiracy narrative were and are to be observed again and again at rallies in Munich and in the Telegram groups mobilizing for this purpose. In his most recent report writes the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution: “They refer to anti-Semitic conspiracy motives such as the alleged ‘world conspiracy’ of a Jewish financial elite and take up the ritual murder legend, which also has anti-Jewish connotations.”
But Israel-related anti-Semitism also played a role in Munich – especially against the background of the Hamas terror against the Jewish state, which escalated again in May and June 2021. At a rally in Munich, for example, the end of Israel was predicted for the year 2040, at another the actions of the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip were equated with the Holocaust. 19 such incidents were reported to Rias last year.
“The angry mood that prevailed among the demonstrators shocked me,” reports teacher Alexandra Dratva, board member of the Rias sponsoring association, about a meeting in Munich. “Above all, the fact that I possibly go shopping together with people who wish for my death, ride the subway or even maybe teach their children every day, kept me constantly busy.” Most recently, at a pro-Palestinian rally over the weekend, the Jewish state’s right to exist was negated with the slogan “From the river to the sea.” A similar event has been booked again for next Saturday.
Consulate General targeted by enemies of Jews
The Munich police registered eight anti-Jewish crimes in the context of “foreign” or “religious ideology” in 2021. A 37-year-old Afghan who spat several times against the front door of the Munich synagogue on Jakobsplatz in November was arrested and sentenced to a fine of 40 daily rates will. According to Rias, the Israeli consulate general in Munich was exposed to anti-Semitic letters that also contained threats of death and rape.
In addition to the majority of these incidents involving perpetrators from the right-wing, conspiracy ideological or pro-Palestinian camps, anti-Semitism in everyday life also worries the Rias experts. Although they classified ten incidents as threats and two as targeted damage to property, many reports were below the criminal liability threshold, according to Rias Bayern. This shows “that anti-Semitism in Bavaria manifests itself as a relatively low-threshold everyday phenomenon” – for example at work, in educational institutions or in the living environment.
A strong increase was observed in the online area. At the beginning of December, the anti-Semitism commissioner of the Bavarian judiciary, senior public prosecutor Andreas Franck, had the apartment of a conspiracy ideologist in the Olympiadorf searched – the man is said to have insulted a top Bavarian politician in a telegram group with anti-Jewish terms.
Ukraine war as a pretext
According to Rias findings, a large part of the anti-Semitic content (178 cases) came from people who could not be assigned to any political or ideological group. This shows how widespread anti-Semitism is in society as a whole and thus also in the “bourgeois middle”. “Anti-Semitism is, quite simply, for many a tried and tested means of articulating dissatisfaction.”
Meanwhile, the next big topic is already being treated anti-Semitically in Munich’s Telegram channels: Russians are the new Jews, they say. And one can read unchallenged in the channel of a Munich corona denier that Putin and Selensky “are all lying criminals who (…) promote globalism / world communism under Jewish interest slavery in every way”.