Europe's Anti-Israel Protests Do Not Bode Well For Future Conflicts
By Soeren Kern/Gatestone InstituteMay 22, 2021
Share this article:
Pro-Palestinian demonstrations in cities across Europe have descended into unrestrained orgies of anti-Semitism after protesters opposed to Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip openly called for the destruction of Israel and death to Jews.
The protesters, numbering in the tens-to-the-hundreds of thousands, include a hodgepodge of anarchists, hard-left anti-Israel activists and immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. Many demonstrators -- carrying flags of Muslim countries, including Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey and Syria, as well as the green flag of the Islamist terrorist group Hamas and the black flag of global Jihad -- have shouted Islamist chants such as 'Allahu Akhbar' ('Allah is the Greatest'), and have openly called for Jews to be murdered or raped.
The anti-Semitic nature of the anti-Israel protests is further evidenced by there having been no anti-China protests, despite overwhelming evidence that massive human rights abuses are being carried out by the Chinese Communist Party against millions of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Pro-Palestinian protesters, who also have been silent about the plight of Muslims in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria or Yemen, among other places, clearly are exercising selective outrage with their single-minded concern for Muslim human rights in Gaza.
The spiraling anti-Semitism, and the apparent inability or unwillingness of European governments to stop it, has sounded alarm bells among Jewish communities in Europe, where anti-Jewish hatred is reaching levels not seen since the Second World War.
The violence has also shed renewed light on the consequences of mass migration to Europe from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and especially on the failure of governments to require newcomers to integrate into European society.
Some European lawmakers and security officials are now calling for migrants who commit anti-Semitic hate crimes to be deported back to their countries of origin. Given the iron grip of political correctness in Europe, this is unlikely to happen.
In any event, it may be too little, too late for Europe's Jewish communities. The current crisis of anti-Semitism is a testament to the failure of European multiculturalism, which is making Jewish life in Europe increasingly unviable.
Germany: Ground Zero for Anti-Semitism in Europe
Since the clashes between Israel and Hamas began on May 9, anti-Semitic protests have been held in dozens of cities across Germany, where mostly Arab and Turkish protesters have been chanting anti-Israeli slogans, burning Israeli flags and threatening Jews.
The current wave of protests appears to have begun in earnest on May 13, when a highly aggressive group of at least 200 people brandishing Palestinian and Turkish flags and shouting anti-Semitic slurs gathered in front of a synagogue in Gelsenkirchen. Police were deployed to prevent the mob from entering the building.
North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul vowed to prosecute the perpetrators:
"I find it unbearable when anti-Semitic slogans are chanted on German soil. Our police are pursuing the perpetrators with all resoluteness so that they can be punished."
Synagogues and Jewish memorials have also been attacked in Bonn, Düsseldorf, Mannheim, Münster and Solingen.
In Berlin, on May 15, at least 3,500 protesters gathered in different parts of the city to denounce Israel and Jews. Some brandished anti-Semitic slogans -- "Israel Child Killers" and "Stop Doing What Hitler Did to You" -- and chanted "Bomb Tel Aviv!"
Some held banners describing Israel as a "genocidal settler state" and Zionism as racism. Others openly rejected Israel's right to exist. A large red banner stated: "Palestine is sick and tired of paying the price for Europe's Holocaust of the Jews." Other banners called for the total elimination of Israel, which would be replaced by a "free Palestine" from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Protesters attacked an Israeli film crew reporting on the protests.
Nearly 1,000 police officers were deployed to break up the demonstrations. They were pelted with stones, bottles and firecrackers. A total of 93 officers were injured in the melees.
Correspondent Peter Wilke, who was assaulted by the mob, said that most of the protesters were Arabs or Turks. Writing for the German newspaper Bild, he reported that the protests in Berlin were "a new dimension of hatred and violence." He added: "Open, disgusting hatred of Jews and Israel, but not only: It was also hatred of our free, tolerant democracy. Uninhibitedly displayed!"
Anti-Israel protests also took place in Bremen, Cologne, Frankfurt, Göttingen, Hamburg, Hanover, Leipzig, Osnabrück and many other German cities, where demonstrators chanted anti-Jewish slogans and burned Israeli flags.
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is partially responsible for the anti-Semitic protests taking place in Germany:
"These protests are predominated not by the far right, but rather by those who are Muslim oriented and provoked by the brutal speeches of President Erdoğan and others who believe that clashes must spread to German streets. If they do not possess German citizenship or permanent residence permits and if the laws allow, these people should leave our country."
