After the experiences of the past few weeks with anti-Israel agitation at demonstrations and an increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents, the CDU parliamentary group in the Berlin House of Representatives has presented a ten-point plan. In it, the Christian Democrats call for sometimes drastic steps to combat anti-Semitism – including preventive detention.
“The words have been exchanged enough – only concrete measures will help our Jewish fellow citizens,” says the position paper adopted by the parliamentary group on Sunday. For the CDU, this also includes taking “well-known anti-Semites”, who have repeatedly attracted attention through hatred and hate speech against Jews, into custody before relevant events such as demonstrations.
Berlin’s Security and Order Act already allows detention “to prevent the imminent commission or continuation of an administrative offense of considerable importance to the general public or a criminal offence”. This is legally secure and possible by order of a judge if a repetition of the crime is “predominantly likely”, explains the CDU parliamentary group.
In addition, she proposes a clarification in the law to identify anti-Semites who have repeatedly abused the right to assembly and to keep them in custody at least until the end of the day after they are caught. The rule of law must exhaust all its possibilities, the paper says.
In the case of the known perpetrators who are not German citizens, sanctions under immigration law, including expulsion, would also have to be examined. “Anti-Semitic ideas do not belong in Germany, regardless of who spreads these ideas in Germany,” the paper says.
The CDU would also like to renew criminal law as part of a Federal Council initiative. Accordingly, anti-Semitic motives should generally have an aggravating effect. Berlin should also use the Bundesrat to advocate a ban on terrorist organizations such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) or Hamas, as well as the BDS movement, which advocates a boycott of Israel. At the very least, Berlin should consider banning BDS events.
In addition, the Freedom of Assembly Act, which was put into effect by the SPD, Greens and Left at the beginning of 2021, but according to the CDU “poorly made” is to be reviewed. As a result, in April, journalists were excluded from reporting by the leader of an anti-Israel demonstration under the eyes of the police.
In addition, the CDU wants the term “public order”, which was deleted by the coalition, back into the right of assembly. The term means the unwritten norms that the majority consider necessary for a thriving coexistence. The coalition restricted the possibility of banning and breaking up demonstrations to the fact that “public safety” must be endangered, i.e. criminal offenses must be committed or likely.
The CDU sees a loophole in this, because not all anti-Semitic hate speech is punishable, but it violates public order, for example when there are demonstrations against Jews and Israel. “The right to exist and the security of Israel are German reasons of state,” says the CDU paper.
“The open hatred of Jews on our streets is an attack on liberal and cosmopolitan Berlin,” said CDU faction leader Kai Wegner. “Every anti-Jewish incident is one too many, and the recent increase in such occurrences is all the more worrying.” Anyone who incites hatred against Jews deserves the full severity of the penal code.
“When anti-Semitism openly shows its face, it forces us to act,” said Wegner. This also includes prevention, but this can only succeed if the manifestations and groups of perpetrators are clearly named.
In fact, the CDU paper not only provides for repressive measures, as Elio Adler, head of the association “Values Initiative – Jewish-German Positions”, told the Tagesspiegel. He expressly praised the program because it understands anti-Semitism in all its complexity and shows measures against it. According to the paper, it must “be all of us aspirations” that after the atrocities of the Third Reich Jews in Germany can live unmolested by any form of anti-Semitism.
According to the paper, schools are a key to combating anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism prevention must therefore become a mandatory part of the training of teachers and educators. Every school must have an anti-Semitism officer who firmly anchors the Middle East conflict in the framework curriculum of the upper school and visits to memorial sites of the Nazi dictatorship must be compulsory. The CDU also proposes a town twinning with Jerusalem because of the strong symbolic power.
According to the paper, the promotion of initiatives and associations that fight anti-Semitism should be continued. So far, many have received project funding for two years, which must be secured permanently. For example, the state commissioner against anti-Semitism could also be provided with a long-term budget to reliably finance independent organizations.
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According to the will of the CDU, organizations that want to receive state money should have to commit to the Basic Law and Israel’s right to exist – also for their cooperation partners. The CDU wants to prevent projects that work with the BDS campaign from being funded. The Bundestag had already condemned the BDS movement and its calls for a boycott against Israel in 2019. Any hate speech – anti-constitutional, anti-Semitic or xenophobic – should not exist under the guise of state funding, according to the CDU paper.
The CDU also demands a loyalty check for language mediators or interpreters. The paper states that their translation of anti-Semitic demonstrations should be examined afterwards. “It would be intolerable if the translators did not tell the police at meetings where hate speech was spread in Arabic.”