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Anti-Semitic Incidents Rise in Germany, Most from Far Right
By Israel Hayom
Anti-Semitic crimes in Germany last year reached their highest level since the country
started keeping statistics, amid an overall strong increase in right-extremist criminality
that is a cause for "great concern," Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Wednesday.
Overall, politically-motivated crimes were up 14.2% in 2019 over the previous year, which
is the second-highest level since authorities began tracking such crimes in 2001, Seehofer
told reporters in Berlin. Crimes by the extreme left rose the most, increasing 23.7% to
9,849, but the majority of politically motivated crimes were from the extreme Right, with
22,342 cases and an increase of 9.4%.
At the same time, crimes linked to a foreign ideology dropped 23.7% to 1,897 and those
motivated by a religious ideology fell 27.5% to 425. "The largest threat, as in the past,
is the threat from the Right," Seehofer said. "Extreme-right politically motivated cases
make up more than half of all of such recorded crimes it is an order of magnitude
that causes us concern, great concern."
Nearly 40% of all political crimes were classified as "propaganda crimes" such as
displaying banned symbols like the swastika. Violent crime dropped 15.9% to 2,832 cases.
Of particular note was a 13% increase in anti-Semitic crimes to 2,032, more than 93% of
which were attributed to the far Right. Similarly, anti-Muslim crimes rose 4.4% to 950,
more than 90% at the hands of a far-right perpetrator.
Seehofer said right-wing extremists had left a "trail of blood" across Germany in recent
years, noting the attack on a synagogue in Halle last year in which the gunman was
prevented from entering the building but killed two people on the street, a February
attack in Hanau in which a gunman killed nine people of foreign background, and the murder
last June of a regional politician who supported Merkel's welcoming policy toward
migrants. "We have every reason to continue with the greatest vigilance here," he said.
Charlotte Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor and German Jewish leader, said the increase in
anti-Semitic crimes was "no longer surprising" and that she was particularly worried about
how visible it had become in recent years. She suggested it was being fanned by the
success of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which is the largest opposition
party nationally with seats in every state parliament although it has seen support
slip below 10% in recent polls.
"Various extremist groups have played their part in making this anti-Semitism socially
acceptable," Knobloch said in a statement. "Above all, the so-called Alternative for
Germany." She said the coronavirus pandemic has created a new platform for anti-Semitism,
and called on authorities to crack down on conspiracy theories being spread over the
Seehofer said authorities, accused in the past of downplaying right-wing activity, are not
"blind in the right eye" and have taken action to combat the trend. He noted that the
country's domestic intelligence last year increased surveillance of the Alternative for
Germany, particularly focusing on its youth arm and a faction known as "The Wing," which
has downplayed the country's Nazi past and suggested it might pursue "revolutionary" means
to achieve its political aims. He said the decision has been "highly effective" but has
not "wiped the ideas off the table."
Security services have also turned more attention to followers of the so-called Reich
Citizens movement, whose philosophy rejects the current German state order and overlaps
with far-right extremist groups. On Wednesday, police raided more than two dozen homes
tied to 31 suspected members of the movement, believed to have been involved with forged
passports, driving licenses and citizenship certificates, prosecutors in Stuttgart and
Seehofer said officials were also systematically checking out movement members who have
permits for weapons revoking 790 since 2016, including 380 last year and
would continue to do so. "According to our information there are still some 500 Reich
Citizens permitted to hold weapons," he said. "I'm saying here that every weapon allowed
is one too many."
Anti-Semitism Examined as a Social Virus in New PBS Documentary
By The Jewish News of California
Any person who follows the news knows that anti-Semitism is on the rise around the
world. As it has spread, so has our insight that this is a hatred with many faces, a
many-headed monster fed by myths about Jews that will not die.
Its more violent manifestations defacements of Jewish cemeteries, street attacks,
armed assaults on Jewish institutions are often referred to as "outbreaks," as if
anti-Semitism were a disease. Indeed, the phrase "virulent anti-Semitism" is often used to
describe the manifold expressions of that ideology. And as with a contagious disease,
humanity must marshal all its informational resources to have any hope of defeating it.
