Thousands march in Berlin against antisemitism amid sharp rise in Jew hatred

At least 10,000 protesters rally under banner of ‘Never again is now,’ as Jewish community’s main leader says antisemitism ‘common practice in Germany’

People take part in a demonstration against antisemitism at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, on December 10, 2023. (MICHELE TANTUSSI / AFP)
People take part in a demonstration against antisemitism at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, on December 10, 2023. (MICHELE TANTUSSI / AFP)

Several thousand people demonstrated against antisemitism in Berlin on Sunday as Germany grapples with a large increase in anti-Jewish incidents following the Hamas terror group’s devastating onslaught on Israel two months ago.

Police estimated that around 3,200 people gathered in the rain in the German capital, while organizers put the figure at 10,000, German news agency dpa reported. Participants in the protest, titled “Never again is now,” marched to the Brandenburg Gate.

A group tracking antisemitism in Germany said in late November that it had documented a drastic increase in antisemitic incidents in the month after Hamas’s attack — a total of 994, an increase of 320 percent compared with the same period a year earlier.

Germany’s main Jewish leader, Josef Schuster, said that “antisemitism is common practice in Germany in the middle of society,” and called for solidarity with Israel and with Jewish life in Germany.

Germany’s Labor Minister Hubertus Heil said that many decent people are too quiet on the issue. “We don’t need a decent, silent majority — we need a clear and loud majority that stands up now, and not later,” he said.

The event had wide support, with the speaker of the German parliament and Berlin’s mayor also among its backers.

Participants in a demonstration protest against antisemitism under the slogan “Germany stands up – Never again is now!” in Berlin, December 10, 2023. (Carsten Koall/dpa via AP)

In a report, the Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism recorded three cases of “extreme violence,” which it defines as attacks that can result in a loss of life or serious bodily harm, whether successfully committed or attempted, between October 7 and November 9, 2023.

One such incident occurred on October 18 in Berlin, when two Molotov cocktails were thrown at a Jewish community center that houses a synagogue as well as a kindergarten.

The report also listed 29 attacks, 72 incidents of targeted damage to property, 32 threats, four antisemitic mass mailings, and 854 cases of offensive behavior over the month-long period.

Donning a kippa, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz became the first in his role to light the menorah at Brandenburg Gate in the center of Berlin Thursday evening, where he called for the “immediate” release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, accompanied by Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, the rabbi of Berlin’s Jewish community.

Scholz said he wanted to underscore that Jews were an “inextricable part” of German society, and called it “unacceptable” for them “to have to be afraid to practice their religion, their culture” in the country.

Antisemitism has skyrocketed around the world since war erupted between Israel and Hamas after the Hamas-led October 7 massacre, in which some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing some 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

Israel responded with a military campaign aimed at toppling the Hamas regime in Gaza and ensuring the end of its threat to southern Israel, as well as securing the release of the hostages.

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