German intel agency warns antisemitism is filtering into mainstream discourse
According to estimates by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, antisemitic ideas are penetrating the mainstream of society. It is “frightening that antisemitic narratives can sometimes be connected to the middle of German society,” said the President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, on the occasion of the publication of the current one situational picture of antisemitism.
Antisemitism is no longer just a phenomenon on the fringes of society, but serves as a “link between social discourse and extremist ideologies,” said Haldenwang. “We have increasingly seen this in the protests against the corona protection measures or at rallies about the Middle East conflict and are currently also seeing it occasionally in connection with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”
According to the report, new forms of antisemitism emerged during the pandemic. It is often a matter of “coded antisemitism” that “embeds the pandemic in an ideological conspiracy argument”. It is about “a secret, world-controlling power using the pandemic as an instrument to implement its plan for a ‘New World Order’”.
With the start of vaccinations against Covid-19 at the end of 2020, the sometimes antisemitic agitation gained in importance. Vaccination opponents claimed, for example, that Jews were “now trying to use vaccinations to realize their plans to gain power over humanity”.
In addition, there is an increasingly open expression of Israel-related antisemitism in all milieus, as well as attacks on the culture of remembrance. For example, “antisemitic narratives” would be taken up by equating the Nazi persecution of the Jews and the Holocaust with state measures to combat the pandemic and thus playing them down, for example by using the yellow star with the inscription “Unvaccinated”.
According to the situation report, the shift of antisemitic agitation to the digital sphere, which has been going on for years, was also intensified by the pandemic. The Internet offers “a multitude of opportunities to exchange and spread right-wing extremist and antisemitic ideas, including violent terrorist fantasies and plans, relatively undisturbed,” says the report.
“The Internet serves as a breeding ground and represents a significant dynamizing factor in current antisemitism,” explained Haldenwang. In addition to certain right-wing extremist Internet platforms and forums, the messenger service Telegram is “conspicuously frequently used to disseminate antisemitic posts”. He thus contributes “to the consolidation of an antisemitic worldview, at least among his users”.
The number of antisemitic crimes listed in the police statistics is constantly increasing, said Haldenwang. However, it can be assumed that this is only “the tip of the iceberg”. “The dark field is much larger, i.e. those incidents that are not reported in the first place for various reasons”. In 2020, the police authorities nationwide registered 2,351 antisemitic crimes – an increase of more than 15 percent compared to the previous year.
The report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution only examines antisemitism in its manifestations relevant to the protection of the Constitution. It was first introduced in July 2020. The assessment at the time that antisemitism can be found in all extremist phenomena remains valid, the statement said.
According to the report, antisemitism continues to be most relevant in right-wing extremism, where it is one of the ideological cornerstones. Overall, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution comes to the conclusion that the right-wing party “propagates its antisemitism most openly of all right-wing extremist parties.”
Different positions can be identified in the camp of the so-called New Right. One group sees itself “in a Christian-Jewish tradition” that needs to be defended against Islam and Islamism. Another group is critical of Israel and sees the “main ideological enemy” more in liberalism than in Islamism.
The antisemitic ideology spread by Islamists also “poses a considerable challenge to peaceful and tolerant coexistence in the Federal Republic”. An accumulation of antisemitic incidents in May 2021 also shows that an escalation of the Middle East conflict in Germany in particular “can lead to a significant emotionalization of the Muslim population and even to violent attacks”.
Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser promised more protection for Jews in Germany. It is a “disgrace for our country how much antisemitic hate speech and contempt for human beings are still being spread today”. It was “shameful how the genocide of European Jews was downplayed by some corona deniers who attach a yellow star to themselves”.
The SPD politician called for antisemitic crimes to be prosecuted “with great determination”. The fight against antisemitism is also a “task for us as a society,” she explained. “We therefore want to massively strengthen political education and the prevention of extremism – also to remove the breeding ground for often antisemitic conspiracy myths.”