Study: 712 antisemitic incidents in five years in Saxony

Antisemitism is present in everyday life for Jews in Saxony. But only a part of antisemitic incidents is recorded, even fewer are reported. This is confirmed by a study by the Federal Association of Research and Information Centers for Antisemitism (RIAS), which was presented in Berlin on Tuesday.

The association registered 712 antisemitic incidents in Saxony between 2014 and 2019. Among them are 484 politically motivated crimes recorded by the police, said RIAS Federal Managing Director Benjamin Steinitz on Tuesday at the presentation of a study in Berlin.

178 cases are known exclusively from civil society sources. According to Steinitz, only 50 antisemitic incidents were recorded by the police and civil society. The cases included 16 attacks, 43 threats and 68 property damage. There has been an upward trend since 2017.

On average, about three cases were known per week. "But we have to assume that there is a considerable number of unreported cases in all regions of the Free State," said Steinitz. Most of the incidents and the most serious are in the three large cities of Dresden, Chemnitz and Leipzig, which are also home to the Jewish communities.

More than 40 percent of the incidents were antisemitic statements that were against remembrance of the Nazi crimes or that spoke out in favor of social exclusion of Jews.

Nine percent fell due to antisemitism related to Israel, which denied the state's legitimacy. Around five percent were conspiracy myths about a supposed political or economic world power of Jews. A total of 0.3 percent was the proportion of religiously based antisemitism such as the charge that Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus Christ.

Studies have also shown comparable findings for other federal states. In addition to Berlin, however, there are more and more antisemitic incidents in the state capital Dresden - especially in the context of demonstrations, such as the anti-asylum »Pegida« movement or corona protests, Steinitz said.

According to its own information, RIAS has been pursuing the goal of establishing a uniform civil society record of antisemitic incidents since 2018. So far there is data from Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Brandenburg as well as Hesse and Saxony-Anhalt, among others. Qualitative and quantitative sources are used for the studies.

According to RIAS speaker Daniel Poensgen, latent antisemitism is always present. Jews would be seen as a strange group and at the same time associated with power and money.

Many incidents originated from right-wing populists and right-wing extremists, some also from Islamist milieus. There is antisemitism in all educational and social milieus. Affected people had different ways of dealing with them, they tried to ignore antisemitism or to avoid being perceived as Jewish. Some would also move or seek dialogue.