Ahead of Netanyahu visit: pro Palestinians protest outside Merkel’s office
The Palestinian “Day of Rage” has reached Berlin: Some 200 demonstrators gathered in front of the Chancellery building in Berlin, in “solidarity with the Intifada in occupied Palestine.” Waving Palestinian flags, they called “Nazis Raus” (Nazis Out, referring to the Jews in Israel) and encouraged a “Third Intifada.”
The protest was organized by the German Palestinian Community (PGD), as a show of strength against the Israeli state terrorism against the Palestinian people, as they called it. “Throwing rocks is not violence,” claimed the organizers in a pamphlet distributed ahead of the protest.
Police counted 180 demonstrators, who were described by the media as admirers of the terror organization Hamas. Some distance away, a similar number of Israel supporters held a small counter demonstration, with 300 police securing the area outside the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel. “You can’t call for a third Intifada and then demand a non-violent response,” stressed one of its speakers.
Fearing anti-Semitic slurs under the cover of anti-Israel criticism, police translators tried to blend into the crowd in order to detect inciting calls.Berliner Zeitung reported that none such calls were registered, but following complaints from Jewish organization, an investigation was launched.
“We support the non-violent resistance against the occupation,” insisted PGD chairman Raif Hussein, who accused Israeli government of fascism and of deliberately murdering Palestinian demonstrators. According the Tagesspiegel, he described the stone throwing as “a symbol of resistance” and the multiple stabbing attacks which accrued throughout Israel as “acts of desperation.”
German Politician Volker Beck, who heads the German-Israeli parliamentary group in the Bundestag, appealed Berlin’s Interior Minister Frank Henkel to cancel the event and to consider whether a call for solidarity with terror attacks could be considered a call for criminal acts.
Jewish organizations also voiced their protest and the president of the Central council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, warned that the participants are glorifying attacks on Jews, which is “disgusting and shocking to us.”
Earlier today, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed his concerns over the ongoing violence. “It is terrible that people have to live in constant fear of becoming victims of undiscriminating violence on the streets,” he said , and stressed that “Israel has every right to protect its population against attacks.” He also called both sides to avoid fueling tensions further and to resume dialog: “We need to re-enter into a political process, which provides a perspective on a sustainable solution to the conflict.”
The security situation in Israel will also be at the center of talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chancellor Merkel, when he visits Germany next Wednesday. Originally the talks were scheduled for last week, as part of the annual government-to-government consultations, but Netanyahu canceled the trip last minute due to the security instability in Israel.