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May 12, 2021 12:12 pm
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Israeli Flags Burned Outside Two Synagogues in Germany, as European Jews Fear New Violence Fueled by Pro-Palestinian Demonstrations

avatar by Ben Cohen

(ILLUSTRATIVE) Demonstrators in Berlin brandish Turkish and Palestinian flags as they burn an Israeli flag during a 2017 protest. Photo: Jüdisches Forum für Demokratie und gegen Antisemitismus.

The escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is beginning to impact Jewish communities in Europe, where previous wars in Gaza and Lebanon during the last 20 years have triggered waves of antisemitic attacks.

In Germany, at least three antisemitic incidents have been reported to police since Monday. In the state of North-Rhine Westphalia, Israeli flags were burned by unidentified individuals outside synagogues in the cities of Bonn and Munster, while a memorial stone to a synagogue in Dusseldorf destroyed during the Nazi era was vandalized.

Local authorities said they were stepping up security outside Jewish institutions. The state’s Prime Minister, Armin Laschet, declared that “antisemitism, marginalization and discrimination have no place in Germany. Our commitment is: Never again. Never again violence and hatred against Jews.”

Laschet emphasized, “We stand on the side of Israel.”

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The head of the German Bishops Conference also issued a forthright condemnation of antisemitism following a meeting on Wednesday with the head of the German Jewish community, Josef Schuster.

Describing himself as “shaken” by the reports of attacks on synagogues, Bishop Georg Bätzing said he condemned “this form of protest in the strongest possible way.”

“We cannot allow a political conflict to be fueled by religious fanaticism,” Bätzing declared at a press conference in Frankfurt. “Attacks on synagogues are pure antisemitism that cannot be justified.”

The Bishop also voiced strong support for the State of Israel in the face of renewed rocket attacks on its civilian centers by Palestinian terrorist organizations in Gaza.

“Sheer terror is being directed against the people of Israel,” Bätzing said. “I look at the situation in the Holy Land with great concern and horror. The escalation of violence must end.”

In France, meanwhile, the main Jewish organization has urged the government to prevent pro-Palestinian demonstrations scheduled for this weekend from descending into antisemitic violence.

A statement from CRIF, the representative body of Jews in France, called on the French authorities “to ensure that the protests planned in France next Saturday will not turn into a surge of hatred and anti-Jewish violence, as was the case in 2014.”

At the height of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in July 2014, a weekend of antisemitic rioting described by one official as the “Paris intifada” witnessed attacks on synagogues and Jewish-owned stores. Hundreds of North African and Arab youths chanting “Death to Israel,” “Hitler was right,” and other antisemitic epithets took to the streets in violence that left the Jewish community reeling.

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