‘Jews cannot move freely in Germany’: Merkel condemns anti-Semitic abuse and attacks on synagogues during pro-Palestine protests across the country
- ‘What has been heard in the last few days of hatred of Jews and anti-Semitic abuse is shameful,’ Steffen Seibert said on Monday following week of protests
- He called an attack on a Jewish journalist during a demo in Berlin ‘outrageous’
- Seibert said it showed that ‘Jews in Germany cannot move around as freely’
- Police were deployed outside synagogues across the country after protests
Angela Merkel’s spokesman has warned that Jews no longer feel safe in Germany as he condemned anti-Semitic abuse hurled at pro-Palestinian protests last week.
Police were deployed outside synagogues across the country after protests against Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip descended into racial abuse.
‘What has been heard in the last few days of hatred of Jews and anti-Semitic abuse is shameful,’ Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday.
He called it ‘particularly outrageous’ that a Jewish journalist had been attacked on the sidelines of a demonstration in Berlin at the weekend.
Seibert said this ‘highlights the fact that Jews in Germany cannot move around as freely and safely in some areas and in some situations as is the right of every citizen in Germany. And that makes us angry and it is shameful for all of us.’
A man is detained by riot police in Berlin during a pro-Palestine demonstration on Saturday
Protesters march to demonstrate for the rights of Palestinians in Berlin on Saturday. Similar demos were held across Germany last week and over the weekend
A protester holds a placard at a demonstration in Berlin on Saturday
Antonia Yamin, a reporter for Israeli state TV, was heckled during the demonstration in Berlin and was forced to run for cover after someone threw a firework which exploded near her.
Speaking to the camera, she said: ‘I suspected that something like this could happen. It’s not the first time for me, in this part of Berlin, with a Hebrew microphone and speaking in Hebrew. Last time the same thing happened, also with a firecracker.’
There were numerous reports of anti-Semitic slogans being chanted in German cities amid anger at Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip which has killed 212 Palestinians – including 61 children.
Footage emerged from a protest outside a synagogue in the city of Gelsenkirchen which showed men yelling obscenities about Jews while waving Palestinian and Turkish flags.
Israeli flags were also burned outside synagogues in Munster and Bonn, where police made 16 arrests.
A 29-year-old German citizen of Kazakh origin was arrested in Hamburg on Friday after striking a Jewish student over the head outside a synagogue.
Seibert said that the recent spate of anti-Semitism showed that the problem existed across the political spectrum.
‘There are anti-Semites in various camps in Germany,’ he said. ‘Right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis have always been part of it. And in these days it becomes clear again to us: There are also Muslim anti-Semites.’
Last week, Seibert made it clear that Germany backed Israel’s right to defend itself from rocket attacks by Hamas.
‘The German government condemns these incessant rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip against Israeli cities in the strongest terms,’ Merkel’s spokesman said.
‘Israel has the right to self-defence against these attacks.’
Police secure the Westend Synagogue in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, after a pro-Palestine demonstration on Saturday
Police face participants as they gather to protest for peace in Palestine in Cologne
People hold the flags of Palestine, Turkey and other countries, as they gather in front of the opera house to demonstrate in Stuttgart
Merkel has been popular in Israel throughout her tenure and was the first ever politician to speak in German inside the Knesset, the parliament, during a visit in 2008.
‘At this point, in particular, I would like to say explicitly: Every federal government and every chancellor before me were committed to Germany’s special historical responsibility for Israel’s security,’ Merkel said in the historic speech.
‘This historic responsibility of Germany is part of my country’s reason of state. That means Israel’s security is never negotiable for me as German chancellor.’