Gerhard Schindler, a former head of Germany's BND foreign intelligence service, warned that a red line of anti-Semitism had been crossed and that it cannot be ignored. In an interview Bild, he urged the government to deport migrants who commit anti-Semitic hate crimes in Germany:
"The developments of the last few days are frightening and unbearable because they violate the German raison d'etre [Staatsräson]. Burning flags, throwing stones at synagogues, shouting anti-Semitic hate slogans on German soil -- this is simply incompatible with our history.
"Of course, we must not downplay anti-Semitism within the German population. But the anti-Semitism that we are seeing now among migrants is a fact that we have to face.
"These people disregard our hospitality in two ways. On the one hand, by committing anti-Semitic crimes -- insulting, threatening, depriving Israel of its right to exist. And secondly, by violating our basic socio-political consensus, namely that no anti-Semitic agitation should take place on German soil.
"This is not a trivial offense. It affects the DNA of the German understanding of the state.
"The security authorities can only address the symptoms. The basic cause of this problem is a social problem that everyone must address.
"It is not enough that we address this fact openly. We also have to get those who abuse our hospitality out of the country.
"We need these people to be better integrated. They are here, and we have to take care of them. But those who do not allow themselves to be helped must be removed from the country."
Scores of German political leaders have condemned the anti-Semitism. Apart from platitudes, however, few appear able or willing to take effective measures to remedy the problem -- presumably because it would require them to admit that German multiculturalism is a failure.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose open-door migration policies have greatly contributed to the current situation, has so far refused to personally make a statement on the anti-Semitic violence raging in Germany. Instead, she had her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, issue an anodyne declaration, summarized in the following tweet:
"Chancellor #Merkel sharply condemned the missile attacks against #Israel and anti-Semitic incidents in Germany. Our democracy will not tolerate anti-Semitic rallies."
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said:
"Our Basic Law guarantees the right to freedom of expression and freedom of demonstration. But anyone who burns flags with the Star of David on our streets and shouts anti-Semitic slogans not only abuses the freedom to demonstrate, but also commits crimes that must be prosecuted.
"Nothing justifies the threat to Jews in Germany or attacks on synagogues in German cities. Hatred of Jews -- regardless of whom -- we do not want and will not tolerate in our country."
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, one of Europe's leading apologists for Iran's Islamic regime, which is dedicated to the elimination of Israel, said:
"All of us are called on to make it very clear that it is unacceptable if Jews in Germany -- either in the streets or on social media -- are made responsible for the events in the Middle East."
Meanwhile, Germany in 2021 is marking 1,700 years of Jewish life in the country, which is now home to approximately 200,000 Jews. Andrei Kovacs, a Jewish-Hungarian descendant of Holocaust survivors, and who is managing director of the association, "321-2021: 1700 Years of Jewish Life in Germany," questioned the continued viability of a Jewish presence in Germany:
"Sadly, what we are experiencing these days is part of a recurring pattern. Unfortunately, living with anti-Semitically motivated hostility to Israel is part of the everyday normality for German Jews. For many years it has been tolerated and often even supported by numerous people and organizations. As soon as Israel is forced to defend its existence, these forms of anti-Semitism break out again.
"It is astonishing that, only 76 years after the Shoah, many people fail to understand that the Jewish state cannot accept a threat to its existence without being able to defend itself.
"The anti-Semitic attacks of the past few days have once again made it clear how fragile Jewish life is in Germany -- and how resentments can be misused for political purposes...
"Unfortunately, when you see the pictures from Gelsenkirchen and other cities in Germany, it doesn't feel like a respectful coexistence."
In London, a motorcade of cars with Palestinian flags drove past a Jewish community center on Finchley Road. A man, using a megaphone, shouted: "F*ck the Jews, f*ck their daughters, f*ck their mothers, rape their daughters and free Palestine."
At the same time, an estimated 100,000 people gathered in downtown London, where many chanted, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." One protester was filmed tearing apart an Israeli flag after he was unable to light it on fire because it was raining. An on-duty uniformed female police officer joined the protesters and shouted, "Free, free Palestine!"
Later, dozens of members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist movement dedicated to establishing an Islamic caliphate, waved the black flag of Islamic Jihad and held signs calling for "Muslim Armies" to "liberate" Jerusalem. A large banner stated: "Whole of Palestine is occupied and all of it must be liberated." One protester openly called for jihad:
"This goes out to the Muslim armies. What are you waiting for? Jihad is your responsibility. Wipe out the Zionist entity. How dare they occupy Muslim lands. How dare they. Have you no honor? We, the Muslims in the West, are with you. We don't fear anyone but Allah."