That is the concept of "Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations," a probing new PBS
documentary. "Our thought was that much of anti-Semitism spreads on the internet it
goes viral, in that sense," director-producer Andrew Goldberg said recently. "But illness
as a metaphor for anti-Semitism has been used for a long time."
The film opens with a black-and-white animation of what looks to be virus cell activity
under a microscope. "It started long ago
with a lie about the Jew," the voiceover
by actress Julianna Margulies explains. "The lie said the Jew was evil
the enemy of God. The lie evolved and spread like a virus
and still does.
Many don't know they're infected. Others don't care. Some define themselves by it. The
virus has endured for so long and spread so far because of its power to adapt and deceive.
Of its thousands of mutations, this is the story of four."
The film then launches into the first of four segments, looking at the American strain. In
Pittsburgh, Goldberg examines the significance of the assault on the Tree of Life
synagogue, then heads to North Carolina, where he engages with Russell Walker, an open
racist and anti-Semite who got 37% of his district's vote when he ran for the state House
of Representatives in 2018.
Other segments examine state-sponsored anti-Semitism in Hungary under the government of
Prime Minister Viktor Orban; the rise of anti-Semitism in England within the leftist
Labour Party under past leader Jeremy Corbyn; and beliefs about Jews among some North
African immigrants in France. In the latter case, those beliefs have conjoined with
growing disaffection with global capitalism among the French Left, resulting in an
atmosphere harshly inhospitable to French Jews.
Goldberg travels to each of these locales to interview victims, witnesses, anti-Semites
and experts with his low-key, seemingly neutral style eliciting inside knowledge,
alarm and, sometimes, acute pain. A number of commentators are called upon to add
information and perspective. This list includes former President Bill Clinton, former
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt, and journalists
Fareed Zakaria, George Will and Yair Rosenberg of Tablet.
"Anti-Semitism is a conspiracy theory," Lipstadt says of the penchant for anti-Semites to
blame Jews for just about everything based on "the notion that there are forces more
powerful than you."
Based on his own experiences as a former white supremacist, Arno Michael agrees. "If I'm
looking to recruit, I'm going to look for white kids who have something going wrong in
and find a way to blame that on the Jews," he says in the documentary.
But after 90 minutes of examination, one is left with the sense that the film has but
skimmed the surface of a bottomless black hole.
In "Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations," Rabbi Elisar Admon shows the hole where a
bullet pierced his prayer book during the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.
"It went right through the word for God," he said.
Goldberg, 52, has pursued the subject of prejudice throughout his career, from his
Emmy-winning "A Yiddish World Remembered" in 2002 (a look at the world of Eastern European
Jews before the Holocaust) to a well-received documentary about the Armenian genocide. He
also wrote, produced and directed "Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century: The Resurgence,"
which covered the history of anti-Semitism in Europe. It aired on PBS in 2017.
In the British segment of "Viral," Goldberg visits Paul Marmot, an English cousin whom he
had never met. Marnot recounts how, after a lifetime as a leftist British Jew, he tore up
his Labour Party membership card when Corbyn was chosen as its leader in 2015. Critiques
of Israeli policy are acceptable to most British Jews, he says, but Corbyn enabled
criticism that crossed over into anti-Jewish sentiment.
Meanwhile, on our shores, Goldberg, who lost extended family members in the Holocaust,
takes note of how anti-Semitism in the U.S. has been getting worse over the past dozen
years. By the time 11 Jews were gunned down in October 2018 in a synagogue in Pittsburgh
"the most anti-Semitic act I'd seen in this country in my two decades as a
journalist," he said this film project was already underway. In his view,
anti-Jewish sentiment in the non-Jewish world is always "only a couple of centimeters
below the surface" at any given time, though social forces may push it down.
"The biggest mute button on anti-Semitism was the Holocaust itself," he said, adding that
it led to "better behavior" toward Jews in most of the Western world for more than 50
years. "And the precursor [to those prejudices surfacing] is societies becoming more
polarized." Another factor, he said, is that fewer Holocaust survivors are around to give
firsthand testimony about how unchecked anti-Semitism branches off into utter horror.
