Thousands of Jews and Gentiles from all walks of life, religious and secular, walked proudly through Germany with kippahs on their heads last week in a public display against anti-Semitism after a video of an assault on a kippah-wearing man outraged the public.
Thousands Don Kippahs to Fight Anti-Semitism in Germany
The “wear a kippah” march wasn’t arranged just because of negative rhetoric. Just a day before, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, warned Jewish men against wearing a kippah in public because of the threat of becoming a target.
Wednesday’s marches, the largest of which was in Berlin, were coordinated during a time of heightened fears of anti-Semitism again spreading across Europe and while Germany is struggling to capacitate thousands of Muslim refugees and migrants. The video of the attack that sparked this movement, which went viral last week, is only one in a string of recent incidents.
The video shows two young men wearing kippahs being assaulted by three other men, one who is whipping them with a belt as a victim filmed on his cell phone. Ha’aretz reports that the assailants were speaking Arabic and are being investigated by police.
The German Ministry of Interior shows that there were 1,468 reported anti-Semitic attacks in Germany in 2016, the majority of those associated with rising far-right social movements.
Ha’aretz reports that “both men and women cheered when Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller told them, ‘Today, we all wear kippah. Today, Berlin is wearing kippah.’”
The public support and political impetus behind this rally come as no surprise in Germany, a state that is acutely aware of its history and makes strong attempts not to go down the same path. But as Germany is providing homes to thousands of Arab refugees, the far-right nationalist movements are again gaining some level of popularity. Both these elements bring anti-Semitic threats with them.
In an odd twist to the story, however, it turns out that the victim being attacked in the video isn’t Jewish himself. Ha’aretz reports that the man admited that he is actually an Israeli-Arab. So why was he wearing a kippah? Believe it or not, he was doing it to see for himself if there was anti-Semitism present in Germany. Now his video has proved that there is, sparking outrage all the way up to Prime Minister Merkel’s office and the thousands of perhaps fittingly other non-Jews.
10 Dead in Flash Floods, Arrests Made
Ten young hikers, all seventeen or eighteen years old, are dead after being swept away by flash floods in a tragic and preventable accident that has brought an equal share of mourning and anger to Israel resulting in the arrests.
Unseasonal and heavy rainfall drenched parts of Israel last week, including parts of the usually arid Judean desert, causing flash floods, one of which swept away a group of young campers, nine women and one man who were camping in a river bed. Israeli Police told the Jerusalem Post that they have arrested the head of the program the students were part of and a teacher on suspicions of causing death through negligence.
The students were part of a 25-person group under the Bnei Zion pre-military academy. The Times of Israel says the police are investigating whether the organizers of the hike lied to the hikers about the safety of the trail they planned to take. A guide for the program, who is now under house arrest, claims that she warned them not to continue with the hike, but that the organizers ignored her warnings.
The BBC reports how a massive joint-organization search and rescue effort was launched south of the Dead Sea.
Survivors of the tragedy described how a 10-foot high wall of water came out of nowhere gushing through a dry riverbed they were walking in as they tried desperately to grab onto anything or get out of the way.
Rescue teams have now recovered all of the bodies, seven of which were laid to rest on Friday drawing mourners nation-wide and condolences from the prime minister and president.
The heavy and unseasonal rains and flash floods also led to the deaths of two Israeli Bedouins, a young Palestinian girl, and, likely, a truck driver who is still missing after he was swept away.
Violence at Gaza Border Continues
For weeks now new headlines every weekend display the number of dead and wounded at the Gaza border in a long-lasting clash over land rights that has left dozens dead and tested Israel’s containment strategies.
Every weekend also seems to bring new tactics from the Hamas-backed Palestinian rioters on the other side of the fence. Burning tires to create a smoke screen, firebomb kites to set Israeli fields on fire, and attempts to damage the security fence. This weekend, the fifth in the protest, left four dead and nearly 1,000 more wounded, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
The situation in Gaza is desperate: massive unemployment, a stagnant economy under blockade, and failure of infighting Palestinian factions to provide basic services.
Additionally, Hamas organized this protest partly to garner international sympathy and to cover for terrorist activities, according to Israel. While most, if not all, of the terror attacks have been quickly thwarted, they have had a certain level of success in the latter.
The total dead is between thirty-nine and forty-five according to different sources, but the movements at the border have been getting bolder. Last weekend witnesses said that the crowds managed to get closer to the fence than ever before. The crowd did not pull back until Israel opened live fire.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the Israeli Air Force, which has been conducting strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip throughout the protests, hit six Hamas naval commando boats in the Port of Gaza in response to an infiltration attempt.
The weekly demonstrations, which draw thousands to the security fence to square off with the IDF, are scheduled to last until May 15, but Al Jazeera reports that many believe the effort will continue past that date.