Antisemitism raises its head at pro-Palestinian march in Berlin

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters snaked through the streets of the German capital in the annual “al-Quds Day” march shouting antisemitic and anti-Israel slogans against the backdrop of rising concerns about antisemitism in the country.

Of the 2,000 banner and flag-waving protesters in the al-Quds march, some chanted “Child murderer Israel” and “Zionism is racism,” while others in the same protest expressed support for Palestinians with signs reading “Free Gaza” and “Palestine will be reborn!”.

At the same time, demonstrators sought to dispel accusations they were anti-Jewish by shouting, “Antisemitism is a disgrace.”

The march came as German officials, from the president to the country’s antisemitism commissioner, called on people to show solidarity with Israel and Jews at a time antisemitic crimes in Germany have increased.

Others, including the Central Council of Jews in Germany – the country’s EJC affiliate – called for the al-Quds march to be banned.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable that, in 2019, we hear antisemitic, anti-Jewish slogans in Germany,” Antisemitism Commissioner Felix Klein told DW ahead of the al-Quds march.

“We should all stand up against that. We should unite as German society, saying we do not accept any form of antisemitism here.”

An estimated 600 pro-Israel counter-protesters — made up of anti-fascists, feminists, LGBT+ supporters, members of the Iranian opposition and others of various persuasions — also took to the streets against the al-Quds protests.

Their causes ranged from calling for regime change in Iran and condemning Hamas and Hezbollah to showing support for Israel and expressing concern over antisemitism in Germany.

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