Antisemitic acts usually go unpunished in Berlin
Anyone who is a victim of an antisemitic attack in Berlin has little chance of success in court. Figures exclusively available to the Berliner Morgenpost show that out of 440 investigations opened by the Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2018, only about 15 percent were brought to court – i.e. just 65 cases. “Our problem is that a very large proportion of the acts take place on the Internet. The perpetrators take advantage of the anonymity in the network and act under pseudonyms, “said the person in charge of antisemitism at the Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office, Claudia Vanoni. Because of these few successes, fewer people complain. Due to the fact that the numbers confirm the concerns of those who have been hurt, in many cases, an ad does not lead to the perpetrators being convicted.
For half a year, Claudia Vanoni has been the person in charge of antisemitism at the Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office. Her function was also created in response to several serious attacks against Jews in Berlin. In April 2018, for example, in Prenzlauer Berg, a young Arab beat an Israeli with Kippa. The act caused nationwide horror, the Chancellor condemned the incident. A ninth grader blew cigarette smoke in the face of a Jewish classmate the prestigious John F. Kennedy School in Zehlendorf, and said to him: “This is to remind you of your gassed ancestors.”
In Berlin, the highest number of antisemitic crimes was committed in 2018. Police data indicate that hatred of Jews is becoming increasingly verbal or physical violence. In 2017 there were 7 violent attacks compared to 27 last year. “My impression is that because of the incitement and the actions that go unpunished on the Internet, the number of street crimes increases.”
In the Jewish community in Berlin, one is hardly surprised by the small number of prosecutions. “My hope was that more cases would go to court, but Mrs. Vanoni has only been in office for a few months,” said Sigmount Königsberg, a journalist who writes about antisemitic incidents in the Berliner Morgenpost. One must wait for the development. He adds that according to a study, 80 percent of those affected by antisemitism did not file a criminal complaint. There is a lack of confidence in the work of the authorities in many places. Therefore, it is a good development that Vanoni has been appointed now to cope with antisemitic crimes and with the Jewish community. “Building trust, however, takes a long time, because we are still at the beginning,” said Königsberg.
For some time now there have been discussions about the background of hatred of Jews. According to a Europe-wide study, 80 percent of victims said the perpetrators were “mostly Muslim”. Police statistics paint a different picture for Berlin. In it, almost 80 percent of the perpetrators are classified as right-wing individuals. People feel angry with these statistics, says Claudia Vanoni to the newspaper, “Because it does not reflect the reality”. “Those affected take antisemitism from Muslims as more and more of a threat,” she. That also applies to Berlin
Cornelia Seibeld, deputy leader of the CDU in the House of Representatives thus demands that the police should do more to investigate the background of antisemitic crimes. “This requires more work, but because that is an area that touches the foundations of our state, I think that is justified
She looks with concern at the hatred of Jews stemming from the Arab world. “In Germany antisemitism is outlawed today, which is quite different in the Arab world. These are regions that inherit from generation to generation the idea that Israel is a bad thing”, says Seibeld. It is therefore more difficult to combat this antisemitism because it is “culturally rooted”. One had to take action against this kind of hatred of the Jews with very different measures, rather than those used by the legal system against antisemitism that have always existed in Germany.
Therefore, the CDU representative demands that in addition to Vanoni’s position in the State Prosecutor’s Office, an adviser on antisemitism must also be appointed. “I think that Mrs. Vanoni is doing the right thing, but she comes into the picture only when the child has already fallen into the well, and it’s not enough, it’s important to prevent antisemitism, and if someone commits an antisemitic act for the first time, it’s very hard to catch him. In other German states there are already such appointed officials, and Berlin still lags behind in this aspect.”