Germany is appointing an anti-Semitism commissioner

New legislation.
New legislation.
Image: Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke
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Germany is creating a new position, as part of new legislation, to combat discrimination against the Jewish community.

On Thursday (Jan. 18), Germany’s lower house of parliament (Bundestag) voted to create (link in German) the role of anti-semitism commissioner. The commissioner is tasked with being a point of contact for Jewish groups, acting as a middleman for battling discrimination on a federal, state, and local level. They will also coordinate with the government on implementing certain measures to carry this out, which will include ramping up the education and awareness of current and historical forms of anti-Semitism.

The role is part of new legislation being rolled out by chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc, alongside the Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats. It even has backing from the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD). Only the far-left party Die Linke abstained from the vote.

The legislation notes that Germany has a “special responsibility” to fight anti-Semitism due to the Holocaust, which saw the murder of 6 million Jews during the Third Reich. In 2015, anti-Semitic abuse in Germany was up 200% from the previous year, while data from Germany’s interior ministry showed that 94% of anti-semitic hate crimes in 2016 were at the hands of right-wing perpetrators. The Central Council of Jews in Germany welcomed the new commissioner role in a statement (link in German), saying it would be an “effective instrument” to fight hate.