Thursday, April 18th | 10 Nisan 5784

April 26, 2022 3:20 pm

Following Antisemitic Incitement at Pro-Palestinian Rally, Berlin Politicians Urge Tougher Police Crackdown

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avatar by Ben Cohen

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Berlin displaying the national flags of Algeria and Morocco. Photo: Reuters/Michael Kuenne/PRESSCOV/Sipa US

Muslim activists in Germany who chanted antisemitic slogans at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Berlin last Saturday were motivated not by a personal connection to the conflict, but by their exposure to bigoted religious and media messages, a leading Middle Eastern expert on Islamism said on Tuesday.

Ahmad Mansour — an Israeli-Arab psychologist who is based in the German capital — told Berlin’s BZ news outlet that the outbursts of antisemitic invective at pro-Palestinian rallies in the Kreuzberg and Neukölln districts came from participants with “no biographical proximity” to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

“It’s the methods of upbringing, religious understandings, education and media that work every day to further fuel this hatred,” observed Mansour, who recently led an investigation into allegations of antisemitism at the Arabic-language service of Deutsche Welle, Germany’s taxpayer-funded broadcaster.

In a separate interview with German radio, Mansour remarked that while schools in Germany educated students about the Nazi Holocaust, scant attention is paid to the antisemitism that crystallizes around the hatred of Israel. Given the profusion of antisemitic conspiracy theories, educators had “a lot of catching up to do,” Mansour said.

Saturday’s angry demonstration in Berlin witnessed clashes between protestors and police officers as well as a physical assault upon journalist Peter Wilke of the German daily Bild. Wilke was escorted by police officers out of the protest after being encircled by a group of participants screaming: “Du Jude! Dreckiger Jude! Drecksjude” (“dirty Jew”).

Fallout from the weekend’s events continued on Tuesday, with several Berlin politicians demanding that the police should actively prevent such spectacles in the future.

The city’s antisemitism commissioner, Samuel Salzborn, said that the police were empowered to break up gatherings that incite hatred, and that the hostility at Saturday’s demonstration was directed at all Jews. “The core of these gatherings is antisemitism,” Salzborn argued.

Tom Schreiber of the center-left SPD Party took a similar position. “The freedom to demonstrate is rightly protected to a particularly high degree,” Schreiber said on Tuesday. “Nevertheless, such gatherings don’t take place in a legal vacuum.”

Continued Schreiber: “The statements that we heard at the weekend are shameful and, above all, punishable. The perpetrators must be identified and clear judgments must be made.”

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Germany are staged and attended in the main by activists from the Muslim community. Antisemitic outrages have frequently been reported, particularly during the fighting last May between Israel and the Hamas terror organization in Gaza. Nearly half of the more than 3,000 antisemitic crimes reported in Germany during 2021 occurred in the second quarter of the year. On May 15 alone — marked by Palestinian rejectionists as “Naqba Day” to protest the “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding — 59 antisemitic incidents were reported in tandem with the 30 pro-Palestinian demonstrations that were mounted nationwide.

However, the annual “Al Quds Day” rally — an international event supported by the Iranian regime that advocates for the violent elimination of the State of Israel — has been canceled this year, as was also the case in 2020 and 2021. Organizers decided to shut down the event in anticipation of a likely ban by Iris Spranger, Berlin’s Interior Minister, who has long sought to prevent Al Quds Day protests in the capital.

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