The German government said Monday it was “ashamed” of weekend demonstrations against the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which saw some protesters chant anti-Semitic slogans and torch Israeli flags.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters that although Berlin opposed the move by US President Donald Trump last week, it strongly condemned protests in German cities where “hatred” of Israel and Jews was expressed.
“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.
He said that while Germany protected a constitutional right to free speech and assembly, that freedom did not cover incitement of racial hatred or violence.
“It is important that we continue to stand up to all of that,” he said.
German cities including Berlin and Munich saw anti-Israel demonstrations over the weekend.
At a protest late Friday in front of the US embassy in the German capital and again on Sunday in the ethnically diverse Neukoelln district of Berlin, demonstrators burned the Israeli flag.
Seibert said last Wednesday 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 Wednesday 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 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.