Monitoring group reports a steep rise in antisemitic incidents in Germany last year

BERLIN (AP) — A group that tracks antisemitism in Germany said Tuesday it recorded an overall increase of more than 80% in incidents last year, with well over half of the total coming after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel in early October.

The RIAS group said it recorded 4,782 antisemitic incidents in 2023, ranging from anti-Jewish comments to attacks. That compared with 2,616 in 2022.

The group said that 2,787 of last year's recorded incidents — more than the previous year's total — took place after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, which triggered the ongoing war in Gaza. Those incidents included a mid-October attack on a synagogue in Berlin, which caused widespread alarm.

The incidents RIAS documented last year included seven cases classified as “extreme violence,” which did or could endanger lives or result in severe injury, 121 attacks, 329 cases of targeted damage to property, 183 threats and 4,060 incidences of offensive behavior.

“An open ... but above all carefree Jewish life has become even less possible in Germany as well since Oct. 7,” said Benjamin Steinitz, the director of RIAS, or Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism.

Of last year's incidents, 1,583 took place in the street, more than double the previous year's figure, and 999 on the internet — an increase from 853 in 2022. RIAS recorded 471 incidents at educational institutions and 311 on public transport, both more than double the previous year.

A senior official with Germany's Central Council of Jews, Daniel Botmann, said that “we are not currently seeing the effect of an emigration of Jews from Germany," contrasting that with movement that has been seen from neighboring France in recent years.