Hasidic Men Detained for… Being Jewish?

Sixteen Hasidic Jewish men were detained in Germany’s Frankfurt Airport under “prison-like” conditions without explanation. The detainment began when a group of five ultra-Orthodox men were stopped at German border control, followed by the isolation of eleven other individual men with a visible Jewish identity. Along with being harshly interrogated, all of the men had their passports confiscated, some had their phones taken away, and none of the men were offered food or water for the 10 hours they were detained, according to worldisraelnews.com. “We begged for a cup of water…they brought us a few cups of water, literally holding the water so it doesn’t spill on the way out…the way you feed your dog,” one man recalled. One of the detained men shared his story with The Jerusalem Post:

“As soon as I gave my papers over to the officer, he looks at me, he says to me, ‘Are you all five together?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ And he said, ‘You need to step aside.’ Two more people who are on our flight arrive there. They went over with their papers and immediately were told to stand next to us as well. So, we immediately saw that this is a Jewish thing. Nobody [else] was stopped for more than a minute. Looked at the document, ‘Next.’ Seven Jews, Hasidic Jews, were told to stand aside.”

It was only after one of the men called the U.S. Embassy in Frankfurt and reached a consular official that things started to change. They learned the authorities had suspected their documents were fraudulent. “The Germans were not happy about hearing from the American government,” the man who called the embassy said. “They realized that there would be accountability from a higher power so they started making things up to cover themselves.” The men were given no apology or explanation when they were finally released, and the German authorities tried to force the men to sign forms agreeing that they would not hold the German government liable for their ordeal, according to worldisraelnews.com. Some of the men refused to sign.

This feels like a scene out of 1930s Germany, yet this happened just last week. I’m not sure how those authorities can try to justify detaining only ultra-Orthodox Jewish men on suspicion of fraud, especially when not all the men were even travelling as a group. They were just picked out of the crowd for the way they looked. Nothing about the German authorities’ reasoning adds up, and these men have every right to seek justice for the authorities’ actions. Anti-Semitism is powerful even today, and we can’t turn a blind eye to it and pretend it ended with the Holocaust. We must continue to pray for the safety of the Jewish people in a world full of those who hate them without cause.