In an interview with an Israeli TV channel, the German chancellor said she was “saddened” her country had not been able to snuff out antisemitism for good, and lamented the fact Jewish schools, kindergartens and synagogues needed police protection.
“We have refugees now, for example, or people of Arab origin, who bring a different type of antisemitism into the country,” she said during the interview. “But unfortunately, antisemitism existed before this.”
Her comments came after an antisemitic attack on two young men wearing Jewish skullcaps on the streets of Berlin.
One of the victims, a 21-year-old Arab Israeli, caught the assault on video and the footage quickly went viral as it reopened a debate about antisemitism in Germany.
The video shows the attacker whipping the man with a belt while shouting “Yehudi!” or “Jew!” in Arabic.
The victim, Adam Armoush, said he was not Jewish but wore the skullcap as an experiment because he did not believe a friend who said it was too dangerous to wear one in public in Germany.
On Thursday, a 19-year-old Syrian asylum seeker turned himself in to police after investigators identified him as a suspect.
Following the attack, Ms Merkel vowed the government would respond “with full force and resolve” against antisemitism.
It led Germany’s main Jewish leader to advise people visiting big cities against wearing Jewish skullcaps.
Josef Schuster, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, told broadcaster Radioeins wearing a skullcap was right in principle, but said he was advising individuals “against showing themselves openly with a kippa in a big-city setting in Germany, and wear a baseball cap or something else to cover their head instead.”
Mr Schuster suggested three years ago that Jews should not wear skullcaps in areas with large Muslim populations. But he stressed there was also increasing antisemitic sentiment among non-migrants.
Last year, there were 947 antisemitic incidents in Berlin, including 18 attacks and 23 threats, according to the RIAS group, which tracks discrimination against Jews.
Several Jewish students have reported antisemitic bullying in schools in recent months and Israeli flags were burned during a recent protest in the capital city.
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