Germany’s Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck criticized Muslim groups while expressing concern over rising antisemitism in Germany and calling for tough consequences for people committing antisemitic acts.
“Antisemitism is not to be tolerated in any form,” Habeck said Wednesday evening in a speech posted on X. “The extent of the Islamist demonstrations in Berlin and other cities in Germany is unacceptable and requires a tough political response.”
Antisemitic acts — such as burning the Israeli flag — are a crime, Habeck said, and those committing them will have to face the consequences.
“Anyone who is German will have to answer for it in court. If you’re not German, you also risk your residency status,” Habeck said in the video, which by Thursday morning had racked up more than 4.2 million views. “Anyone who doesn’t have a residence permit provides a reason to be deported.”
Habeck, from Germany’s Green party, also called out German Muslim associations for failing to speak out. While some have distanced themselves from antisemitism and Palestinian militant group Hamas’ violent attack on Israel, he said, it was “not all of them, and some are too hesitant and I think overall too few.”
But antisemitism is present across Germany’s political spectrum, he said. Among the far right, but also in “parts of the political left” and “among young activists,” he said.
“Anti-colonialism must not lead to antisemitism,” Habeck said. “In this respect, this part of the political left should review its arguments and be skeptical of the great resistance narrative.”
Habeck reiterated that there is “no place in Germany for religious intolerance,” evoking Germany’s historic responsibility to protect the Jewish community.
He added: “The responsibility of our history also asserts that Jews can live freely and safely in Germany. That they never again have to fear to show their religion, their culture openly. But precisely this fear is now back.”
Germany has stood out in Europe as a fierce ally of Israel since Hamas attacked Israelis last month, killing more than 1,400 people. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly backed Israel’s right to defend itself.
Domestically, German authorities have been cracking down on pro-Palestinian protests, prohibiting all Hamas-linked activities and threatening to prosecute anyone involved in similar demonstrations.
On Thursday, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser banned the activities of both Hamas and the Samidoun association, a pro-Palestinian group. Samidoun’s German sub-organization, Samidoun Germany, will also be also dissolved.
“With Hamas, I have today completely banned the activities of a terrorist organization that aims to destroy the state of Israel,” Faeser said in a statement.
The Samidoun group, an international network, has spread antisemitic propaganda “under the guise of a ‘solidarity organization’ for prisoners,” Faeser said. “In doing so, Samidoun also supported and glorified various foreign terrorist organizations, including Hamas.”
Habeck’s concern over growing antisemitic feelings has been mirrored in other European countries, notably France — home to the largest Jewish population in Europe — where there has been a rise in the number of antisemitic acts since the Hamas attacks sparked overwhelming retaliatory airstrikes and ground operations from Israel in Gaza.
Wilhelmine Preussen contributed reporting.
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