‘We will not hide’: Berlin rabbi speaks out after suspected anti-Semitic incident

Police are investigating after a prominent Berlin rabbi was insulted and spat on in a suspected anti-Semitic attack.

'We will not hide': Berlin rabbi speaks out after suspected anti-Semitic incident
Yehuda Teichtal, the rabbi of the Jüdischen Gemeinde zu Berlin (Jewish Community in Berlin). Photo: DPA

Yehuda Teichtal, a well-known rabbi of the Jüdischen Gemeinde zu Berlin (Jewish Community in Berlin) was with one of his children when he says two men insulted and spat on him in Wilmersdorf, the west of the ctiy. 

The incident took place last Friday near a synagogue where Teichtal had just conducted a service. He said the perpetrators spoke in Arabic. 

In a statement, Teichtal, 47, said “aggression against Jews has developed a life of its own both in the playgrounds and on the streets of Berlin”. 

Despite concerns over rising anti-Semitic incidents, Teichtal said he remains “convinced most people in Berlin do not want to accept this aggression against Jews as a sad part of everyday Jewish life”.

He added: “Most Berliners want Jewish people to be able to live with their Judaism openly without being afraid of being insulted, spat at or even beaten. Of course we will not hide now, but continue to build on love, tolerance, dialogue and education.”

READ ALSO: German newspaper Bild prints cut-out kippa to fight anti-Semitism

The Jewish Community in Berlin said the incident demonstrates “the importance of strengthening the fight against anti-Semitism through further practical measures”. 

They said police officers should ensure that Jewish people are able to safely come and go from synagogues, their place of worship. 

Police are investigating a similar attack which took place near Berlin. 

On Saturday, a 25-year-old man wearing a kippa with the star of David on it reported being spat on and hurled with anti-Semitic abuse and threats outside Potsdam station in Brandenburg. 

Germany, like other western countries, is on alert as anti-Semitic and other racist hate speech and violence have increased in recent years while the political climate has grown more polarized.

Anti-Semitic crimes rose by 20 percent in Germany last year, according to Interior Ministry data which blamed nine out of 10 cases on the extreme right.

READ ALSO: Are refugees to blame for a rise of anti-Semitism… or are they being scapegoated?

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German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.