Situation report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution: Anti-Semitism increased in the pandemic

As of: 04/20/2022 5:01 p.m

According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, anti-Semitism in Germany increased significantly during the corona pandemic. Conspiracy narratives, Holocaust belittling and criticism of Israel are no longer just spreading on the political fringes.

According to estimates by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, anti-Semitic ideas are penetrating the mainstream of society. It is “frightening that anti-Semitic narratives can sometimes be connected to the middle of German society,” said the President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, on the occasion of the publication of the current one situational picture of anti-Semitism.

Conspiracy narratives at Corona protests

Anti-Semitism is no longer just a phenomenon on the fringes of society, but serves as a “link between social discourse and extremist ideologies,” said Haldenwang. “We have increasingly seen this in the protests against the corona protection measures or at rallies about the Middle East conflict and are currently also seeing it occasionally in connection with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”

According to the report, new forms of anti-Semitism emerged during the pandemic. It is often a matter of “coded anti-Semitism” that “embeds the pandemic in an ideological conspiracy argument”. It is about “a secret, world-controlling power using the pandemic as an instrument to implement its plan for a ‘New World Order'”.

With the start of vaccinations against Covid-19 at the end of 2020, the sometimes anti-Semitic agitation gained in importance. Vaccination opponents claimed, for example, that Jews were “now trying to use vaccinations to realize their plans to gain power over humanity”.

In addition, there is an increasingly open expression of Israel-related anti-Semitism in all milieus, as well as attacks on the culture of remembrance. For example, “anti-Semitic narratives” would be taken up by equating the Nazi persecution of the Jews and the Holocaust with state measures to combat the pandemic and thus playing them down, for example by using the yellow star with the inscription “Unvaccinated”.

Internet as a “dynamic factor”

According to the situation report, the shift of anti-Semitic agitation to the digital sphere, which has been going on for years, was also intensified by the pandemic. According to the report, the Internet offers “a multitude of opportunities to exchange and spread right-wing extremist and anti-Semitic ideas, including violent terrorist fantasies and plans, relatively undisturbed”.

“The Internet serves as a breeding ground and represents a significant dynamizing factor in current anti-Semitism,” explained Haldenwang. In addition to certain right-wing extremist Internet platforms and forums, the messenger service Telegram is “conspicuously frequently used to disseminate anti-Semitic posts”. He thus contributes “to the consolidation of an anti-Semitic worldview, at least among his users”.

High number of unreported crimes suspected

The number of anti-Semitic crimes listed in the police statistics is constantly increasing, said Haldenwang. However, it can be assumed that this is only “the tip of the iceberg”. “The dark field is much larger, i.e. those incidents that are not reported in the first place for various reasons”. In 2020, the police authorities nationwide registered 2,351 anti-Semitic crimes – an increase of more than 15 percent compared to the previous year.

The report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution only examines anti-Semitism in its manifestations relevant to the protection of the Constitution. It was first introduced in July 2020. The assessment at the time that anti-Semitism can be found in all extremist phenomena remains valid, the statement said.

Ideological cornerstone in right-wing extremism

According to the report, anti-Semitism continues to be most relevant in right-wing extremism, where it is one of the ideological cornerstones. Overall, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution comes to the conclusion that the right-wing party “propagates its anti-Semitism most openly of all right-wing extremist parties.”

Different positions can be identified in the camp of the so-called New Right. One group sees itself “in a Christian-Jewish tradition” that needs to be defended against Islam and Islamism. Another group is critical of Israel and sees the “main ideological enemy” more in liberalism than in Islamism.

The anti-Semitic ideology spread by Islamists also “poses a considerable challenge to peaceful and tolerant coexistence in the Federal Republic”. An accumulation of anti-Semitic incidents in May 2021 also shows that an escalation of the Middle East conflict in Germany in particular “can lead to a significant emotionalization of the Muslim population and even to violent attacks”.

Faeser wants to step up the fight against anti-Semitism

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser promised more protection for Jews in Germany. It is a “disgrace for our country how much anti-Semitic hate speech and contempt for human beings are still being spread today”. It was “shameful how the genocide of European Jews was downplayed by some corona deniers who attach a yellow star to themselves”.

The SPD politician called for anti-Semitic crimes to be prosecuted “with great determination”. The fight against anti-Semitism is also a “task for us as a society,” she explained. “We therefore want to massively strengthen political education and the prevention of extremism – also to remove the breeding ground for often anti-Semitic conspiracy myths.”

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