Police in Berlin were facing criticism over their handling of antisemitic hate crimes on Thursday, after a prominent local politician claimed that officers were assigning right-wing extremist motives to a large number of offenders without sufficient evidence.
Marcel Luthe — a member of Berlin’s state parliament for the liberal FDP Party — disclosed earlier this week that up to 60 percent of antisemitic offenses had been incorrectly blamed on the far right, thereby diminishing the role played by Muslim extremists and militant anti-Zionists in attacking Jewish targets.
Luthe said that government figures for 2018 showed there had been 324 antisemitic acts recorded in Berlin, of which 253 were classified as having come from the extreme right.
However, according to Luthe’s analysis, the motive was clear in only 133 of these attacks. The remaining 120 offenses were designated as “far right” by default, Luthe said, adding that he had observed a similar pattern in the approach of the police of antisemitic acts in 2017 as well.
Luthe argued that antisemitic acts influenced by what the police call “foreign ideology” — supporters of Islamist terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah — likely made up a larger portion of the attacks on Jews than was visible from the police statistics. According to the police data, only 49 of last year’s incidents were assigned to Islamists, with another seven incidents blamed on supporters of the extreme left.
“Those who want to fight antisemitism must act consistently and ban Hamas and Hezbollah across the EU,” Luthe told the German news outlet Welt on Thursday.
Other politicians and experts have similarly questioned the tendency to downplay acts of antisemitism from sources other than the far right. In an interview with the Jewish weekly Jüdische Allgemeine on Wednesday, Benjamin Steinitz — director of Berlin’s Antisemitism Research and Information Center — stated that there was “a discrepancy between the perceptions of those affected by antisemitic attacks and insults and the statistics of the police.”
In a separate recent interview with the same weekly, Felix Klein — the German government’s commissioner tasked with combating antisemitism — said that based on his conversations with German Jews, “the subjective perception of the threat posed by Muslim antisemitism is greater than is expressed in the criminal statistics.”