For this Berlin restaurateur, anti-Semitic attacks are the norm

Yorai Feinberg was taking a break outside his Berlin restaurant when a man screamed at him: "Go back to your gas chambers!".

For this Berlin restaurateur, anti-Semitic attacks are the norm
Feinberg says he's filed 20 complaints with police about the attacks he's received. Photo: DPA

Shaken by the abuse, the 37-year-old Israeli posted a video of the December 2017 incident, filmed by his friend, on social media.

The video went viral and unleashed a torrent of anti-Semitic hate mail.

“There are people who are obsessed by me,” said Feinberg with a wry smile, as he pointed to the latest abuse that has appeared on his social media account — more than 65 pages of insults sent by a certain Lutz F.

The insults have become such regular occurrences that Feinberg already knows what to expect.

“He starts by denying the Holocaust, then continues with a hate tirade against Israel, then uses Nazi-era insults” such as “dirty Jew”, “shit Jew”, recounted Feinberg.

Then there are also blood-curdling death threats, said Feinberg, reading one typed in uppercase: “I'm going to cut your throat”.

His restaurant offering Middle-Eastern specialities, a stone's throw from the west Berlin shopping thoroughfare Kurfürstendamm, was opened six years ago.

Berlin's bustling Kurfürstendamm in December. Photo: DPA

Hummus, falafel and other Kosher dishes are on the menu in the cosy setting with brightly decorated walls where the Star of David also features.

At the window stands the menorah — the seven-lamp candelabrum which is one of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith

Firecrackers, online hate 

The abuse began as stickers calling for a boycott of Israel, followed by telephoned or emailed insults.

The abuse took on a new dimension after the December 2017 video went online.

In the video, a white man aged around 50 is seen hurling insults in German at the restaurateur.

“You've no business here,” said the man, “go back to your gas chambers.”

“The video went viral and I gave interviews,” said Feinberg, adding that he himself became more militant as the insults got more extreme.

Today, the harassment comes at least once a week. “They are very creative,” he said.

Beyond posting nasty messages on social media, his opponents leave poor reviews of his restaurant online.

Others have turned up in person at his restaurant to harass his staff.

“There was a more serious case when three teenagers threw large firecrackers towards clients, sparking panic” before fleeing, he recalled.

Most of his attackers are Muslims, he said, noting that they are often newly arrived migrants as more than a million asylum seekers, mostly from the Arab world, came to Germany between 2015 and 2016.

Others stemmed from Germany's two political extremes — left and right.

Won't give up 

Feinberg said he has filed 20 complaints with the police to date.

But so far only the attacker filmed on video has been sentenced to a suspended jail term of seven months.

Another suspect will soon face the court.

A sign in Berlin reading 'Against all anti-Semitism'. Photo: DPA

Nothing has come of the other cases, an outcome that he calls “surprising”.

In the case of Lutz F., “the justice system could not do anything because he is deemed incompetent before the courts,” said Feinberg.

In many other cases, the attacker is faceless and nameless.

But the abusers are getting bolder, said Feinberg, with more people posting their virulent comments using their real identities.

SEE ALSO: Germany steps up fight against anti-Semitism with new reporting centre

“It's absurd, many people don't even fear any consequences,” he said,
adding that he felt let down by the authorities.

Faced with a rash of anti-Semitic crimes, Berlin at the end of 2018 named a prosecutor dedicated to investigating such violations.

“For the moment, it hasn't had any impact,” said Feinberg.

In a recent interview, the prosecutor Claudia Vanoni admitted that out of 440 cases of anti-Semitism filed last year, 41 percent were shelved with no outcome due to a lack of evidence.

Despite the seemingly unending battle against his abusers, Feinberg is determined to carry on.

“I don't want to give up now,” he said.

Rather, he is fighting back through a petition urging authorities to toughen up rules against anti-Semitism, which has already garnered 50,000 signatures.

“Personally I'm getting more support and love than hate and aggression,” he said.

“I hope this positive side will get stronger and louder in Germany, France
and Europe.”

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Outrage in Germany after remains of neo-Nazi buried in empty Jewish grave

The burial of a known neo-Nazi's ashes in the former grave of a Jewish musical scholar has sparked outrage in Germany, and prompted Berlin's anti-Semitism official to file a criminal complaint.

Jewish scholar Max Friedlaender's grave stone in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, on October 12th.
Jewish scholar Max Friedlaender's grave stone in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, on October 12th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Jens Kalaene

The remains of the neo-Nazi were buried at the grave of Max Friedlaender in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, with several figures from the extreme-right scene in attendance at the funeral on Friday.

Samuel Salzborn, anti-Semitism official for Berlin, said late Tuesday that he had filed a criminal complaint because “the intention here is obvious – the right-wing extremists deliberately chose a Jewish grave to disturb the peace of the dead by burying a Holocaust denier there”.

He added that “it must now be quickly examined how quickly the Holocaust denier can be reburied in order to no longer disturb the dignified memory of Max Friedlaender”.

Friedlaender died in 1934 – when Adolf Hitler was already in power – and was buried in the graveyard as his religion was given as ‘Protestant’ in the burial registration slip

His grave was cleared upon expiration in 1980 and opened up for new burials, under common practice for plots after a certain amount of time has passed.

Friedlaender’s gravestone however remains standing as the entire cemetery is protected under monument conservative rules.


The Protestant Church managing the graveyard voiced dismay at the incident.

In a statement, it said it had accepted the request for burial at the empty grave because “everyone has a right for a final resting place”.

“Nevertheless, the choice of the former grave of Max Friedlaender is a mistake. We are looking into this mistake now,” the church said in a statement.

At the funeral, a black cloth was laid over Friedlaender’s tombstone while wreathes and ribbons bearing the Nazi-era iron cross symbol were laid on the grave for the neo-Nazi Henry Hafenmayer.

Prominent Holocaust denier Horst Mahler, who has been convicted for incitement, was among dozens at the funeral.

Police deployed at the funeral were able to arrest a fugitive from the far-right scene there, German media reported.

Several war graves stand at the cemetery at Stahnsdorf, and these sites are known in far-right circles, the Protestant church administrating the graveyard admitted.

It added that it has worked closely with police to hinder several neo-Nazi marches there in recent years.

READ ALSO: German hotel workers probed after singer’s anti-Semitism complaint