In Manchester, a mob carrying Palestinian flags gathered in front a bagel shop at Arndale Center, a large shopping mall, where the crowd appeared to be targeting Jewish shoppers.
As in Germany, politicians in Britain have condemned the anti-Semitism, but few appear to know how to stop it from spreading.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted:
"There is no place for antisemitism in our society. Ahead of Shavuot [a Jewish holiday], I stand with Britain's Jews who should not have to endure the type of shameful racism we have seen today."
Conservative MP Christian Wakeford said:
"As the Member with the largest Jewish community outside of London, I have been contacted by constituents scared to take their children to synagogue due to the appalling scenes on the streets of the UK over the weekend."
MP Robert Jenrick added:
"As the father of Jewish children it shocks me every time I take my children to synagogue or to their nursery to see individuals stood there in stab proof vests guarding the entrance to those places."
Elsewhere in Europe
Austria: In Vienna, pro-Palestinian protesters held signs stating, "Well done Israel, Hitler would be proud" and "The Nazis are still around, they call themselves Zionists now." Other signs read: "F*ck Zionism," "End Zionism," and "It is Kosher to boycott Israel." One protester shouted at pro-Israel counter-demonstrators: "Shove your Holocaust up your ass!"Dozens of people, including many youths, burst into applause.
Belgium: In Brussels, protesters chanted, "Khaybar, Khaybar, Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Mohammed is returning." The chant refers to the seventh century when Muslims massacred and expelled Jews from the town of Khaybar, located in modern-day Saudi Arabia. It is a battle cry for attacking Jews. Protesters also shouted, "Death to Jews."
France: In Paris, thousands of people disobeyed a ban on protests. Mobs chanted slogans including "Death to Israel." Police used water cannons to disperse the crowds.
Greece: In Athens, police used tear gas and water cannons against hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the American and Israeli embassies. Protesters held signs accusing Israel of "ethnic cleansing." Other signs said: "Stop doing what Hitler did to you."
A protester tweeted: "Until we free Palestine from the river to the sea, we will not stop." In Thessaloniki, leftist groups and anarchist collectives organized anti-Israel protests that were attended by at least 700 people.
The Netherlands: In Amsterdam, thousands of people protested against Israel at Dam Square, a central plaza that is the country's main monument in remembrance for those who died in the Second World War. They carried signs accusing Israel of genocide and vowed that, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." In The Hague, protestors shouted anti-Semitic slogans, including "Jews are a cancer" and "Heil Hitler."
Spain: In Madrid, thousands of hard left and Arab protesters, some chanting 'Allahu Akhbar' ('Allah is the Greatest'), gathered in the city center and falsely accused Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians.
In Oleiros, a municipality in the northern Spanish region of Galicia, local officials, misusing outdoor municipal billboards, posted messages stating, "Zionist Terrorism in Palestine," called for Israeli leaders to be investigated for war crimes.
Julian Reichelt, editor-in-chief of Germany's top-selling Bild newspaper, in an essay titled, "Our Country is in Peril," wrote:
"What we saw on our streets on Saturday was nothing less than a historical threat. Enabled by our government, belittled by our public media, an anti-Semitic mob, which was clearly Arab-Muslim, marched through almost all major German cities and hatefully demanded the erasure of Israel.
"On Saturday I took my own pictures of the demos and came to the bitter realization: We who want Jewish life in our country are losing. We may be more numerically. But those who want Israel and Jewish life erased from us rule the streets whenever they want.
"They do not fear the police, they have nothing to fear from our federal government, they bring their children to these demonstrations and raise the next generation of Israel haters in Germany. Their youth culture and their rap music conjures up the murderous myths that Hamas also glorifies. Their idols fire rockets from Gaza at Tel Aviv while they hunt kippah wearers in Berlin and other cities.
"It is not Islam, but rampant Islamism, that is making German cities an inhospitable, dangerous country for Jews, as has already happened in France and Sweden. Angela Merkel's refugee policy, which no longer bothers to identify true war refugees, has imported hundreds of thousands of times an ideology that focuses on the Jew as an eternal enemy. Here she has fallen on the fertile ground of failed integration.
"Their identification mark is a map from which Israel has been wiped out, and their followers carry this mark roaring through German cities. To be clear: you cannot carry these banners and at the same time pretend to recognize our constitutional state, one of the foundations of which is Israel's right to exist. Only one or the other is possible. Too many streets were in the hands of people at the weekend who want a different Germany, a country without Jews.
