Protests in countries around the world have been seen over the last few weeks in London with as many as 45,000 protesters chanting “Free Palestine” on Saturday while other protests against Israel were seen in France as they were seen burning the Israel flag and a Jewish business in a suburb of Paris.
An uptick in anti-Semitic protests in Berlin, Germany on Saturday and throughout the Israel-Palestinian conflict that began on July 8, has been the most unnerving considering Germany’s fast-growing Jewish population since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The Jewish population has tripled to over 100,000.
The New York Times reported that about 30 Muslims gathered outside an empty Berlin synagogue calling on God to smite “Zionist Jews” bringing back disturbing memories like ghosts of the past.
“We’re aware that the world is watching us, how we’re handling the situation,” said Berlin police spokesman Stefan Redlich. He said one person had already been charged with incitement by shouting “Heilo Hitler!” during a protest. “It’s clearly part of the right of freedom of expression to criticize states that are waging wars. But it’s one thing to criticize the way Israel leads a war and another to call for people from Israel to get hurt. That’s the red line,” the Berlin policeman said.
The new wave of anti-Semitism has alarmed politicians in Germany who have said the outbreak of protests against Israel should be stopped.
Meanwhile organizers have been seen using a bullhorns to yell out what protesters can and cannot do during their pro-Palestinian rallies. The new rules have been ordered by the police in Berlin.
An organizer was heard yelling, “No burning the Israeli flag, no shouts of death to Israel.” No repeating the slogan “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the anti-Semitic protests saying “These outbursts and statements are an attack on freedom and tolerance and an attempt to destabilize our free democratic order. We cannot and will not accept this. . . . The security authorities are taking every attack onto a Jewish institution very seriously. Anti-Semitic acts are being prosecuted consequently and by all legal means.”
Leila El Abtah, 29, the daughter of a Palestinian father and a German mother insists the protesters are being misinterpreted as hate speech making Germans feel uncomfortable. “There are more of us speaking out about Israel now,” Abtah said. “Because of what happened during Hitler’s day, it is making Germans nervous.”
The outburst of anti-Semitism in Germany since the conflict Israel-Palestinian conflict in Gaza has stirred up painful memories for the people in Berlin adding an element of fear throughout the Jewish population of more than 100,000. The Central Council of Jews in Germany has received hundreds of calls from Jewish people living in Germany asking if they should leave the country.
“I have not heard that for many years,” said Dieter Graumann, the council president. “When calls for Jews to be gassed, burned and murdered are bawled on the streets of Germany, that no longer has anything to do with Israel’s politics and Gaza. It is the most abhorrent form of anti-Semitism.”