New research finds one in 10 attacks on Jewish people was related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; French protesters vandalise Holocaust memorial.
Of the 2480 antisemitic incidents in Germany last year, 11% involved some link with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the annual report from the Department for Research and Information on Antisemitism (RIAS) has found.
These included two assaults, three threats, three targeted attacks on property, and more than 140 cases of abusive behaviour.
Marco Siegmund, a spokesperson for the group, said in many cases the attacks were due to antisemitic conspiracy theories that powerful Jewish forces were secretly “directing world events” being delusionally applied to the Russian war on Ukraine.
Siegmund cited one example documented in the report in which a taxi driver in Berlin had told a Jewish passenger that only Americans and Israelis were benefiting from the Ukraine conflict because it was all about “power and money,” and claiming that Israelis owned 60% of the German capital.
Nicholas Potter, a researcher at the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, an anti-racism organisation in Berlin, said that the war in Ukraine had proven the latest issue around which antisemites could frame their conspiracy narratives, as the COVID pandemic had been before it.
“Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine has served as a canvas onto which antisemites can project their ideology – not least because [Ukraine President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy is Jewish,” he told VICE News. “Central to all conspiracy narratives is the question, who benefits? And in the mind of antisemites, it’s the Jews.”
He said that the antisemitic narratives circulating around the war in Ukraine typically related to “the alleged power and wealth” of Jewish people, with Jews supposedly standing “to profit from the war and are secretly pulling the strings behind it.”
The far-right recently secured its greatest success in Germany since World War II with the election of candidate Robert Sesselmann from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in a local government election on June 25.
In Austria, authorities seized hundreds of weapons, ammunition and Nazi memorabilia last week and arrested six people after raids on several premises of the right-wing extremist Bandidos motorcycle gang.
Police found a weapons stash including about 35 long firearms, 25 submachine guns, 100 pistols, over a thousand weapons components, and 400 signal weapons, the Interior Ministry said.
Meanwhile, protesters in France vandalised a Holocaust monument memorialising Jews deported to Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
Videos shared online showed the Memorial to the Martyrs of the Deportation in Nanterre, a Parisian suburb, covered in spray-painted anti-police slogans.
The attack was one event in five nights of protests prompted by the police shooting of a 17-year-old French-Algerian. Hundreds of people have been arrested and the violence continues.
Protesters in France vandalize holocaust monument as rioting rocks nation (Haaretz)
The European Jewish Congress condemned the act as “shameful disrespect for the memory of the victims of the Holocaust”.
Austria seizes vast weapons cache in far-right biker raid (Times of Israel)
Austrian law enforcement seized hundreds of weapons, ammunition, and various Nazi paraphernalia in raids on members of a biker group called the Bandidos Motorcycle Club. Six people were arrested as part of the operation.
What does the far-right’s success in Germany imply for European Jews? – opinion (Jerusalem Post)
In Europe, Jews often serve as the canary in the coal mine, the first to recognise threats that affect all German citizens.
Photo: Members of the Ukraine community commemorate the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)