BERLIN (Reuters) - New migrants to Germany must visit Nazi concentration camp memorials to help tackle a perceived rise in anti-Semitism, Germany’s Central Council of Jews said on Wednesday, supporting a proposal by a Palestinian-German politician.
Anti-Semitism remains a sensitive issue in Germany more than 70 years after the end of the Nazi-era Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed.
The government decried as shameful the spectacle of the Israeli flag being burned at demonstrations last month against President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews, expressed support for a proposal by Sawsan Chebli, a Berlin state senator, for mandatory visits by newly arrived refugees to Nazi concentration camps memorials.
“People who have fled to us who have themselves had to escape or been expelled, can develop empathy in such memorials,” Schuster told Deutschlandfunk radio on Wednesday.
Germany has received well over a million migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
Germany is home today to an estimated 200,000 Jews and has built a reputation in recent decades as a tolerant, safe place for Jews to live - though data shows anti-Semitic crimes reported to the police rose 4 percent to 681 in the first eight months of 2017 from the same period in 2016.
“It makes sense for everyone living in this country to be obliged to visit a concentration camp memorial site at least once in their lives,” Chebli told Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday when she first floated the proposal.