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Radio Free Bonnie: Combating Anti-Semitism In Germany

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Michael Gottschalk
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Getty Images News
Activists holding a sign with the word Shalom on it attend a 'wear a kippah' gathering to protest against anti-Semitism in front of Cologne Cathedral or Koelner Dom on April 25, 2018 in Cologne, Germany.

The mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue was an illustration of anti-Semitism in the United States. But the issue isn't new, nor does it always manifest itself with killing, as the recent picture of students at Baraboo High School giving the Nazi salute makes evident.

READ: Photo Shows Baraboo Students Giving Nazi Salute

People who track hate acts and crimes say they're on the rise in Europe, as well, with the rise of nationalist movements in places such as Hungary, Poland and Germany. The worldwide organization, American Jewish Committee (AJC), is into its second century of trying to combat the effects of anti-Semitism.

However, it is comparatively recent that the AJC has established an office in Berlin. Deidre Berger is the director of the AJC’s Berlin Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations, and says that there was a growing concern that Germany would again be susceptible to fascist right-wing ideology as it grew more powerful.

"There's nervousness right now because there has been a resurgent right wing, various Neo-Nazi groups ... But there are much stronger democratic institutions than there were in the Weimar Republic, and there’s a very strong civil society" she notes. "So, I think we can’t compare the two. Nonetheless, we have to be very alert."

According to Berger some of the AJC's responsibilities include monitoring potential developing anti-Semitic situations, heightening the public's awareness of such attitudes, and partnering with people and other organizations on the ground level "to make sure that this sort of hatred of others simply will not again take over political life in Germany."

Lake Effect’s Bonnie North spoke with her during her recent RIAS journalism fellowship in Germany, and Berger explains the history of her organization’s work in Germany:

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.