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Germany’s top official tasked with combating antisemitism warned on Thursday that “Jews and Israel” have become the main targets in a flurry of hate speech that is grounded in the coronavirus pandemic.

“Unfortunately, it is not surprising that Jews and Israel are the main targets,” Felix Klein — the federal commissioner appointed by the German government in 2018 amidst rising antisemitism — told the Berlin news outlet Der Taggespiegel.

“Antisemitic hate speech is spreading quickly on the internet, particularly on the popular social media platforms,” Klein said.

Antisemitic offenses in Germany reached a record peak in 2019, with 1,839 hate crimes targeting Jews recorded.

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The offenses in 2019 broke down into an average of five attacks on Jews every day, with the majority of crimes attributed to neo-Nazis and other far-right group, and with Islamists mainly responsible for the remaining offenses.

Klein remarked that no claim was too absurd for the antisemitic trolls online.

“They are talking about a Jewish takeover of the world economy, Jews profiting from a possible coronavirus vaccine, biological weapons developed by Israel, a Jewish attempt to reduce the world’s population,” Klein said. “The crudest antisemitism is paving the way.”

Klein urged internet users to pressure social media platforms into acting against antisemitic and racist incitement to the police.

“Each individual can make a difference by reporting antisemitic defamation to the operator of the platform,” he said.

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