President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Sunday it was an outrage that Germany’s Jewish institutions had required enhanced security protection since Hamas’s attack on Israel two weeks ago, urging attendees at a rally to stand against antisemitism.
The Holocaust meant that Germany had a particular responsibility to protect Jewish lives, Steinmeier told a solidarity rally convened in Berlin by its five main democratic parties, its Jewish community, trade unions and employers’ organisations.
“Our democracy makes no distinction: regardless of origins, experience or religion, everyone who lives here must know Auschwitz and understand the responsibility that our country has because of it,” he said.
Every attack against Jewish residents or institutions in Germany was an “outrage”, Steinmeier added.
Since Hamas’s deadly incursion and reprisal attacks by Israeli forces, Germany has witnessed a series of protests in support both of Israel and Gaza, at some of which antisemitic slogans were heard.
The country is home to some of Europe’s largest Jewish and Palestinian communities.
Over the past two weeks, Stars of David have been daubed on some buildings and a petrol bomb was thrown at a synagogue in central Berlin. Some Jewish parents have stopped taking their children to school out of fears for their safety.
Israel’s ambassador and relatives of German hostages taken by Hamas also addressed the rally, which organisers said drew some 25,000 participants.
Though most pro-Palestinian protests have been explicit that their focus is on the humanitarian situation in Gaza and not in support of Hamas, all but two have been banned, with police using pepper spray to disperse gatherings, prompting accusations of discrimination.
Steinmeier said terror was also impacting people on the Gaza Strip “whose interests Hamas only pretends to represent.”
Police on Sunday dispersed a banned pro-Palestinian protest taking place nearby, arresting some participants.
Source : Reuters