The German government urged people to wear the Jewish kippa in the wake of an upcoming anti-Israel protest, backtracking on the warning that Jewish people should conceal their religious identity and avoid wearing the religious skullcap.
Felix Klein, the government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, sparked international controversy after saying in an interview with a regional press group that he “cannot recommend to Jews that they wear the skullcap at all times everywhere in Germany.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin promptly called out the German government, saying it shows that Jews are increasingly unsafe in the country and called the statement a “capitulation to anti-Semitism.”
“We will never submit, will never lower our gaze and will never react to anti-Semitism with defeatism — and expect and demand our allies act in the same way.”
“The statement of the German government’s anti-Semitism commissioner that it would be preferable for Jews not wear a kippa in Germany out of fear for their safety, shocked me deeply,” Rivlin’s statement said.
“We will never submit, will never lower our gaze and will never react to anti-Semitism with defeatism -- and expect and demand our allies act in the same way.”
U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell also condemned the statement and urged Jewish people and others to wear a kippa.
“The opposite is true. Wear your kippa. Wear your friend’s kippa. Borrow a kippa and wear it for our Jewish neighbors. Educate people that we are a diverse society,” he tweeted.
Grenell later shared the front page on Germany’s Bild newspaper that provided a cut-out-and-use kippa for everyone to wear and stand against anti-Semitism in the country.
On Monday, the German state backtracked on the warning following the intervention by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“The state must see to it that the free exercise of religion is possible for all... and that anyone can go anywhere in our country in full security wearing a kippa," Steffen Seibert, her spokesman, told a press conference.
“The state must see to it that the free exercise of religion is possible for all... and that anyone can go anywhere in our country in full security wearing a kippa."
Klein, meanwhile, now urged all Germans to wear “the kippa next Saturday if there are new, intolerable attacks targeting Israel and Jews on the occasion of al-Quds day in Berlin.”
The al-Quds day is an annual anti-Israel day that was created by the Iranian regime that protests against the state of Israel and its control of Jerusalem.
Germany, similar to the rest of Europe, has been suffering from an increasing number of anti-Semitic attacks and a rise in white supremacist, neo-Nazi groups.
Government data indicated that anti-Semitic crimes increased by 20 percent in Germany last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.