(JNS) The German Bundestag on Thursday passed legislation to establish a new commissioner to handle the issue of rising anti-Semitism in the country.
The bill was backed by several major German parties—including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Free Democrats—in an effort to implement a strategy to root out anti-Jewish sentiment and crime as part of a 17-point proposal.
According to the bill, the parties have stated that anti-Semitic crimes “could still mainly be attributed to the far right, but that migration from the Middle East and North Africa had exacerbated the problem,” the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.
Volker Kauder, the CDU’s parliamentary head, said that given Germany’s history, decisive action against anti-Semitism is a national priority. He said it is “shameful” that Jewish institutions need to be protected by police and that some German Jews are afraid to openly identify as Jewish in public.
“That’s something we can’t tolerate in our country,” Kauder told the German TV program Morgenmagazin.
Many Jewish community members and other observers attribute rising anti-Semitism in Germany to an influx of Muslim migrants hailing from countries with deep-rooted hatred of Jews and Israel, as well as the rise of far-right political parties. A study released last month by the American Jewish Committee, which was based on interviews with 68 migrants from Iraq and Syria as well as follow-up interviews with 85 additional respondents, found that anti-Semitic “thought patterns and stereotypes were very widespread throughout all the interviews.”
German Jewish leaders, who have long called for the new commissioner, praised the creation of the post.
“The lawmakers have sent a clear signal that they take the concerns of the Jewish community seriously,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in a statement. “The fight against anti-Semitism is a task for all of us.”
Schuster added that it is important to address the issue of anti-Semitism “whether it comes from the middle of society, from right-wing extremists, or Muslims and Israel-haters” such as activists from the BDS movement, which has also been growing in Germany.