In his government statement to the German Bundestag on 12 October this year, Olaf Scholz stated unequivocally that: “Antisemitism has no place in Germany. We will do everything to oppose it. We will do this as citizens, and as bearers of political responsibility.”
Criminal law and the protection of Jewish institutions
Effective combating of antisemitism involves, firstly, the legal prosecution of antisemitic offences, and secondly, extensive protective measures for Jewish institutions in Germany. Furthermore, the Federal Government has adopted a strategy against antisemitism and for Jewish life.
- Section 130 of the German Criminal Code, incitement of masses: Important criminal provision for the protection of peaceful coexistence and protection against statements which injure or demean people’s human dignity on the basis of particular features. Prison sentences of up to 5 years can be incurred.
- Antisemitic motivation as a penalty-enhancing attribute: If an offender acts on the basis of antisemitic motivation or goals, this will enhance the penalty incurred. For this reason, the attribute “antisemitic” was explicitly entered into the regulations of sentencing in 2021.
- Prohibition of associations: Associations can be prohibited if their aims or activities run counter to the penal laws or are directed against the constitutional order or the general idea of understanding between nations. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the Federal Minister of the Interior have announced a prohibition of activities for Hamas in Germany and the group Samidoun, which glorified the Hamas terrorism in Berlin.
- Protection of Jewish institutions: This year, the Federal Government has resolved to increase the annual payments to the Central Council of Jews in Germany to 22 million euros. This is intended, among other things, to further strengthen the safety and security of Jewish communities. Immediately after the start of the terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas, German security agencies increased the protection of Jewish and Israeli institutions in this country.
- Strategy against antisemitism: At the end of last year, the Federal Government adopted the National Strategy against Antisemitism and for Jewish Life. It is the first Federal Government strategy exclusively concerned with fighting antisemitism and encouraging Jewish life. Its aim is to support Jewish people in Germany and make the reality of their lives more visible.
Federal Government funding programmes
With the aim of preventing and fighting antisemitism at all political and social levels, the Federal Government has committed to a number of measures and projects. These include:
- : Since 2015, the “Live Democracy!” federal programme has supported various measures at the municipal, regional and national level which tackle the problem of antisemitism as well as extremism. These include, for example, the projects “Meet a Jew” by the Central Committee of Jews in Germany and “Shalom and Salam together” by Kubus e.V.. This year, approx. 182 million euros have been earmarked for the federal programme.
- : Since 2020, the federal programme “Live Democracy!” has also supported various competence networks, including a network focusing on antisemitism. Five national organisations with many years of experience in antisemitism prevention, antisemitism-critical educational work and consultancy are collaborating in this. They include the and the Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism. The competence network is aimed at children and young people, but also educational workers.
- Preventive work in schools: The Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds projects for antisemitism prevention in schools. The EMPATHIA³ programme, for example, prepares and trains teachers for encounters with offensive statements. Another project, AIES, develops digital educational material for the prevention of antisemitism.
- Youth exchange: The Coordination Centre for German-Israeli Youth Exchange, ConAct, supports extra-curricular exchanges for young people and professionals, with the aim of encouraging mutual understanding. It also makes an important contribution to international communication. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs funds the exchange.
In addition, the Federal Government has a Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Antisemitism. Felix Klein is the contact for Jewish groups and social organisations, as well as mediator in the fight against antisemitism in the Federation, Länder and in civil society. He has the additional responsibility of coordinating the Federal Government’s measures to fight antisemitism across government departments.