Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Germany: "We should get Israelis to take care of security"

Via Times of Israel:
“I would say, three-quarters [of the Jews here] are concerned to a certain extent. The other quarter are very worried,” Abraham Lehrer, a senior leader of the Cologne Jewish community and the vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told The Times of Israel last week.

In light of the municipality’s decision to house refugees directly across from the synagogue building, which also houses a community center, a kindergarten and a kosher restaurant, Lehrer and his colleagues at the helm of the Cologne community requested 24-hour police protection. The police refused. “The authorities’ security assessment has not changed due to the refugees,” Lehrer said unhappily.


“My nightmare is that someone is going to throw a molotov cocktail into the synagogue,” a regular attendant of services at the Roonstrasse shul said. “I am not really afraid to be here, but the police is only here occasionally. The truth is that they’re not really capable of doing anything. You know what their procedure is in the case of an attack? To lock themselves in their car and call for reinforcement.” Policemen ordered to protect the synagogue are not even allowed to enter the building, he added. “We should get Israelis to take care of security.”

He is not afraid to walk around walking a skullcap, the man added, saying that he was only yelled at once. However, he cautioned, there have been several anti-Semitic attacks in other German cities and Cologne could easily be next.

In Germany, securing Jewish institutions is the responsibility of the local authorities and thus varies from place to place. While the synagogue in nearby Düsseldorf, for instance, has 24-hour police protection, the Cologne police only stations a van in front of the building when there are large gatherings planned. Some communities hire Israel security companies to reinforce the local police presence, but smaller one generally cannot afford this extra cost.

While the Cologne police dismissed the local Jews’ security concerns over the refugees, the agency that operates the refugee center did agree to not to house Syrians or Iraqis in the containers. Only refugees from countries where anti-Semitic sentiments are considered less rabid are being placed there, according to various members of the Cologne Jewish community, none of whom agreed to discuss the issue on the record.

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