In the France portion of "Viral," Goldberg interviews a brother of the shooter in the 2015
assault on the Hyper Cacher kosher grocery in Paris. Asked to describe the motivations of
his jihadist brother, Abdel Ghani Merah describes the North African immigrant milieu of
their parents, who brought to France a post-colonial belief that Western nations, Israel
and global Jewry were allied against the Arab world.
"Hatred of Jews was legitimate in my parents' eyes," he says, while distancing himself
from that view (in fact, he has committed his life to countering anti-Semitism). "If they
failed at something or were rejected, right away it was somehow a Jew's fault. They owned
A final word is given to the widow of Philippe Braham, one of four French Jews killed in
the attack on Hyper Cacher, a kosher supermarket in Paris. "We don't walk in the streets
easily like we used to," she says. "I won't let my sons wear the kippah. I won't say their
names out loud." Valerie Braham then adds: "For me it's just pointless hatred of the Jews.
There are no real reasons."
For those who see it, will this film provide some kind of vaccine, so to speak, against
anti-Semitism? That is the perennial hope the panacea we are all wait
Matchmaking in a Time of Corona
By Israel Hayom
If there's any good news that the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it for the
ultra-Orthodox sector, it's in the world of matchmaking. The virus, and the economic
crisis that came with it, has lowered the "prices" of eligible Orthodox bachelors by
hundreds of thousands of shekels, and according to experts - that drop in prices is here
"In the Orthodox matchmaking world it is widely accepted to 'pay' well for an eligible
groom," says Chaim, 22, a student at the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, himself of matchmaking
age. "The thing most of the serious prodigies ['iluim'] in the yeshivas want is a 'full
deal', an all-encompassing arrangement. Meaning, a new apartment in a good location -
Jerusalem or Bnei Brak - furniture and everything, without the groom needing to worry
about all the economic stuff, so he can just study Torah quietly. The numbers skyrocketed,
and of course only the wealthy could afford such a prodigy at those numbers."
Those days ended when the pandemic started. Nowadays even the wealthy Orthodox are finding
it difficult to spend more than a million shekels for a prodigy groom. "The grooms' market
has witnessed a sharp economic downturn of hundreds of thousands of shekels a groom," says
Eli Tsoran, 37, a veteran Orthodox matchmaker. "I believe this downturn won't be reversed
any time soon. Once the prices went down, I'm not sure they'll go back to what they were."
According to Tsoran, many in the Orthodox community are happy with this apparent trend
brought on by the virus. "The demand for huge amounts between the sides has become more
balanced. Many families that asked for NIS 800,000 for an eligible groom are now talking
about NIS 500,000. People understood that the sector needs to be more logical if they want
to marry their kids.
"The virus has given hope to many families of lesser means to get a good match. The public
understood that the world is fighting a pandemic that is hurting families and taking
people to another world, so all the financial management and demands have changed. And
once the demands were lowered - they won't go back to what they were before the virus so
fast. Many matches that are beginning now have started with more reasonable prices than
Just like in the secular dating world, the Orthodox matchmaking world has seen many
changes during the pandemic. But in the case of this conservative sector, these are
extreme changes that no one saw coming. "The matchmaking market has changed in so many
ways," says Sarah Pachter, who owns an ad agency in the Orthodox sector and is a mother of
11 children. "I'm not a professional matchmaker, but I meet with people in the sector and
occasionally do some matchmaking. I've made 18 matches so far, including my son," she
Q: So what has changed since the pandemic began? "The Orthodox matchmaking world was very
rigid," says Pachter, "there was a certain way how each match advanced, how it progressed,
where they met, etc. The virus shook that up, changed things, changes that, I hope, will
remain for a long time. For example, the first meeting between young Orthodox people
usually took place in the girl's home. During the pandemic no one wanted to enter a
stranger's house, so the youngsters went alone to a park for the first date, and only
after they were matched - their parents met on Zoom or talked on the phone.
"If not at a home, matchmaking meetings occurred before the pandemic in hotel lobbies, in
Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Now, without any other option, they meet in nature, open parks.
There are many boys and girls who met this way in the past few months, and it only did
them good. Even now, as restrictions are eased, this has remained. The market isn't as
rigid as before."
