Tags: Europe | Israel | anti-Semitism

European Leaders Condemn Anti-Semitism at Protests

European Leaders Condemn Anti-Semitism at Protests
Protesters opposed to Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip clash with riot police in Paris on July 19.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014 10:49 PM EDT

European leaders warned against a rise in anti-Semitism in the region after some protests over Israeli military action gave way to racist slogans.

French President Francois Hollande called on protesters to maintain calm today during a march in Paris following attacks in the last week on Jewish institutions, while German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said racism against Jews in his country would not be tolerated.

“The state of Israel’s right to exist can under no circumstance be called into question,” de Maiziere told German broadcaster NDR. “There must be just as little room in the German public for open or concealed hatred of Jews.”

Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip and fighting that has killed more than 600 people, the overwhelming majority of them Palestinians, has unleashed protests in Europe. Some of the rallies have included antisemitic chanting and even turned violent, drawing condemnation from lawmakers across the political spectrum.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his German and Italian counterparts, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Federica Mogherini, issued a joint press release in Brussels yesterday condemning the antisemitic “statements, demonstrations and attacks” in the past week as having “no place” in Europe.

“The challenge will be to translate the clear words into equally clear actions,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee. “Threats to Europe’s Jews threaten Europe’s core values and very future.”

Defying a ban in France on pro-Palestinian marches, between 6,000 and 7,000 people demonstrated in Paris’s Barbes district July 19, prompting police to use tear gas and leading to the arrest of 44 people.

The following day in Sarcelles, a town just north of the French capital with both Jewish and Muslim communities, youths vandalized Jewish shops and burned parked cars. Military police guarded a synagogue as 18 people were arrested trying to attack the house of worship.

“This is a first, we have never seen such hate, such a willful attack on the community,” Sarcelles Mayor Francois Pupponi said on BFM TV. “It’s very worrying.”

The outbreak of violence comes weeks after French police arrested Mehdi Nemmouche as the prime suspect in the murder of three people at a Jewish museum in Brussels.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said such events “are deep injuries that are a concern for all” and that “there is great worry within France’s Jewish population.”

Hollande has repeatedly warned against the risk of importing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into his country, which, at 600,000, has Europe’s largest Jewish community, as well as more than 6.5 million Muslims.

In Berlin, police pledged to take action against demonstrators using an antisemitic slogan following criticism that authorities didn’t initially react when the chant was used.

A crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters in the capital used the slogan — “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone” — during a protest on July 17, police spokesman Stefan Redlich said. He said a Jewish man had to be protected from potential attacks by demonstrators on July 19.

“These phrases can be considered public incitement as defined by German law,” Redlich said. Protesters chanting “Death to Israel” could also potentially be fined, he said.

Anti-Semitic speech, including denial of the Nazi regime’s murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust during World War II, is punishable as a crime in Germany, where synagogues and Jewish institutions are regularly guarded by police.

Authorities in the German capital are also looking into a suspected anti-Semitic sermon at one of the city’s mosques after 15 criminal complaints were filed, according to Berlin’s interior ministry.

The complaints stemmed from a video posted on YouTube that showed an unidentified imam condemning Israel, using language that accused “Zionist Jews” of being “slayers of prophets” and calling for the destruction of Jews.

“There is no place in our country or our city for antisemitism,” Berlin’s state interior minister, Frank Henkel, said in a statement. “Germany as well as Berlin have a historical responsibility to protect the state of Israel.”

Dieter Graumann, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said concrete criticism of Israeli government action had given way to open racist hatred against Jews and called for public condemnation of antisemitism in Germany.

“We are currently experiencing an explosion of potentially violent hatred against Jews that is shocking and appalling to all of us,” Graumann said in a statement. “We would never have expected in our lifetime that such antisemitic rallying cries of the most vicious and primitive variety could take place on German streets.”

© Copyright 2024 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

European leaders warned against a rise in anti-Semitism in the region after some protests over Israeli military action gave way to racist slogans.
Europe, Israel, anti-Semitism
Tuesday, 22 July 2014 10:49 PM
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