German Jewish leader outraged by attack on dance troupe
The leader of Germany's Jewish community, Charlotte Knobloch, warned Thursday of a dangerous new brand of anti-Semitism after an attack on a group of Jewish dancers at a festival.
Youths in the northern city of Hanover threw rocks Saturday at the dancers from the group Chaverim ("Friends" in Hebrew) and shouted "Juden Raus!" (Jews Out), police said. Many of the assailants were reportedly of Arab origin.
One female dancer suffered a slight injury to her leg, leading the troupe to call off the performance.
Knobloch, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the newspaper Die Welt that the incident "points to a new societal challenge that has clearly emerged in recent weeks".
She said she had the impression that anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli sentiment was "widespread" not just among the far-right but also in Germany's Muslim community.
"It particularly saddens me that those anti-Semitic views can already be seen with such vehemence among children and youths," she said.
Hanover Mayor Stephan Weil, quoted in the same article, called the attack "unacceptable" and said his city had filed charges of incitement of racial hatred and grievous bodily harm.
A police spokesman told AFP that authorities had identified two suspects, a 14-year-old German and a 19-year-old North African, but said they had no indication of a direct political motive linked to the Middle East conflict.
In mid-May, vandals mounted an arson attack against a synagogue in Worms, western Germany but the fire brigade was able to extinguish the blaze so the building was not damaged.
A letter in broken German claiming responsibility stated: "Until you leave the Palestinians alone, we won't leave you alone."
© 2010 AFP