Two people were killed in a failed anti-Semitic assault on a synagogue Oct. 9 in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur, considered by Jews to be one of the most sacred days of the year. Heavily armed Stephan Balliet, 27, from Benndorf, attempted to get into the synagogue while uttering anti-Semitic slurs. He live-streamed the attack through a camera he wore on a helmet.
More than 70 people in the temple escaped as Balliet’s homemade ordinance, including an improvised bomb aimed at the door, failed to work. He then went on a rampage in the streets, killing a 40-year-old woman who yelled at him and a 20-year-old-man when he attacked a nearby Turkish kebab shop. Two others were wounded.
“The Holocaust never happened,” Balliet ranted in a video played on the Internet. “The root of all these problems is the Jew.” Prior to the attack, he posted an anti-Semitic manifesto online in English, saying, “If I fail and die but kill a single Jew, it was worth it.”
To pay tribute to those killed, some 2,000 people on Oct. 11 organized a human chain outside the synagogue. The day before hundreds held a vigil there and hundreds more gathered in memorial at the city center. A moment of silence was observed at the Germany-Argentina soccer match in Dortmund and another vigil was held outside Berlin’s New Synagogue.
The Halle temple was built after the second imperialist world war to replace its original synagogue, destroyed during Nazi pogroms in 1938. It was fortified in 2012 after a rabbi and three children were killed by an anti-Semitic gunman at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.
The Jewish community in Halle had asked authorities for protection for Yom Kippur. The cops declined. “It is scandalous that the synagogue in Halle was not protected,” said Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
Speak out against Jew-hatred
“There is an increase in attacks against Jews by isolated rightists. Some in the middle-class left oppose the existence of Israel today. These attacks will grow, if not fought by the working class and its organizations,” Malcolm Jarrett, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Pittsburgh Council, told the Militant. “And history has shown that the capitalist rulers will turn to Jew-hatred in increasingly deadly ways as their crisis deepens, seeking to make Jews a scapegoat to turn the eyes of workers away from the actual source of the carnage they face — which is capitalism itself.
“But at the same time, there is less racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and anti-Semitism among working people today than at any time in history,” he said. Last October, Jarrett joined thousands of working people in Pittsburgh at vigils and other activities after 11 Jews were killed in an anti-Semitic massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue there.
Just three days before the attack in Halle, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government told the press that Tehran’s threats to destroy Israel are not an expression of anti-Semitism. This followed a speech given in late September by Gen. Hossein Salami, commander-in-chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards, where he said Israel “must be wiped off the map.”
“This same false distinction is used by some on the middle-class left in the U.S. to claim calling for the destruction of the state of Israel isn’t anti-Semitism,” Jarrett said. “The SWP supports the existence of Israel as a refuge for Jews. Jew-hatred will only be ended once and for all when working people take power and begin to organize society in the interests of the vast majority.”