After a German government official warned Jewish citizens not to wear the traditional kippah cap in public, one leading German newspaper came out with a forceful rebuttal, as did the president of Israel.
“I cannot advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere, all the time, in Germany,” Felix Klein, Germany’s commissioner on anti-Semitism, said in an interview the Funke regional press group published Saturday. Klein said he had “alas, changed my mind compared to previously.”
Anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 20 percent in Germany last year, according to German data. There were 62 violent anti-Semitic attacks in 2018 compared to 37 in 2017, The Guardian reported.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said the Klein’s comment was “an admittance that, again, Jews are not safe on German soil,” the BBC reported, saying Rivlin was “shocked at the comment.”
“Fears about the security of German Jews are a capitulation to anti-Semitism,” said Rivlin. “We will never submit, will never lower our gaze and will never react to anti-Semitism with defeatism – and expect and demand our allies act in the same way.”
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Others agreed with him, including Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, and called for more citizens to wear the traditional Jewish kippah.
The opposite is true. Wear your kippa. Wear your friend’s kippa. Borrow a kippa and wear it for our Jewish neighbors. Educate people that we are a diverse society. https://t.co/vd9nV9AvPG
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) May 26, 2019
Non-Jewish Germans, go out and wear a kippah in public. Stand in solidarity with your 200,000 Jewish countrymen and defy Felix Klein’s recommendation. Show how far you’ve come from a country that once yelled “juden raus” and instead now yells, “#judenwilkommen.”
— Ben Rosenbach (@Rosenbach_Ben) May 27, 2019
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Klein said his commented reflected the reality of a time when “the lifting of inhibitions and the uncouthness which is on the rise in society” are stoking anti-Semitic actions.
“The internet and social media have largely contributed to this, but so have constant attacks against our culture of remembrance,” he said.
On Monday, the German newspaper Bild waded into the debate by publishing a cut-out kippah cap on its front page.
In a direct response to Klein, the newspaper urged Jewish and non-Jewish readers to cut out the Kippah and wear it everywhere, CNN reported.
“Wear it, so that your friends and neighbors can see it. Explain to your children what the kippah is,” wrote editor in chief Julian Reichelt. “Post a photograph with the kippah on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Go out onto the streets with it.”
Top German paper to print cutout kippah in solidarity with Jews https://t.co/HfP9PY9SRL
— Gabby Klein (@GabbyKlein1) May 27, 2019
Reichelt said Klein was wrong about his advice to Jews to abandon the kippah in public.
“To that, there is only one answer: No, that must not be the case. If it is so, and if it stays that way, then we have failed in the face of our history,” he wrote.
“If even one person in our country cannot wear the kippah without putting themselves in danger, then the only answer must be that we all wear the kippah. The kippah belongs to Germany!” he wrote.
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