Thousands rally against anti-Semitism on Oct. 13, 2019 in Berlin, days after two people were killed by a gunman targeting a synagogue in the city of Halle. (Photo/JTA-AFP via Getty Images-Axel Schmidt)
Thousands rally against anti-Semitism on Oct. 13, 2019 in Berlin, days after two people were killed by a gunman targeting a synagogue in the city of Halle. (Photo/JTA-AFP via Getty Images-Axel Schmidt)

Thousands of Germans say ‘not this time’ as extremism strikes in quiet city of Halle

And now, Germany.

With an Oct. 9 terror attack in the city of Halle, deadly anti-Jewish violence has returned to the nation that gave us Kristallnacht, World War II and the Final Solution. The suspect, an avowed white supremacist donning a military helmet, attempted to shoot his way into a synagogue during Yom Kippur services and, when thwarted, shot dead two unrelated people.

The suspect was quickly arrested. And it’s worth noting that although his stated target was Jews, he redirected his anger toward others instead — a woman walking by the synagogue and an immigrant in a kebab shop. Neither was Jewish. Hatred toward the “other” does not discriminate.

In recent years, Jews and their allies have looked on with horror as anti-Semitic terror attacks, many of them lethal, plagued European cities: Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, Toulouse. Now we add to the list Halle, population 240,000, including more than 500 Jews.

It comes as no surprise that Germany should also become a locus of anti-Jewish violence. Government data reported a 20 percent uptick in anti-Semitic hate crimes last year.

But this time the German people are standing up and saying no. In response to the attack in Halle, 10,000 people took to the streets of Berlin to demonstrate their support for the Jewish community. In a potent symbolic act, the demonstrators marched from Bebelplatz, where Nazis burned Jewish books in the early 1930s, to the site of a venerable synagogue rebuilt after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Similar solidarity marches took place in cities across Germany.

There is no question that Germany has done much to make restitution for its unforgiveable crimes during the Third Reich. The Claims Conference has paid out billions of dollars to Holocaust victims. Nazi symbols and Holocaust denial have long been illegal. Germany has been a staunch ally of Israel and a promoter of democracy around the world. The nation deserves credit for all of this.

But clearly no place is safe from the rapidly spreading contagion of white nationalism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia. As economic dislocation and other factors unravel the world order we grew up with, the forces of hate see an opportunity and are striking hard. These are dangerous times.

This means that Jews and their allies have to double down in response. Partnering with governments, businesses, media, nonprofits and faith communities, Jews will tell the world we will not passively endure anti-Semitism. Not this time. Never again.

J. Editorial Board

The J. Editorial Board pens editorials as the voice of J.