HAMBURG: A German man dressed in military fatigues attacked and severely injured a Jewish student outside a synagogue in the German city of Hamburg, according to police.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas denounced the Hamburg attack as anti-Semitic, saying anti-Semitic attacks are not isolated incidents.
Almost exactly a year ago, a white-supremacist targeted a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle on the holiest day in Judaism, Yom Kippur. The congregation inside only narrowly escaped a massacre.
According to reports, the suspect in the recent Hamburg case wore military clothes reminiscent of the outfit of the neo-Nazi attacker in Halle.
People were marking the Jewish holiday of Sukkot when security guards and police officers deployed to the Hamburg synagogue arrested the 29 year old man, taking him into police custody. The suspect, a German with Kazakh roots was carrying a piece of paper with a swastika in his pocket, the German news agency DPA reported.
The victim suffered grave head wounds and was admitted to a local hospital for treatment, according to the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. According to German media, his injuries, although serious are not life-threatening.
“This is not an isolated incident, this is disgusting anti-Semitism and we must all oppose it!” Maas wrote on Twitter.
Germany has seen the number of anti-Semitic crimes nearly double in the past three years. Last year alone, the government recorded 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes, culminating in the attack on the synagogue in Halle on Oct. 9.
A new survey by the World Jewish Congress found that a quarter of the German population have what they call ‘anti-Semitic thoughts’. Another 41 percent think that Jews talk too much about the Holocaust, the representative survey of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), reported in German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, showed.
Yet every fourth interviewee considered it possible that “something like the Holocaust can repeat itself in Germany today”.
The overwhelming majority of the population furthermore sees growing anti-Semitism as a trend, and associates it with the success of right-wing extremist parties.
The President of the World Jewish Congress believes that anti-Semitism has reached a crisis point in Germany.
“It is time for the whole of German society to take a stand and fight anti-Semitism head-on,” he said.
Following Sunday’s attack, Jewish organizations in Germany and beyond pressed the government for increased protection and a greater focus on long-term strategies to effectively weed out anti-Semitism.
“I am saddened to learn that once again, this time on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a German Jewish community is confronting a violent, anti-Semitic act of terror,” Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said in a statement. “We must ask ourselves, and German local and national authorities must address the question — why does this keep happening? Why is anti-Semitism thriving?”
“The German government must take responsibility in strengthening education so that the next generation understands that hatred of any kind is never permissible,” Mr. Lauder added. “The long-term viability of Jewish life in Germany depends on it.”