German Jews upset about government group on anti-semitism

Berlin - Leading Jewish groups on Tuesday criticized the German government for creating a new commission on anti-Semitism without including a single Jew.

Julius Schoeps from the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies called it "a unique scandal" that the Interior Ministry didn't include any Jewish scientists or community leaders on the commission it created to fight anti-Semitism and support Jewish life in Germany.

Schoeps announced that his center, in cooperation with the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Amadeu Antonio Foundation against anti-Semitism and racism, would create an alternative commission that would stress the Jewish perspective and include both Jewish and non-Jewish experts.

Anetta Kahane from the Amadeu Antonio Foundation also criticized the government for neglecting to call Jewish experts on the eight-person committee, saying "nobody would even think of creating a conference on hatred of Islam without Muslims or a round table on the discrimination of women without women."

A spokeswoman for Germany's Interior Ministry told The Associated Press that the question of religious affiliation of the experts on the commission was not a criterion in the selection process.

The spokeswoman, who did not give her name in line with department policy, added that the commission would listen to and invite various Jewish groups during the fact-finding process.

The final report by the new commission is scheduled to be handed over to Germany's parliament within two years. It is supposed to be the basis for a discussion on how to tackle anti-Semitism.

It's the second time the government has installed a commission to deal with anti-Semitism. Some Jewish leaders have criticized the earlier commission's report, released in 2011, for not bringing about any changes for the situation of Jews in Germany.

Germany has seen an increase in anti-Semitic incidents recently, starting when the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza intensified last year.