Jewish leaders have raised concerns over antisemitism in Europe in the wake of a shooting at a synagogue in Halle, Germany earlier this week.
The attack, which took place on the Jewish high holiday Yom Kippur, saw the 27-year-old German gunman kill two people before being apprehended by Halle police. During the attack, which the offender streamed live on the social media platform Twitch, the gunman shouted antisemitic and misogynist slogans. Criticism arose in the immediate aftermath of the attack over the lack of a police presence at the synagogue, particularly within the context of a rising sentiment of antisemitism in Europe.
Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress in Geneva, said: “Unfortunately the time has come when all Jewish places of worship and Jewish communal sites [in Germany] need to have enhanced round-the-clock security provided by state security services. We also need immediately to launch a unified front against neo-Nazi and other extremist groups, which threaten our wellbeing. The fact that, 75 years after the Holocaust, such groups are gaining influence in Germany speaks volumes.”
Concerns have grown in recent years over what appears to be an increase in antisemitism in Europe, with 60% of German residents surveyed last year reporting a belief that antisemitism had increased in the last five years. In June 2019, a report produced by the EU’s joint police body Europol warned that extreme right wing sentiments were increasing across Europe.
Following the attacks in Halle, President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “I am shocked by the news of the brutal attacks in Halle – on this day [Wednesday], Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims and with the Jewish community in Germany and throughout Europe, which in recent years has repeatedly become the target of antisemitic attacks. Growing antisemitism is a call for all Europeans to stand together. On this day we stand in solidarity with the Jewish community.”