Synagogues attacked in Germany, Tunisia

On Oct. 18, unknown assailants targeted a Berlin synagogue with Molotov cocktails, while rioters in Tunisia burned down the historic El Hamma synagogue. Berlin police reported that two unidentified persons threw the Molotov cocktails at the Kahal Adass Jisroel synagogue in the center of the city. No casualties or significant property damage were reported. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned the attack and promised to protect the country's Jewish communities, saying, "Anti-Semitism has no place in Germany." He also noted in later comments that the legacy of the Holocaust means Germany must be extra vigilant. The Kahal Adass Jisroel community was resolute, with the synagogue's chairperson saying, "We will live on, we will be strong, we will stay."

In Tunisia, video circulated on social media of rioters burning down the 16th century El Hamma synagogue in the city of Gabes. Videos from the following day showed the building's destruction. Although El Hamma synagogue no longer functioned as a house of worship, it held major symbolic significance for Tunisian Jews, who are still shaken from a May shooting at the Ghriba Synagogue in Djerba, the oldest in Africa.

Tunisia historically had a significant Jewish population: Jews have lived in the country for over 2,000 years, and numbered over 100,000 on the cusp of Israel's founding in 1948. Since then, however, migration to Israel has dwindled Tunisia's Jewish population to only about 1,500.

The incidents in Berlin and Gabes come amid mass protests across the Arab world over the Israeli siege and bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Escalating anti-Semitic, islamophobic and other dehumanizing rhetoric across the globe prompted UN Secretary-General António Guterres to address this issue. He said on social media Oct. 14, "Dehumanizing language that incites violence is never acceptable. I call on all leaders to speak out against Antisemitism, anti-Muslim bigotry and hate speech of all kinds."

In the US, the FBI has reported an increase in threats to both Jewish and Muslim communities. There have also been instances of actual violence, including the Oct. 14 murder of a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy in Chicago named Wadea Al-Fayoume. At a press conference, the Chicago branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemned Wadea's killing and urged community leaders to do more to control hateful rhetoric and violence. The Jewish Federations of North America also condemned the incident, saying "Hatred, prejudice, and violence have no place in our society."

From Jurist, Oct. 20. Used with permission.

Houses of worship hit in Israeli air-strikes

At least two houses of worship have been struck in Israeli air-strikes in the ongoing bombing campaign. On Oct. 20, a strike killed and injured a "large number" of displaced people sheltering in the historic Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church in Gaza City. (Al Jazeera) Then, Oct. 22, a strike targeted al-Ansar mosque in the West Bank town of Jenin, with at least two killed. The IDF issued a statement on the Jenin strike, saying the mosque was being used by militant groups. (Al Jazeera)

President of Detroit synagogue stabbed to death

The president of a Detroit synagogue board was found dead Pct. 21 morning with multiple stab wounds outside her home, police said. The victim, Samantha Woll, was the president of the board of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, which is in downtown Detroit, the synagogue said in a Facebook post. (CNN) Detroit police have requested FBI assistance in investigating the murder. (ToI)

Warsaw synagogue firebombed

Poland's political leaders have condemned a firebomb attack on a synagogue in Warsaw. The Nozyk Synagogue in the capital was attacked with three firebombs early on May 1. The building sustained minimal damage, and there were no casualties. (Al Jazeera)

Man shot dead after French synagogue set on fire

French police have killed a man after a synagogue was set on fire in the north-western city of Rouen. The man was armed with a knife and a metallic tool and was shot after he threatened officers, the Rouen prosecutor said.

Rouen Mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol said the attack on the synagogue did not just affect the Jewish community, but the entire city was "battered and in shock."

Reports say the suspect was Algerian and was appealing against an order to leave France. (BBC News)

Four days earlier, the Wall of the Righteous at the Shoah Memorial in Paris was vandalized, with several images of hands in red paint. The he memorial honors those who saved Jews during the 1940-44 Nazi occupation of France. The day of the attack, May 14, marked the anniversary of the first major round-up of French Jews under the Nazis in 1941. (AFP)

Anti-Semitic harassment in London's Jewish enclave

An anti-Semitic incident occurred in the heart of the British capital when a woman armed with a knife threatened passers-by in the center of Stamford Hill, one of London's largest Jewish neighborhoods.

The woman was filmed shouting at a man in orhtodox Jewish garb, "You are to blame for all the problems in the world. You always start fights! Who started World War II? The Jews!"

Officers from the Metropolitan Police arrived at the scene and arrested the woman, threatening her with a taser and instructing her to lie on the ground. The woman was taken into custody "for questioning." (EJC, Israel Hayom)