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Anti-Israel protests

"There is no place in Germany for anti-Semitism"

The German government has condemned the burning of Israeli flags at demonstrations in Berlin. "We are ashamed to see such open hatred towards Jews expressed on the streets of Germany," said federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert.

There is no place in Germany for anti-Semitism and intolerance, he declared.

The decision of President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has triggered protests in many places – and also in Germany. At a demonstration in front of the Embassy of the USA in Berlin on Friday evening (8 December) Israeli flags were burned. Again on Sunday (10 December) an Israeli flag was set alight at a protest rally in the Neukölln district of Berlin.

Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly must be exercised peacefully

Federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert described the insults directed at Israel and the Jewish people at the demonstrations as "disgraceful". There is no place in Germany for extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or intolerance, no matter what side it comes from, he said on Monday (11 December) at the government press conference.

"Against this backdrop in particular we condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of violence during demonstrations and the burning of Israeli flags," said the government spokesperson. Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are guaranteed in Germany, he continued, but these freedoms must be exercised peacefully.

Cabinet ministers take a clear stance

Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière also condemned the burning of Israeli flags. Germany "has very special links with the state of Israel and all those who subscribe to the Jewish faith," he wrote on Twitter. And the German government "is very much aware of the special situation in the Middle East". It cannot then be acceptable if insults are directed at the Jewish people or the state of Israel in this shameful way.

Federal Minister of Justice Heiko Maas condemned the anti-Semitic excesses. "Every form of anti-Semitism is an attack against all of us. Anti-Semitism must never again find a place," he told the German daily newspaper Bild.

Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel stressed that in spite of the understandable criticism of the decision of the USA, there is "no entitlement and no justification for burning Israeli flags, for stirring up hatred against Jews, or questioning Israel’s right to exist". Anyone dong so is not only taking a stance against Israel but also against the constitutional order of our country, he wrote on Twitter.

Jewish life is an enrichment for Germany
Jewish people do much for German society in a large number of different ways, and Jewish life has a firm place in Germany. The German government considers it particularly important to strengthen this and to address anti-Semitism. The government takes its responsibility very seriously in this connection and is an excellent role model. Anti-Semitism will be addressed with the full force of the law as compatible with the rule of law.

Dec 11, 2017