The police in Berlin are concerned about a suspected anti-Semitic attack on a 30-year-old. According to investigators, the Jewish student was walking with a companion on Brunnenstrasse in Mitte late on Friday evening and met a 23-year-old fellow student there. A dispute then developed.
“During the course of the argument, the younger man is said to have suddenly hit the older man several times in the face, causing him to fall,” the police said. “The opponent is said to have kicked the man lying on the ground and finally fled across Torstrasse in the direction of Ackerstrasse.” The 30-year-old was taken to hospital with serious head injuries, but his life was not in danger.
The victim is said to have expressed pro-Israeli views on social media, among other things, while the 23-year-old is said to have a pro-Palestinian attitude.
In an interview with “Zeit,” the 30-year-old’s companion contradicted the police’s account that there had been an argument. Rather, the attacker followed them out of the bar and spoke to the fellow student on the street about his political activism. The attacker then struck.
According to writer and comedian Shahak Shapira, the victim is his brother Lahav. The artist wrote on "This outcome was almost unavoidable and I feared it from the start."
Since Hamas' attack on Israel, Jewish students and teachers at the FU have repeatedly reported hostility, insults or threats. The FU faces accusations of inaction. Regarding the incident on Friday evening, the university said: "We are deeply affected. The Free University of Berlin stands for openness and tolerance and distances itself from any form of agitation and violence."
The board of the Jewish Student Union of Germany called for action from the university management, for example bans on the premises. "Finally stop relativizing or denying things. Finally draw conclusions against the anti-Semites!" said a letter published in the "Jüdische Allgemeine".
With the escalation in the Middle East brought about by Hamas, both the Federal Government's anti-Semitism commissioner and independent bodies such as the Berlin Anti-Semitism Research and Information Center recorded a sharp increase in anti-Semitic crimes in Germany.
After Friday's attack, Berlin's Governing Mayor Kai Wegner wrote to "Take action against anti-Semitism and intervene actively when such developments become apparent."
The police in the capital have now identified the 23-year-old suspect. His apartment was searched and, among other things, his smartphone was confiscated. Officials did not provide any further information about his identity. The State Security Office of the State Criminal Police Office has taken over the investigation.
Sources: Berlin Police, “Zeit”, Shahak Shapira, FU Berlin, “Jüdische Allgemeine”, Kai Wegner, DPA news agency.