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Right-wing extremist terrorist attack on Yom Kippur: naming social contexts and supporting victims


Joint press statement of the Federal Association of Mobile Counseling e.V. the Federal Association of Research and Information Centers on Anti-Semitism, and the Association of Counseling Centers for Victims of Right-Wing, Racist, and Anti-Semitic Violence.

The events in Halle have confirmed the concerns of Jewish communities in Germany: Anti-Semitism is not only an everyday experience for Jews in Germany, but remains a potentially deadly threat. Over 50 people were forced to remain inside the Halle synagogue for hours on the highest Jewish holiday after the far-right perpetrator attempted to advance on them heavily armed. The following murderous attack on a kebab restaurant did not happen by chance, but was racially motivated. We are shocked by the violent deaths of two people. Our mourning and sympathy goes to the relatives and friends of the victims as well as to the injured.

Right-wing, racist and anti-Semitic violence and right-wing terror are an everyday reality in Germany. The demands for protection of those affected by racism, anti-Semitism and right-wing terrorism must finally be taken seriously. More solidarity and the consistent disarmament and prosecution of armed neo-Nazi networks are needed to prevent further escalation. (Dr. Kai Stoltmann, Member of the VBRG Board)

Such attacks do not happen in a vacuum. They are committed by perpetrators who feel vindicated by a political climate in which the boundaries of what can be said are shifting ever further, both online and offline, and the definition of the enemy has become the normality of political debate. Any disparagement of minorities must be taken seriously. The confrontation must begin with the smallest warning signals. (Pascal Begrich, Member of the BMB Board)

The terrorist attack in Halle must have profound consequences: these must not stop at symbolic gestures. Security authorities, educational institutions, media, civil society and politics have the duty to recognize, name and outlaw every form of anti-Semitism. This is the only way to overcome the feeling in Jewish communities that they are 'standing alone'. (Benjamin Steinitz, Managing Director Bundesverband RIAS)

The main motive for the crime was apparently conspiracy-ideological anti-Semitism, as part of a closed right-wing extremist worldview. In this worldview, anti-Semitism, racism and anti-feminism are closely intertwined. However, all social developments perceived as threatening are ultimately attributed to a supposed Jewish influence. Right-wing extremist ideology inevitably leads to acts of violence against the groups marked as the enemy. The constantly repeated narrative of a permanent, eschatological "defensive struggle" against an alleged "Umvolkung" leads to the desire to arm oneself in order to be able to strike out on a self-chosen "Day X" and put annihilation fantasies into practice.

The narrative of the "lone perpetrator" and a "new quality of violence" are therefore misleading. The act joins a list of several right-wing extremist attacks in recent years that resemble each other in the staging and virtual socialization of the male, white perpetrators. These include the attacks in Utøya and Oslo in 2011, as well as the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch in March 2019 and on the synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018. The perpetrators move around in networks, exchange information via online forums, support each other and imitate each other. They benefit from the respective attention and experiential knowledge provided by other perpetrators. Moreover, violence against Jews in Germany has a sad tradition that goes back decades, even after 1945 - for example, the murders of Shlomo Lewin and Frida Poeschke in 1980 or the arson attacks on the synagogues in Lübeck (1994) and Düsseldorf (2000) are almost ignored in the current discussion.

Right-wing extremist discourses have a clear message to those affected: you are not safe and you do not belong. The attack in Halle has demonstrated once again: Anti-Semitism and racism kill. It is time to take this seriously and stand up for a solidary, open and diverse society in which everyone can live without fear.