German antisemitism chief calls for ban on Star of David at COVID protests

Germany’s commissioner on antisemitism Felix Klein called for a ban on the use of the Star of David, commonly known as the Jewish star, at anti-coronavirus-regulation demonstrations, in an interview with the Tagesspiegel newspaper last week.

“When people attach Jewish stars to demonstrations and thus make comparisons that relativize the Holocaust, the possibilities of regulatory law should be used,” he said. “The city of Munich has set in the requirements for such demonstrations that the use of these Jewish stars is not permitted. If they are shown anyway, the police intervene. I hope that other cities will follow Munich’s example and I support this.”
The yellow Star of David, which the Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust, has been used at protests against coronavirus regulations around the world, including in Israel. The use of the symbol in such protests has generated widespread outrage.
Referring to rising antisemitism in Germany, Klein stated that the trend was “frightening, but not surprising.”
“In times of crisis, people are more open to irrational explanations, including antisemitic stereotypes. Unfortunately, it has been a tradition in Germany for centuries that Jews are held responsible for crises,” Klein told Tagesspiegel. “This mostly comes from right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists, but there are also anti-Jewish arguments on the Left.”
Klein stressed that what is new is that groups that previously had little interaction with each other were suddenly joining common causes at anti-coronavirus-regulation protests and online.
“Antisemitism is the glue that holds the very different groups together,” said Klein, adding that “Of course, not all opponents of the coronavirus measures are antisemites.”

The antisemitism commissioner pointed to one case in which a woman at a demonstration compared herself to Sophie Scholl, who was active in a non-violent anti-Nazi resistance group in Nazi Germany. Klein stressed that the comparison evoked “clear indignation” from the public.
Ludwig Spaenle, Bavaria’s antisemitism commissioner, expressed outrage at the comparison to Scholl, telling AFP that “By trivializing the Holocaust and dictatorship, these activists are endangering democracy.”
Klein stressed that “antisemitism has been perceived as a marginal problem for too long. Too little has been seen [recognizing] that it also comes from the heart of society.” The commissioner emphasized that the education system needs to be reformed to better combat antisemitism.
During the interview with Tagesspiegel, he stated that denying Israel’s right to exist is clearly antisemitism, calling it the “most widespread form of antisemitism,” as well as the one with the least resistance in society.
Protesters around the world have compared measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic with the Nazi regime, with one US congressman saying of a vaccine passport plan that “proposals like these smack of 1940s Nazi Germany.”
The Libertarian Party of Kentucky compared the idea of vaccine passports (which Israel has used for over two months) to the yellow Star of David, asking on Twitter if the vaccine passports are “going to be yellow, shaped like a star and sewn on our clothes?”
The party defended the comparison, calling the proposed passports “a complete and total violation of human liberty” and “the stuff of totalitarian dictatorships.”

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