According to Pachter, the most significant change recently has to do with what happens
after the match is sealed, when the couple agree to marry. "Up until the pandemic, usually
a race began that would last for three to four months to secure a large hall with at least
400-500 guests, and usually much more, a big band, a camera crew, decorations and
"Suddenly now people have learned you can have small modest weddings in the yard of a
home, or somewhere green, and it's just as pretty as a huge and crowded wedding - and also
saves thousands of shekels if not more. Today I see people getting their children engaged,
when there are already fewer restrictions, and they still aren't planning on huge weddings
like before the pandemic. I hope it stays that way. It's a significant financial relief
for many families with a lot of children."
Reuven Paul, 50, a well-known figure in the Orthodox sector and a veteran volunteer in the
Hatzalah organization, get his son engaged three weeks ago during the peak of the virus.
The whole matchmaking process took place during the pandemic. "The custom is to have the
first date in a hotel lobby, but since the hotels are closed, the dates were held in the
home of an American family in Jerusalem, with a large garden, and there the couple felt
free and relaxed. It was a good solution for all, they felt at ease in the garden," says
Paul says he's been speaking over the past few days with Orthodox friends, who like him
are about to marry their children. "I have quite a few friends who got their kids engaged
in recent weeks. I see some of them have internalized the virus and some haven't. Some
still live in a bubble and think that the bigger the event they have - the more they will
be 'worth.' Those kinds of people haven't changed, but I think most of my friends have.
They're happy the Orthodox have realized that you can have different weddings, much more
According to Paul, there's a sharp drop in wedding budgets, a result of the financial
crisis the pandemic has caused. "The million-dollar question is will it stay like this
next year and beyond. Personally, I think the economic shift in how events are held will
remain. Even if the virus will disappear completely, people will continue to look, like
me, for smaller and more familial places, to hold beautiful events in.
"Usually, when you have a huge wedding and forget to invite someone - he's insulted.
You're always under pressure, who did I forget to invite? But when you have a 'corona
wedding', it's not relevant anymore. Everyone knows why you didn't invite them, because
you're having a small wedding with less family, and that's it. I think these weddings will
catch on. There's something nice about a small wedding in a more relaxed setting.
"The virus simply opened up new channels in the brain. Up until the pandemic, even people
who didn't have money would say 'I need to have a big wedding.' Today, even wealthy
Orthodox say 'What do we need all of this for?'"
Tsoran the matchmaker agrees: "The financial crisis, in the current reality, has left many
families with no income. Suddenly I'm hearing families tell me 'Let's do modest weddings
with 50 people, what's wrong with that?' A wedding with a singer and keyboard instead of a
band with seven horns, and in a marque or on a roof instead of a ritzy hall. "What did one
mother say to me? The young couple only need themselves at the wedding. The guests and all
the hubbub around don't add a thing, it's just so the parents feel good. So it's better to
have a small and modest event.'"
Dalia Kurtzweil, 43, is a Chabad emissary together with her husband in Dnipro, Ukraine.
From there she works in matchmaking, mostly inside the Chabad community, with a resume
chock full of matches. Now she believes the changes in the Orthodox matchmaking market
during the pandemic will be the new norm.
Kurtzweil's job, especially these days, is more difficult than the usual Orthodox
matchmaker, since a large part of matchmaking in the Chabad community is between Chabadnik
families in various countries, when at times the young couple will be sent as emissaries
to a third country. In the past few months, with international flight halted, the mission
became even more challenging.
"And despite everything, it happens. There are match offers, and there are meetings
between young Orthodox people from different countries - by Zoom or WhatsApp videos. True,
it's not easy, and many would prefer a real meeting, but that's what we have right now,
and many are doing it. Others ask to wait until this period is over. In Israel it's
easier, because there were solutions for a real meeting during lockdown, as well. If one
of the couple was, for example, an essential worker he could go to another city to meet,
in the permitted fashion, of course."
Kurtzweil mentions another surprising advantage that appeared during the pandemic: "When
everyone was locked up in the house and many didn't work, the young ones had more time to
choose and check the match offers they got. It's a change that permeated because of the
situation, and I hope it stays."
