German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier phoned Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin on Thursday to express his dismay over recent anti-Israel demonstrations in Berlin that followed US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“President Steinmeier told the president that such acts of hatred and racism had no place in Germany, and condemned them outright,” a statement from Rivlin’s office said. “He explained to the president the ongoing activity by the German authorities and security forces to combat racism, and prosecute the perpetrators.”
The condemnation followed a statement from German government spokesman Steffen Seibert, who said his country was “ashamed” of the demonstrations.
“At certain rallies over the weekend, slogans were chanted, Israeli flags were burned and slander against the State of Israel and Jews in general were spread which were shameful,” Seibert said.
“One has to be ashamed when hatred of Jews is put on display so openly on the streets of German cities.”
Seibert noted that Berlin had a “particular responsibility toward Israel and Jewish people in general” because Nazi Germany slaughtered six million Jews in the Holocaust.
At protests last Friday in front of the US embassy in the German capital and this past Sunday in the ethnically diverse Neukoelln district of Berlin, demonstrators burned the Israeli flag.
Seibert said last week that Chancellor Angela Merkel “does not support” Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “because the status of Jerusalem can only be negotiated within the framework of a two-state solution.”
In an address last week from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.
The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.