Germany warns of anti-Semitism among lockdown protests
Protesters with a poster reading: 'shame on you' in Berlin, Germany, on Nov. 22, 2020. (Fabian Sommer / dpa via AP)
BERLIN -- A German government official warned Tuesday that anti-Semitism is emerging as a common position among people protesting pandemic lockdown measures who otherwise come from widely differing political backgrounds.
Felix Klein, who was appointed in 2018 to head the government's efforts to combat anti-Semitism, said that hatred against Jews in Germany has increased during the coronavirus pandemic.
He noted that anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have been spread by people who believe in alternative healing and peace campaigners as well as by Germany's far-right scene, which has used the protests to mobilize supporters.
Apart from making baseless claims about sinister elites using the pandemic to control or oppress the population -- a common anti-Semitic trope -- protesters have also been likening their situation to that of Jews in Nazi Germany, by wearing yellow Stars or David or comparing themselves to Anne Frank or anti-fascist campaigner Sophie Scholl.
"Portraying oneself as the persecuted victim is and was a central element of anti-Semitic attitudes," Klein told reporters in Berlin.
Anetta Kahane, who heads the anti-racist Amadeu Antonio Foundation, said anti-Semitism seemed to be a unifying element among disparate groups and warned that open hatred of Jews was likely to come increasingly to the fore in Germany.