‘Hatred of Jews is Rising on German Streets’: Muslim Protestors Burn Israeli Flags and Chant Antisemitic Slogans at Ongoing Demonstrations
Antisemitic outrages and angry demonstrations vilifying Israel were reported in several German cities on Thursday, at the tail-end of a week that has already seen more than 20 people arrested for throwing stones and burning Israeli flags outside synagogues in the cities of Bonn and Munster.
In the northern port city of Bremen, more than 1,500 predominantly Muslim protestors gathered outside its medieval cathedral on Thursday afternoon. The crowd chanted slogans opposing Israel’s military operations in Gaza along with the Islamist cry “Allahu Akhbar” — “God is great.”
Police in Bremen expressed surprise and alarm at the number of protestors, having been told by the organizers of the rally that only 300 people would attend, in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions on public assembly.
Elsewhere in Germany on Thursday, the windows of a synagogue in Mannheim were smashed by stone-throwers. Israeli flags on public display in solidarity with the Jewish state were also targeted; in Solingen, an Israeli flag outside the town hall was set alight, while in Berlin, an Israeli flag flying outside the offices of the ruling CDU political party was ripped down.
Thursday’s events followed a terrifying display on Wednesday night in Gelsenkirchen, in western Germany, in which dozens of demonstrators waving Palestinian and Turkish flags launched into a loud, rhythmic chant of “Scheiß Jude! Scheiß Jude! Scheiß Jude!” (“Shitty Jew”) as they rallied outside a synagogue.
Footage of the demonstration on social media shared by the Central Council of Jews in Germany showed a crowd of nearly 200 protestors facing off with police as they shouted antisemitic invective and waved Turkish, Palestinian and Algerian flags.
“The time in which Jews could be insulted in the street should have past long ago,” the Council commented. “This is pure antisemitism, nothing else!”
Judenhass mitten in #Gelsenkirchen vor der #Synagoge. Zeiten, in denen Juden auf offener Straße beschimpft werden, sollten längst überwunden sein. Das ist purer #Antisemitismus, sonst nichts! pic.twitter.com/S98Puxl07N
— Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland (@ZentralratJuden) May 12, 2021
In its report of the Gelsenkirchen demonstration, the popular tabloid Bild also emphasized its unabashedly antisemitic nature.
“Mind you: You are not protesting against Israel, but against Jews – openly and clearly,” the paper remarked, under a headline that declared, “Hatred of Jews is Rising on German Streets.”
“You are not standing in front of a representation of the State of Israel — but in front of a Jewish house of prayer,” the paper continued.
According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism endorsed by several countries including Germany, “[H]olding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel” is antisemitic.
A separate anti-Israel protest in the northern city of Hanover on Wednesday was broken up by police after it threatened to turn violent.
Around 550 protestors participated in the march. Police prevented two men from setting fire to Israeli flags, which is an offense under Germany’s public order code, as are slogans and signs calling for the elimination of the Jewish state.
The Hanover march erupted in chanting of an Islamist anti-Jewish slogan that is often heard in the Arab world — “Khaybar Khaybar ya Yahud, jaysh Muḥammad sawf-a ya’ud” “(Khaybar Khaybar O Jews, the Army of Muhammad will return.”) The chant refers to the violent subjugation of Jewish tribes in Arabia in 628 by an army loyal to the prophet of Islam.
In Hanover as in the other German cities, Turkish as well as Palestinian flags were on prominent display at the protests.
Asked during a media interview on Thursday why the authorities had not prevented the burning of Israeli flags at several of the demonstrations, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas implied that a stronger response from law enforcement could now be expected.
“There can be zero tolerance for attacks on synagogues in our country,” Maas said. “And we are all challenged to make it clear that we will not accept people of the Jewish faith in Germany being held responsible for events in the Middle East – on the street as well as on social media.”
Maas continued: “As sad as it is to say that that this is even necessary: the state must guarantee the security of the synagogues with no ifs or buts.”