"'We can do it!' was Angela Merkel's most famous refrain in the refugee crisis. It was also her promise that our country would not change fundamentally, would not be shaped by political-religious ideologies that sow death and annihilation elsewhere.
"This promise was broken a thousand times over this weekend. I would finally like to hear what the Chancellor intends to do about it, what her personal, unequivocal words are to these Jew haters, what she wants to DO against the rise of this extermination ideology, before she leaves office.
"Angela Merkel should take responsibility for what has become a threat to our liberal society and oppose it with all her might."
In an interview with Die Welt, German-Egyptian political scientist and author Hamed Abdel-Samad said:
"One can of course criticize the action of the Israeli police in Jerusalem and also the settlement policy. I have done this in the past. But when this criticism is used as a pretext to stir up hatred against all Jews, then the problem begins.
If you criticize Israeli politics but glorify Hamas, the problem begins. And that's exactly what happens in Germany. I think it has nothing to do with solidarity with Muslim victims. Muslims are victims every day in the Arab world: in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen.
A few days ago, a school in Afghanistan was bombed; 50 children died as a result of Taliban terror and there were no demonstrations by Muslims on the streets in Germany. And they didn't shout: 'F*ck the Taliban!'
"There is a high level of emotionalism in this conflict. For Muslims, it is not the victims that are important, but rather: who is the perpetrator? If the perpetrators are Muslim terrorists, then it stays in the family. If the perpetrators are Israel or America, then this staged indignation occurs.
"Turkish politics also play a role in this. Erdogan's speeches, the Islamic associations here, Milli Görüs and so on. They stir up this hatred of Jews, even though they constantly complain about anti-Muslim racism or Islamophobia.
"German politicians have not understood that immigration from Iraq and Syria, from the Arab countries, also brings more anti-Semitism to Germany. Anyone who says that is immediately branded as right wing and there is no fair discussion or debate about it. For me this is a racism of lowered expectations.
Let us imagine that after every terrorist attack by Muslim terrorists, Germans take to the streets, besiege mosques and shout 'Sh*tty Muslims.' That would be right-wing extremism. That would be a Nazi, but when it comes from Muslims, they say: yes, the poor things. They are emotionally charged. No, that is racism of lowered expectations. I don't expect the same from them what I expect from normal German young people. And that's part of the problem."
When asked about anti-Semitism in the Arab world, Abdel-Samad replied:
"People who come here also carry in their baggage many conflicts from their home countries. Anti-Semitism is part of the educational policy in the Arab world, so to speak. Hitler's books are sold there as bestsellers. Conspiracies like the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' are among the best sellers there. And these people come here. And you are not allowed to even talk to them about such conflicts in schools or in integration courses. The anti-racism debate is also part of this problem, because Muslims or migrants are generally seen as a group as victims and only the White man is considered to be the perpetrator.
"In the end, not even schools can talk about anti-Semitism or the Middle East conflict. Or about Erdogan or about Islamism. Even at universities, Muslim students refuse to speak about such topics. Universities should be a safe haven for opinions. But for many Muslim students, universities are now safe spaces from opinions and criticism, even though that is where we have to start.
We need to talk to each other. We have to have controversial discussions on all issues, not just the Middle East conflict. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen. We have a very poisoned culture of debate in Germany. You get the stamp of racist or Nazi if you address any grievances in immigrant milieus or with minorities. The racist is always White, but never a Muslim or a Black or a migrant. For me that is racism of lowered expectations."
On his Facebook page, Abdel-Samad elaborated:
"Let's imagine a mob made up of German youths shouting 'Sh*tty Muslims' and throwing stones and fire at mosques in Germany after a terrorist attack in Paris, London or Berlin. What would we call these youngsters? Correct: Nazis! What would the anti-fascists and anti-racists do then? They would stir up outrage and fear that the return of the little man with the funny mustache is imminent.
"But why don't you hear from them now? Why do they consider terms like 'Gypsy Sauce' [the name of a German gravy] to be racist, but 'Sh*tty Jews' to be harmless? Why do they freak out when you ask someone with a migration background where they come from, but do nothing when people are insulted and beaten because of their origin?
"A. Because for them it's not about people, it's about ideology!
"B. Because in their racism industry, minorities can only be victims, and only the White man can be Nazi and racist.
"C. Because their anti-racism is deeply intertwined with anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism, so some of them even sympathize with Hamas.
"This is not just a double standard in dealing with the issue of racism, it is racism by definition. Because the White man is generally regarded as a person who was born with the original sin of racism, while all other ethnicities and cultures are acquitted of this charge.
