We must never ignore hatred and rabble rousing

70th anniversary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany We must never ignore hatred and rabble rousing

Chancellor Angela Merkel has praised the Central Council of Jews on Germany on its 70th anniversary, as "a critical watchdog and admonisher, the competent advocate for Jewish concerns, and a reliable partner at political level and within civil society". She also said it is a disgrace to see how racism and anti-Semitism have been expressed for some time.

Chancellor Angela Merkel during her speech at the ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany

70 years of the Central Council of Jews in Germany - that is not something we can take for granted by any means, stressed Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

The Chancellor thanked the Central Council for its important and impressive work and for its dedication to rebuilding Jewish life in Germany. Only a huge leap of faith made this possible, she said. "The Jewish community can be proud of what they have built up and of everything they have achieved, thanks to their trust in themselves and their trust in our country," stressed Angela Merkel.

"The Central Council of Jews in Germany has served our land well in its seventy-year history," pointed out the Chancellor. Over this period it has acted as a critical watchdog and admonisher, as the competent advocate for Jewish concerns, and as a reliable partner at political level and within civil society.

Racism and anti-Semitism are "a disgrace"

In 2020, Germany, declared Angela Merkel, "can count itself lucky to have vibrant Jewish life". But this is "only one side of today’s reality". At the same time, many Jews in the Federal Republic of Germany "do not feel safe, do not feel respected". It is "a disgrace and I am deeply ashamed when I see how racism and anti-Semitism are expressed in our country at the moment," said the Chancellor.

Both have become "more visible and more uninhibited for some time now". Open insults, threats and conspiracy theories target Jewish citizens. "We must never ignore such things," underscored Angela Merkel. "Anti-Semitism is an attack against people, an attack against humanity, an attack against the human existence per se," she stressed. It targets the human dignity of the individual. 

Supporting Jewish communities, stepping up prevention

Particularly in the wake of the attack on a synagogue in Halle on Yom Kippur last October, the German government has introduced new, far-reaching measures to fight right-wing extremism, racism and anti-Semitism. They include support for Jewish communities, and enhancing security for the facilities of these communities.

But they also include more preventive work. This is one of the priorities of the work of Felix Klein, the Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Anti-Semitism. The Cabinet Committee for the fight against racism and right-wing extremism was established in March 2020 to this end.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany was founded on 19 July 1950 in Frankfurt am Main and gives all Jews living in Germany a voice. Under its umbrella, the Central Council brings together 23 state associations and 105 Jewish communities with a total of some 97,791 members. It advances their political and societal interests and is the contact for federal and state level political actors on all issues that affect the Jewish community.