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Surging Anti-Semitic Attacks Detailed in Alarming Report

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Small square brass plates set in the pavement remember Jewish residents of Berlin’s Lichtenberg district who were torn from their homes and killed by the Nazis decades ago. Nearby, the charred remains of a Jewish-run bar destroyed by arson last month attest to a hatred that still burns.

The attack on the bar called Morgen Wird Besser, which in English means Tomorrow Will Be Better, underscores the findings of a support group: Anti-Semitism remains in Germany’s capital 75 years after World War II’s end.

In a report released Tuesday, the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism Berlin, or RIAS, documented 410 incidents — more than two a day — during the first half of 2020.

The group’s count of anti-Semitic acts included six physical attacks, 25 cases of property damage, 20 threats, 58 examples of anti-Semitic propaganda and 301 examples of malicious behavior such as giving the Nazi salute.

The report’s publication comes amid nationwide concerns that intensified in October 2019 after an armed man tried to force his way into a synagogue in the central German city of Halle on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and fatally shot two people nearby.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week said anti-Semitism had become “more visible and uninhibited.”

“It is a disgrace, and it shames me deeply,” Merkel said.

A national report issued in May showed anti-Semitic crimes in Germany last year reached their highest level since the country started keeping records.

The Interior Ministry reported a 13 percent increase in anti-Semitic crimes to 2,032. Anti-Muslim crimes also rose 4.4 percent to 950.

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The report highlights recent cases in Berlin.

Graves were desecrated at a Jewish cemetery in the borough of Pankow.

The words “Jew! Hate! J.H.” were sprayed outside a Jewish-owned business in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, and a swastika was etched into the glass of a restaurant in Schöneberg.

In Kreuzberg, 10 “Stolpersteine” — brass memorial plates like the ones near the Lichtenberg bar — were painted black.

Levi Salomon from the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism told The Associated Press that the problem has been growing for a long time.

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The owner of the bar in Lichtenberg, for example, had been receiving threats since he first opened a Jewish restaurant in the area in 2012.

The latest came the Monday before the arson, when an anonymous caller told the bar owner he wasn’t wanted in the neighborhood. Someone then smashed a window and set a couch inside on fire, leading to the almost complete destruction of the bar on Aug. 14.

A crude Star of David also was scratched into the door.

Hundreds of residents and others rallied against anti-Semitism outside the bar shortly after the fire. Some held signs with slogans such as “No place for Nazis!” and “No place for extremism.”

In response to the concerns in Berlin, the state prosecutors’ office this month announced a new department focused on anti-Semitic crimes.

Salomon said more investment is needed to help fight anti-Semitism.

“As long as that doesn’t happen, we’re going to really have problems,” Salomon said.

In the United States, an amendment targeting anti-Semitism passed the House of Representatives last week despite overwhelming Democratic opposition.

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