Rabbi and six-year-old daughter attacked in Berlin

29 August 2012

A 53-year-old Jewish man and his six-year-old daughter have become victims of an anti-Semitic attack in downtown Berlin which was reportedly committed by four youth of Arab origin. The man had to be brought to hospital with wounds at his head. Reportedly, one of the youth asked the man, who wore a kippah: "Are you a Jew?" He then hit him on the head several times and insulted his religion and his mother. He also threatened to kill the six-year-old girl. According to the Jewish weekly 'Jüdische Allgemeine', the victim is a Berlin rabbi.

A special unit of Berlin police has begun investigations and said the incident would be treated as hate crime. Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit condemned the attack. He said: "Berlin is an international city in which intolerance, xenophobia and anti-Semitsm are not being tolerated. Police will undertake all efforts to find and arrest the perpetrators."

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, said in a reaction: "This despicable attack on Jews in the middle of our capital is outrageous and shocking. It is not just an evil attack on Jewry in Germany but an attack against all of us, and against our common values of tolerance and liberalism. It must not be downplayed. However, we Jews won't be intimidated by such callous attacks. We will continue vigorously to build our Jewish future in this country." Graumann expressed confidence that Berlin police would soon catch the perpetrators.

World Jewish Congress Vice President Charlotte Knobloch declared: "This brutal assault is terrible. The hatred the perpetrators have shown has shocked me and gives me great concern. After the attack in Toulouse this latest incident shows that in Germany, too, not only verbal but also violent anti-Semitism has again become a serious problem in our society."

European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said that after the Toulouse murders he had expected that either of two things would occur: “On the one hand it could have sent shock waves across Europe that there is a massive problem and it has to be dealt with, leading to a lessoning of these types of attacks. The other option was that the reaction would be meager and it would send a message to extremists that life continues as normal. Unfortunately, the second option seems to have prevailed.”

The spokesman of the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against anti-Semitism said the victim was "one of the first rabbis to be ordained in Germany after the Holocaust." He teaches religious studies at a Jewish school and has pushed for years for dialogue with Christians and Muslims.

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