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December 19, 2017 11:53 am

German Parliamentarian Calls for Deportation of Foreigners Who Burn Israeli Flags at Demonstrations

avatar by Ben Cohen

Demonstrators in Berlin brandish Turkish and Palestinian flags as they burn an Israeli flag. Photo: Jüdisches Forum für Demokratie und gegen Antisemitismus.

A prominent German member of parliament from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party has called for the deportation of foreigners in the country who torch Israeli flags at demonstrations.

“If foreigners living in Germany burn Israeli flags, there must be a legal basis for their immediate expulsion,” parliamentarian Armin Schuster told German media outlets on Monday.

Schuster’s demand followed a spate of angry protests across the country against US President Donald Trump’s December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; as well as the burning of Israeli flags, antisemitic chants such as “Death to the Jews” and “Down with Israel” were also heard, including at one gathering at Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate.

German law already permits the rapid expulsion of foreigners who are sentenced to more than one year in prison, or who engage in drug dealing, the German website Welt noted.

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Schuster’s demand comes as Germany’s senior politicians deliberate on whether to create a special commissioner to deal with rising antisemitism. The proposal already has the support of Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, who told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday that “every criminal act motivated by anti-Semitism is one too many, and a shame for our country.”

The interior minister went on to characterize the recent burnings of Israeli flags as “the symbolic destruction of a country’s right to exist.” Meanwhile, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a Hanukkah party at the Israeli Embassy in Berlin this week that the rejection of antisemitism was “non-negotiable” for any foreigner wanting to live in Germany.

“[N]o exceptions can be made for immigrants. It is non-negotiable — for all who live in Germany and want to live here!” Steinmeier declared.

On Tuesday, more politicians joined the call for the creation of a federal antisemitism commissioner — a proposal originally floated by both the left-wing Green Party and the Central Council of Jews in Germany. Among them were Gitta Connemann — the deputy head of the CDU Group in the German parliament, who expressed her “strong support” — and Justice Minister Heiko Maas.

In an interview with German radio on Tuesday, Maas argued that the antisemitism commissioner’s post should already have been created, given the “regrettable” persistence of anti-Jewish bigotry in the country.

Maas also addressed the problem of antisemitism among the Muslim immigrant population.”We have antisemitism on the far-right, which is growing here in Germany,” Maas said. “And we also have imported antisemitism, which is brought to Germany by people who come from other countries of the world.”

Maas asserted that education against antisemitism needed to be an “integral part” of government programs to integrate new arrivals. Antisemitism in the Muslim community was a serious test of Germany’s “zero-tolerance” approach to the problem, Maas said, given his country’s “special responsibility to our Jewish fellow citizens, to Judaism in general, and also to the State of Israel.”

Josef Schuster — the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, which represents the country’s 150,000-strong community — observed in a separate interview that “most attacks” on Jews in Germany “actually come from right-wing extremists,” while “most anti-Jewish demonstrations and the loudest antisemitic slurs have come from the Muslim community for some time.” Schuster said that the creation of an antisemitism commissioner would not in itself resolve the problem, but “it would make it clear that the question is really taken seriously and fundamentally addressed.”

Earlier this year, the German government officially adopted the definition of antisemitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Under the definition, calls for the elimination of Israel and the charge that Jews are collectively responsible for Israel’s actions constitute antisemitism.

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