This, too, is racism against minorities, who are only viewed as objects of the White man and do not have to take responsibility for themselves. It is racism of lowered expectations when one demands something different from German young people than from Muslim young people."
Writing for the German blog Tichys Einblick, commentator Michal Kornblum noted:
"A large part of this mob consists of people who came here as refugees and brought their hatred of Jews with them and continued to expand it here. It is no secret that many mosques and also left-wing German associations provide the breeding ground for this. In Germany, the most diverse social currents converge in anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel.
"Another indication of the failure of politics and the judiciary is that many young Muslims from families who have been living here for two or three generations are more radical and anti-Semitic than their parents and grandparents, who often maintain a more Western view of the world. When the acquired 'made in Germany' hatred of Jews meets up with the imported anti-Semitism from Arab countries, it results in the explosive atmosphere on German streets that we are currently experiencing....
"In reality, we are still moving from phrase to phrase in the anti-Semitism debate. The popular saying 'no place for anti-Semitism' turns out to be one of the biggest lies, since anti-Semitism obviously takes up a lot of space in Germany. Repeating a phrase like a prayer wheel does not change the realities.
In the same way, 'whoever lives here must accept the Basic Law and Israel's right to exist' tends only to be said. I am not aware of any cases of expulsions or deportations for these reasons. The deportation of all anti-Semitic rioters who do not have German citizenship would be a logical step."
Writing for the blog Achgut, the German-Israeli writer Chaim Noll blamed German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Germany:
"The open hatred of Jews has returned to Germany, from a direction that surprised many unsuspecting people. Gradually, the word 'Jew' has again become a swear word, an epitome of the contemptible, in schoolyards dominated by Muslims. This time the anti-Jewish resentment is not rooted in Europe's anti-Semitic tradition, but in a different one.
Which only a few Europeans took notice. Who would have bothered to study the Koran, the hadith or the Hamas charter twenty years ago? Who knew the countless passages in the religious literature of Islam that call for the contempt, persecution or extermination of the Jews?
"The few who read about it remained silent, or if they voiced their concerns, were declared 'Islamophobic' and ostracized. In the meantime, in thousands of mosques and Koran schools, what Germans have for decades mutually been forbidden to do with heavy prison sentences, has spread unhindered. All the while, the same demon was allowed to flourish with impunity in its new environment.
Numerous reinforcements have arrived since 2015, and hatred of Jews is in renewed bloom. The shouting at the demonstrations is getting louder from year to year. So far, no German Muslim has been punished for hating Jews or for openly inciting the murder of Jews, although this has happened again and again....
"The pictures that are now going around the world document Germany's new shame. Angela Merkel can take credit for the fact that in a country where hatred of Jews, although it existed, remained quiet or inaudible, the roar of pogroms can be heard again. She betrayed and sold out the German Jews. And not just the Jews.
Also many Germans, for example, everyone who feels sympathy for Israel or for whom hatred of Jews is unbearable. By demonstratively abstracting critics of Islam in Germany, she created an atmosphere of fearful silence. Which, not unlike in the later years of the Weimar Republic, makes the roar of the Jew haters all the louder.
"Angela Merkel will go down in history as the Chancellor who made open hatred of Jews in Germany possible again. She simply brushes aside decades of 'coming to terms with the past,' of popular education and trying to overcome a traumatic German defeat. Under her government one can in Germany again openly call for the murder of Jews and at the same time be subsidized by the state.
In the small as in the large. Just as thousands of Jew-haters raging on German streets are supported by state funds, so is the terrorist organization Hamas on a large scale via obscure 'relief organizations' and NGOs, so that in the end every rocket that hits Israel also contains a part of German money. Angela Merkel is also silent on this."
The inimitable blog, Elder of Zion, wrote:
"This isn't about Gaza. We've never seen such hate after any Western action in Syria or Afghanistan. No British crowds marching through malls to protest airstrikes in Iraq.
"This is bigotry in its most ugly, rawest form.
"Gaza is an excuse to find a socially acceptable way to publicly express Jew-hatred while pretending that your hate is righteous.
"And while it is more subtle, that is exactly what is behind nearly all the obsessive hate of Israel we see every day of every year. Nothing else explains this level of hate, and clearly it isn't because of the supposed victims -- Arab persecution of Palestinians is ignored by the anti-Israel crowd as well.
"The way we know that anti-Zionism is antisemitism is that the anti-Israel Leftists who swear up and down that they are against antisemitism have not said a word about these incidents. And certainly, none of them have popped up and said they would protect the Jewish right to counter-protest or even walk around unmolested."