German-Jewish leader calls for public response to anti-Semitic attack

BERLIN (JTA) — A Jewish leader in Germany called for lawmakers to publicly condemn an anti-Semitic attack that occurred in Berlin.

Deidre Berger, head of the American Jewish Committee office in Berlin, said in a statement Monday that it is unacceptable that no politicians have publicly responded to the April 25 incident, in which a 31-year-old Israeli man living in Berlin was encircled and beaten outside his apartment by six young men who identified themselves as Palestinians.

“Especially today, on Yom Hashoah, it has to be made clear that anti-Semitism and violent hatred can have no place in this society,” Berger said, adding that she trusted the Berlin police “to do everything possible to identify the perpetrators as soon as possible.”

Berger added that programs that combat anti-Semitism among youth of Arab and Turkish background must be given support.

“This problem must no longer be swept under the rug,” she said.

The victim in the incident said he left his apartment with a female companion. He told police that a group of six young men accosted him verbally, then encircled him and punched him in the face. According to news reports, the woman was not attacked.

The victim, who was treated for facial wounds in a nearby hospital, reported that the same young men had approached him the day before and asked about his nationality, to which he responded that he was an Israeli citizen. In Arabic, they said they were Palestinian and proceeded to curse out Israel.

In August 2012, Berlin-based Rabbi Daniel Alter was brutally beaten in broad daylight by a group of youths who also threatened to kill his young daughter. The youths, believed to be of Middle Eastern origin, had first asked if Alter, who wore a yarmulke, was Jewish. He required surgery to repair a broken cheekbone.

Two weeks later, Jewish schoolgirls in Berlin were subjected to an anti-Semitic verbal hazing by teenage girls, who also were described as being of Middle Eastern origin.

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