Amidst fears of radicalization in the Muslim community, recently collected data suggests that 95% of antisemitic attacks in Germany were committed by right-wing extremists. According to figures presented last week to the German parliament, out of 1,275 incidents which occurred in 2013, neo-Nazis were considered responsible for 1,218 of them. The data also revealed a slight decrease in the number of attacks compared to 2012, yet no one is yet ready to declare this as a positive trend.
According to official records, only 31 attacks in 2013 were committed by people of a foreign background and the rest (26) were attributed to other offenders. This was the first year in over a decade in which no antisemitic attack was ascribed to left-wing radicals. Also in 2012, during which 1,374 attacks were committed, right-wing extremists were blamed for nearly all incidents, with only 38 cases traced back to foreigners, three to left-wing activists and 19 to other attackers. A similar distribution was found also in the years 2001-2011.
These figures were presented by the government in response to questions from leading Green party MP's. “I was a bit astonished to receive these results,” admitted Volker Beck, one of the MP's. “The feeling in the Jewish community, as well as my feeling, was that there were more Muslim antisemitic attacks, but the statistics doesn't support that. This just proves that we need to research the issue more and to get a better assessment of what threatens the security of Jewish people and Jewish institutions in Germany.”
Nevertheless, he emphasized that he data does not disprove the treat of radical Islam. “We've seen what happened in Brussels, Paris and Copenhagen, and those attackers were radical fundamentalists. Luckily that hasn't happened here yet. Although everyday antisemitic acts are more likely to be committed by right-wingers, Islamists still pose an antisemitic threat, even if this isn't reflected in the data yet.”
Public records also showed that 40 people were hurt in the attacks committed in 2013 (compared to 41 the year before), and following those incidents, 873 perpetrators (male and female) were arrested - of which 154 were under the age of 18. According to the data, seven of the arrested were 13-years-old and younger.
The data concerning 2013 resembled the figures that were recorded in the beginning of the decade, which marked a significant decline in the number of antisemitic attacks: In the nine years that proceeded it, the number of such incidents circulated an average of 1,635 events per year. More recent numbers also point to a minor decline in antisemitic attacks: A report published this week regarding such acts in Berlin, shows that their number also diminished in 2014.
ReachOut, a Berlin counselling center for victims of right, racist and antisemitic violence, recorded last year 179 attacks, which targeted 266 people. This indicated a slight decrease compared to the 185 attacks in 2013, when 288 people were threatened or even injured. Yet at the center, the figures aren't seen as encouraging. “This is not a trend,” they insisted. “The number of attacks in 2013 was simply the highest number we ever recorded in Berlin. The previous record was 165 attacks in 2006.”
Beck also agreed, referring to official records: “This data is insufficient to determine whether there had been an actual decline recently. Sometimes the numbers go up just because the police was more active in a certain period of time. In my opinion, what better mirrors the situation are the studies concerning attitudes in German society, and those have shown a very slow but steady decrease in antisemitic views among Germans.”
Yet the ReachOut center pointed out a different problem. According to its report most of the attacks took place in public: last year 107 crimes (121 in 2013) occurred in the streets, squares and at bus stops and 37 (42 in 2013) were committed on board public transportation and in railway stations. “In many of the cases the other passengers watched the attack without helping,” noticed Sabine Seyb of the center. “Policy makers should launch a campaign which would encourage witnesses to intervene and thus better protect those who are threatened.”