Police investigating arson attack on Israeli-owned bar in Berlin


(JTA) — Police are investigating an arson attack at an Israeli-owned Berlin bar that has been the repeated target of anti-Semitic harassment.

The most recent incident took place early on the morning of Aug. 14. Local residents alerted the fire department that they smelled smoke at the Morgen Wird Besser (“Tomorrow will be better”) bar. No one was injured in the fire, which police described as arson.

A spokesperson for the Department for Research and Information on Antisemitism Berlin, or RIAS, told JTA in an email that investigators found graffiti in the bar after the fire, including a Star of David and the number 28. That number signifies the second and eighth letters of the alphabet, which represent the “Blood & Honour” slogan of the Nazi-era Hitler Youth organization.

“The owner is a Jewish Israeli who has been the target of anti-Semitic hostilities by local right-wing extremists in the past,” the spokesperson said.

At a solidarity rally called by the Lichtenberg Anti-Fascist Network on Tuesday, the bar’s owner, who has not been named in the press, said he would not close shop, despite the repeated threats. According to RBB radio, some 200 people showed up for the rally against anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism.

According to Berlin Tagesspiegel, the owner opened a restaurant in Berlin’s Lichtenberg district in 2012 and turned it into a bar in 2014. From the start, he dealt with threats, break-ins and intimidation by neo-Nazis. A skinhead who regularly patronized the bar once told him: “You Jews are like cockroaches.” Anti-foreigner stickers have also been found in the bar.

The most recent threatening phone call came several days before the arson attack. The caller allegedly said, “I want you gone.”

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