Q: Did families seal matches only through Zoom meetings? "No. I don't know any couple who
sealed a match only through Zoom. No one is expected to make a life-changing decision on a
Q: Did you manage to "seal a match" during the pandemic? "I got a few couples connected
over the past few weeks, also from different countries, and they are in a process. But
there are a lot of calls, certainly. People have changed their lives because of the
coronavirus, they're less in the rat race, and they're more available to hear about match
offers. That was a big problem in the past, that people were so busy with work and career,
they couldn't hear. Now, after sitting at home for so long, alone, they understand it
might be time to hear some offers, to see what's out there.
"These times changed a lot for me. Until today I couldn't really meet the people I try to
match, because of my living abroad, and it was all done by phone. Think about it: I barely
knew who was on the other end of the line, and I was already offering matches. Since the
pandemic, the Zoom calls for matchmaking became something reasonable, and now I meet every
evening on video people who talk to me, tell me about themselves, their dreams and wishes
of who to marry, and I feel them up close.
"I definitely feel the pandemic brought a lot of change to matchmaking: less technical
name-sharing between possible candidates, and more emotional bonding between the
matchmaker and the candidates, in a way that makes it easier for them to find a match.
Even the candidates have more time to think about who they want to meet. They had a lot of
time to feel lonely and in need, and I believe this will bring many of them to think
differently, to agree to things they probably wouldn't have agreed to compromise on before
when it comes to a partner. Now they look at things differently, they understand they're
being offered lovely people, and it's a pity to be stubborn."
Chaim Scheller, a known matchmaking consultant in the modern Orthodox sector, which
includes the national Orthodox and national religious, says the virus actually stopped the
matchmaking in the public he works with. "This group is basically more open and relaxed,
and the virus blocked them. You tell a yeshiva boy to meet by telephone or on an app, and
for him it doesn't really work.
"So I waited for things to return to normal, so I could organize face-to-face meetings. I
believe in real, in-person courting, and less so in phone calls or Zoom, which I believe
lead to nothing. The possibility for a first meeting between humans doesn't happen in
Zoom, just like learning through Zoom is nothing like it is in normal life. In matches
like that the sides are just 'floating', they don't feel like it's a real meeting.
"But I did make a match during the pandemic, it started before, and was on solid footing.
There was also another match I offered, who wanted to meet, but couldn't find where. So I
organized especially for him a certain ice cream parlor to open up in Tel Aviv, so he
Q: If I understand correctly, there is a huge bottleneck of candidates in the modern
Orthodox community that will open immediately when everyone gets on the market after the
virus. "That's an issue that bothers me, but don't forget that people are looking for the
best, and it's a process that takes time, so there might not be a gridlock of Orthodox
people waiting to get married. And I won't start to suddenly organize meetings now, after
the virus, 900 couples at once. For me the pandemic was a time that let me get to know my
clients better, to try and make matches and organize meetings that will take place now -
with the return to normal."
Another innovation that came with the pandemic: "balcony matchmaking." During the lockdown
when meetings were forbidden, the Orthodox mind came up with creative solutions such as
matches between neighbors in the same building. According to the Orthodox matchmakers,
it's a trend that might continue after the pandemic. "People understand they don't always
have to look far," says Pachter, "sometimes a match is on the other side of the door."
Pachter thinks the sector will see many more similar matches, even when things go back to
normal. "Matches between neighbors were once less acceptable amongst the Orthodox, but the
pandemic made us get used to quite a few new things."
Kurtzweil: "I also know a couple who live close by in Kfar Chabad and met in one of the
grandparents' homes, in a quiet room. It was lovely. And there was another time two young
neighbors, also from Kfar Chabad, that for some reason no one thought to match them, but
now, after the pandemic opened people's minds, their acquaintances said: 'Why are we
looking far?' - And they offered each other. And they sealed the match.
"The pandemic created a situation where people are willing to hear offers they may not
have heard before. The young want to marry, and they have learned now to look for the more
positive things in each other, and not the drawbacks. The fact that people are there and
aren't being told whether they can or can't make aliyah is a disgrace. This insanity has
to stop," the activist said.
The criteria for aliyah include the applicants being descendants of Jews, confirmation
from community elders or religious leaders, membership in a recognized community made up
of people who were forced to convert to other religions or who suffer from anti-Semitic
persecution, and a desire to return to Judaism and undergo conversion.
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