Germany urged to create anti-Semitism panel


BERLIN (JTA) — Six nongovernmental organizations and academic institutes demanded that Germany keep its promise to create a commission to combat anti-Semitism.

"We want this [commission] to be more than just a hope; it must be a reality," Deidre Berger, head of the American Jewish Committee office in Berlin, said Thursday at a joint news conference with the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, the Anne Frank Center, Action Reconciliation Service for Peace, the Fritz Bauer Institute, Gegen Vergessen/Fuer Demokratie (Against Forgetting, For Democracy), and the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism.

The government did not respond.

At issue is a Bundestag resolution from last November. But with the parliament and Interior Ministry failing to assemble the panel, the project could be scratched when the new legislative period begins in the fall, the NGO members said.

In their position paper, they said the panel should deal with anti-Semitism from all groups and age levels, including classic far-right views, extremist anti-Israel positions and stereotypes brought by immigrants from some Arab countries. The latter must be addressed without painting Islam and Muslims with one brush, they said.

Levi Salomon, a representative of Berlin’s Jewish community specializing in anti-Semitism, told JTA there was "no way" he could support the NGOs since they failed to emphasize Muslim anti-Semitism. But Salomon, who also heads the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism, said  "we have no real empirical research" on anti-Semitism in that population.

Salomon’s forum endorsed a separate statement with the Coordinating Council of German Non-Governmental Organizations against Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Community of Berlin urging special attention to the "new, anti-Israeli anti-Semitism and the Islamic, genocidal anti-Semitism of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Critics noted that a Bundestag panel on anti-Semitism in Germany would not address problems in Iran.

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