Despite COVID lockdowns, anti-Semitic incidents rise in Berlin


(JTA) — The number of anti-Semitic incidents documented in Berlin last year increased by 13% over 2019, despite the city’s multiple COVID-19 lockdowns that have kept people at home.

Berlin’s Research and Information Center Antisemitism, or RIAS, recorded 1,004 anti-Semitic incidents in the German capital last year, 118 more than there were in 2019, RIAS wrote in a report published this week.

RIAS was able to ascertain a motive in 49% of the cases it recorded in 2020. Of that portion, 27% was attributable to the far right. Almost 9% of the incidents were classified as connected to a conspiracy theory. Israel-related anti-Semitism and Islamist incidents accounted for more than 7% of the cases and another 3% was “political,” RIAS wrote.

In one incident from Dec. 22, a rabbi’s home window was shattered.

In another, on Dec. 25, Christmas day, the perpetrators sprayed stars of David on residential homes, some of them owned by Jews, in the central Mitte area. They also wrote the word “Israel” on some of the apartments.

Conspiracy theories that place Jews as part of the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic have circulated among fringe anti-Semitic and other anti-lockdown groups in Germany and elsewhere. Anti-Semitic signs have been seen at anti-lockdown rallies in Berlin.

Of the incidents RIAS recorded, 17 were physical assaults, compared to the 33 incidents of that category recorded in 2019. But the number of cases of anti-Semitic vandalism increased from 28 in 2019 to 43 last year.

Also in 2020, RIAS recorded 51 public threats, compared to 59 in 2019, and 770 cases of verbal insults compared to 648 cases in 2019.

Anti-Semitic emails also increased from 103 in 2019 to 123 last year, RIAS wrote.

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