German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the president's residence in Jerusalem, Israel, 25 February 2014. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the president's residence in Jerusalem, Israel. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

A protest against the recent wave of anti-Semitism was held in Germany on Sunday.  The year 2014 has seen a spike in anti-Semitic activity across the globe. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel led a rally in Berlin on Sunday against anti-Semitism, after Operation Protective Edge sparked an upsurge of anti-Jewish attacks in Germany and throughout Europe.

German President Joachim Gauck, other political and religious leaders and thousands of people attended the rally under the banner “Stand Up: Jew Hatred – Never Again!” at the Brandenburg Gate.

Speaking to the gathering, Chancellor Merkel condemned any form of anti-Semitism in Germany and Europe: “That people in Germany are threatened and abused because of their Jewish appearance or their support for Israel is an outrageous scandal that we won’t accept,” the Jerusalem Post reports. “It’s our national and civic duty to fight anti-Semitism. Anyone who hits someone wearing a skullcap is hitting us all. Anyone who damages a Jewish gravestone is disgracing our culture. Anyone who attacks a synagogue is attacking the foundations of our free society.”

Dr. Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, stressed that anti-Israel activity was actually anti-Semitism in disguise: “This latest ant-Semitic outbreak began with the Gaza war,” he said. “But what does one have to do with the other? When we hear, in German streets, shouts of ‘Jews should be gassed,’ or ‘burned,’ or ‘slaughtered,’ this has nothing to do with criticism of Israeli policies. This is pure, unadulterated anti-Semitism, and nothing else,” the Jerusalem Post quotes.

‘Despite Our Dark 20th Century History’

Merkel, in her latest weekly podcast, vowed to “personally do everything I can, as will my entire government, to ensure that anti-Semitism doesn’t have a chance in our country.”

“We can see that there is not a single Jewish institution here that doesn’t require police protection…That’s something that very much concerns me,” AFP reports.

“Unfortunately, recent weeks have shown that anti-Semitism and racism rear its ugly head again and again in this country despite our dark 20th century history,” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told The Ruhr Nachrichten. “We must resolutely confront this.”

A poster depicting PM Netanyahu and Palestinian flags in front of the Israeli embassy in Berlin. (Photo: Anti Defamation League)

A poster depicting PM Netanyahu and Palestinian flags in front of the Israeli embassy in Berlin. (Photo: Anti Defamation League)

Plague of Anti-Semitism

During the height of Operation Protective Edge, Germany and Europe were plagued with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic demonstrations, during which calls for “gassing the Jews” and the Nazi “Zig-Heil” were chanted.

A Molotov-cocktail was hurled at a synagogue in the western city of Wuppertal. Three people, described as “Palestinian” nationals, were arrested in connection with the attack, the German Die Welt reported.

Germany’s Jewish community condemned the “explosion of evil and violent hatred of Jews.” Levi Salomon, spokesman of the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism, told AFP that after “outrageously anti-Semitic” chants drew widespread political and media condemnation, rally organizers merely shifted their language from attacking “Jews” to “Zionists.” Although the street protests were dominated by young Muslim men, Salomon pointed out in an essay, they also drew support from an alliance of “neo-Nazis, Israel-boycott activists, left anti-imperialist and Islamist groups under the banner of hatred.”

“The trigger for the flare-up of anti-Semitism was the escalation in the Middle East, but the cause was the anti-Semitism that remains rooted in large parts of German society,” he wrote.

Sharp Increase in Attacks Against Jews

Germany was not the only country to witness a violent wave of anti-Semitism, which has spiked and reached new heights across the world, especially in Europe, in recent months.

A report released by the Anti-Defamation League last week states that Jewish people and institutions in the Diaspora were targeted for violence, threats and vicious lies this summer, all under the pretext of outrage over Operation Protective Edge.

The Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), citing figures compiled by the French Interior Ministry, reported that a total of 529 anti-Semitic acts were registered throughout July, as opposed to 276 during the same period last year. The acts included violence against individuals, arson and vandalism, and “exacerbate the growing unease that oppresses Jews in France each day and overshadows their future”, CRIF said in a statement.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Community Security Trust (CST) anti-Semitism watchdog organization reported 302 anti-Semitic incidents in July, a staggering 400-percent increase over the same month last year.

A World Zionist Organization study in August found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the world jumped by 383 percent in July as compared to the same month the previous year, with Europe showing a 436-percent increase.

Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel