German police repeatedly punch Israeli victim of antisemitic assault in a case of mistaken identity

Officers had been called after a man repeatedly knocked the kippah off Israeli university professor Yitzhak Yohanan Melamed's head


An Israeli philosophy professor has accused German police of punching him multiple times and wrongly arresting him when he reported an antisemitic attack against him in the city of Bonn.

Yitzhak Yohanan Melamed, who teaches at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, said his face was left bleeding and glasses broken after officers pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him — but they had caught the wrong man.

The police had been called after a man repeatedly knocked the kippah off Prof Melamed's head while he was walking with a colleague in the city’s Hofgarten park last Wednesday.

“A stocky man about 1.60 meters tall approached us and asked me Bist Du Jude? (‘Are you Jewish?’) and then, added that he is Palestinian,” Prof Melamed said in a post on Facebook.

“I started saying that I have sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians and deeply regret the current depressing state of Islamic-Jewish relations, when the person (realizing that I am a foreigner) started shouting in English: ‘I f**k Jews. I f**k Jews.’”

Prof Melamed recounted how the attacker grabbed his kippah and threw it to the ground on three occasions, shouting “No. You are not allowed to have the yarmulke here” and “No Jews in Germany”.

But he said the attacker began to flee as police arrived on the scene and, when Prof Melamed gave chase, officers proceeded to apprehend the wrong man.

“I didn’t have much time to wonder, as almost immediately four or five policemen with heavy guard jumped over me,” he wrote on Facebook.

“They pushed my head into the ground, and then while I was totally incapacitated and barely able to breathe … they started punching my face.

“After a few dozen punches, I started shouting in English that I was the wrong person.”

His handcuffs were subsequently removed and Prof Melamed voluntarily visited the local police station to give evidence and file a complaint against the officers.

One officer said to him in English not to "get in trouble" with the German police, he said.

“This was more than enough. I told the policeman sardonically, ‘I am no longer afraid of the German police. The German police murdered my grandfather. They murdered my grandmother. They murdered my uncle, and they murdered my aunt. All in one day in September 1942. So, alas, I am not afraid of them anymore.’”

Bonn Police Chief Ursula Brohl-Sowa visited Prof Melamed at his hotel the following morning to apologise for her officers’ actions and for suggesting in an early police statement that he had resisted arrest.

The antisemitic attacker was identified as a 20-year-old substance abuser with mental health problems, police said.

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