Antisemitism as a Judicial Challenge

Law is an important instrument in combating antisemitism. But it is also a double-edged sword. On the one hand, law claims to be egalitarian and inclusive and promises protection from violence and discrimination. On the other hand, it can also be used as a means of antisemitic exclusion. The promise of protection is thus conditional: It is tied to terms and premises. Only phenomena that are recognized by the law as antisemitism can be fought through legal means. Therefore, it is crucial to develop a realistic and necessarily complex legal understanding that does justice to the dynamics and continuities of antisemitism’s diverse manifestations. However, legal definitions and normative concepts emerge from particular contexts and may even be based on prejudices or contain discriminatory restrictions. The promise of the law can lead to vulnerability or even secondary victimization. For example, when antisemitism is considered a purely historical phenomenon limited to the Nazi era, or when it is projected exclusively onto certain social groups, the judicial system remains blind to the dynamics and complexity of antisemitic denigration and marginalization.

How does the judiciary confront the phenomenon of antisemitism and what challenges does it face? There is little scholarly research on judicial practice regarding antisemitic incidents and on countering antisemitism through the judicial system. This project fills these gaps in scholarship by conducting systematic surveys of the judiciary’s handling of antisemitism and examining the (legal) definitions of antisemitism utilized by the German judiciary. The judiciary is not a homogeneous entity but rather one that forms complex institutional frameworks with its differentiated specialized jurisdictions and proceedings in which various participants play certain roles. In order to capture this complexity accurately, we will study the individual legal fields of criminal law, civil law, administrative law, as well as fundamental and human rights separately. This comparison will highlight the specifics and commonalities between the jurisdictions.

The following questions arise: How does the judiciary meet the challenges of a plurality of conceptualizations of antisemitism? Do the lively methodological debates on the legal recognition of antisemitism merely demonstrate intransigence? Or do they point to the need for grounding legal doctrine in transdisciplinary approaches? What role does a specific conception of state responsibility play in light of the German past? How does the judiciary contribute to curbing antisemitism? What obstacles do courts face when dealing with antisemitism? And how can these obstacles be overcome?

This project examines judicial practice from a transdisciplinary perspective with a particular emphasis on the sociology of the judiciary. The perspectives of the individuals affected, which are often neglected, will play a central role in this research. How do Jews involved in proceedings experience the way the judiciary handles antisemitism? We will also consider the experiences of the police, the public prosecutor’s office, legal advocacy, and the judiciary.

The project will build on these multidimensional perspectives to develop possible courses of action. We will prepare and communicate these recommendations with an application-oriented approach for both legal training and the judiciary.

  • Thilo Marauhn, Prof. Dr. (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen/FB Rechtswissenschaft)
  • Nina Keller-Kemmerer, Dr. (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen/FB Rechtswissenschaft)
  • Nike Naina Löbrich (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen/FB Rechtswissenschaft)
  • Helin Aldudak (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen/FB Rechtswissenschaft)
  • Anja Schmidt-Kleinert, Dr. (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen/FB Politikwissenschaft)
  • Ulrike Lembke, Prof. Dr. (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin/Lehrstuhl für Öffentliches Recht und Geschlechterstudien)
  • Laura Schwarz, Dipl.-Jur. (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin/Lehrstuhl für Öffentliches Recht und Geschlechterstudien)
  • Christoph Schuch (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin/Lehrstuhl für Öffentliches Recht und Geschlechterstudien)
  • Marc-Philippe Weller, Prof. Dr. (Universität Heidelberg/Institut für ausländisches und internationale Privat- und Wirtschaftsrecht)
  • Greta Goebel (Universität Heidelberg/Institut für ausländisches und internationale Privat- und Wirtschaftsrecht)
  • Olaf Glöckner, Dr. (Universität Potsdam/Moses Mendelssohn Zentrum für europäisch-jüdische Studien)
  • Daniel Poensgen (Bundesverband der Recherche- und Informationsstellen Antisemitismus e.V.)
  • Till Hendlmeier (Bundesverband der Recherche- und Informationsstellen Antisemitismus e.V.)


  • ASJust: Liz Mathy/Christoph Schuch/Laura Schwarz: Antisemitismus als rechter Abgrund , in: Kritische Justiz (KJ) 2024, Heft 1, S. 138-153, .

  • ASJust: Laura Schwarz: Strafbarkeit der Leugnung des Existenzrechts Israels – Regelungs- oder Anwendungsdefizit?, in: Zeitschrift für Rechtspolitik (ZRP), Heft 3, S. 95. .

  • ASJust: Christoph Schuch (Hrsg.): Antisemitismus und Recht. Interdisziplinäre Annäherungen, Bielefeld 2024:

Alle Publikationen


Prof. Dr. Thilo Marauhn

Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
FB Rechtswissenschaft
Licher Straße 72

35394 Gießen

Dr. Nina Keller-Kemmerer

Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
FB Rechtswissenschaft
Licher Straße 76

35394 Gießen

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Lembke

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Lehrstuhl für Öffentliches Recht und Geschlechterstudien
Bebelplatz 2

10117 Berlin

Prof. Dr. Marc-Philippe Weller

Universität Heidelberg
Institut für ausländisches und internationales Privat- und Wirtschaftsrecht
Augustinergasse 9

69117 Heidelberg

Dr. Olaf Glöckner

Moses Mendelssohn Zentrum für europäisch-jüdische Studien
Universität Potsdam
Am Neuen Markt 8

14467 Potsdam

Daniel Poensgen

Bundesverband der Recherche- und Informationsstellen Antisemitismus e.V.
Postfach 580 350
10413 Berlin