IS ANTI-SEMITISM ON THE RISE IN EUROPE?
Calling the Jewish population within Germany a “national treasure,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended an anti-Semitism rally over the weekend, following a surge of abuse against Jews within Europe that materialised due to the latest Gaza conflict.
The Gaza conflict, which saw around 2,200 fatalities (the majority Palestinian) over 50 days, ended after a ceasefire agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis was established on August 27. Yet while the conflict was confined to the disputed Gaza Strip, which neighbours Israel and Egypt, a rise of anti-Semitism was felt far abroad in European nations such as Germany, France, England and Italy.
Held at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Merkel told the crowd of 5,000 attendees that Germany’s Jewish community of over 100,000 is a “miracle” considering their history — a gift that fills her “with a deepest gratitude.”
However, activity over the past several months suggest not all agree with Merkel, who said the fight against anti-Semitism is Germany’s “national and civic duty.”
Minority groups within European nations, believed to be pro-Palestinian protesters or right-wing extremists, have taken part in demonstrations since the Gaza conflict started on July 8.
Various media agencies have reported racial slurs and hate speech being chanted at some demonstrations, such as “gas the Jews” and “death to Israel.” Additional reports include Jewish shop windows being defaced with swastikas and tagging in Rome, petrol bombs being thrown as an attack on a synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany, and several hundred protesters attacking a Jewish quarter in Paris, setting fire to a pharmacy and chanting “Death to Jews.”
The result of such attacks have resulted in governments reassuring Jews of their safety and expressing zero tolerance about the behaviour, as seen in Merkel’s speech.
"The legitimate criticism of the political actions of a government - be it ours or of the state of Israel - is fine,” Merkel said. “But if it is only used as a cloak for one's hatred against other people, hatred for Jewish people, then it is a misuse of our basic rights of freedom of opinion and assembly."
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