Across Europe, anti-Israel rallies are including distinct displays of anti-Semitism, from synagogues being attacked to Jewish-owned stores being vandalized and to Jews citizens being threatened and told they are not welcome.
A survey of the most recent gatherings held by pro-Palestinian demonstrators was described in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper:
In Berlin, police had to step in to protect an Israeli tourist couple at the weekend after protestors turned on them when they spotted the man’s yarmulke. Demonstrators reportedly charged towards the couple shouting “Jew! We’ll get you!”
In Paris, hundreds of protestors have attacked synagogues, smashed the windows of Jewish shops and cafes, and set several alight, including a kosher grocery store which reportedly burned to the ground.
In the Netherlands, the home of the chief rabbi has been attacked with stones twice in one week.
According to the Anti-Defamation League which has been tracking the incidents, a protester in Lyon, France, hit a Jewish teen in the head and yelled, “I want to kill all the Jews.” He was arrested.
In Zurich, the ADL reported, demonstrators chanted, “Jews into the sea!”
On Saturday, in Sarcelles, France, anti-Israel protesters threw a Molotov cocktail toward a synagogue and burned a Jewish-owned mini-market.
Berlin police spokeswoman Cosima Pauluhn told the Associated Press that an investigation was launched after Imam Abu Bilal Ismail of the Al-Nur mosque said last week that Jews should be killed.
The mosque did not return the news service’s calls seeking comment.
More violent language was used in Italy, not by a Muslim leader but by a philosopher and politician, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported, who said he would like to personally kill Israelis and that he was beginning a fundraiser to buy Hamas more bombs to help him do so.
Gianni Vattimo, who is also a former member of the European Parliament, told Radio 24, “I’d like to shoot those bastard Zionists.”
Asked if he would like to see more Israelis killed, Vattimo said: “Of course!”
Later, he added that “unfortunately can’t really shoot” because he was exempted from military service, Haaretz reported.
In explaining why he wanted to raise money for more Hamas bombs, Vattimo said Hamas is “fighting with toy rockets that don’t really kill anyone.” He also suggested Europeans form military units to fight alongside Hamas, like volunteers fought in the Spanish civil war.
He described Israel as “a bit worse than the Nazis.”
On Wednesday, a Belgian watchdog on anti-Semitism filed a complaint with a local mayor after finding a cafe was displaying a sign that said no Jews were allowed in.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, or LBCA, said that the signs were in Turkish and French at a cafe in the town of Saint-Nicolas.
The Turkish text read, according to JTA, “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Jews are not under any circumstances.” The French text replaced the word “Jews” with “Zionists.”
A Palestinian flag, a keffiyeh and an Israeli flag with a red “X” were also in the window of the cafe.
Last week, JTA also reported on a shop owner in Antwerp who would not sell a visibly Jewish woman clothes “out of protest.”
JTA reported that nine synagogues in France have been attacked since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge two weeks ago following a major escalation in rocket attacks against Israel.
To address the hostile atmosphere, European foreign ministers have now stepped in.
“Anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish belief and synagogues have no place in our societies,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini said in a joint statement Tuesday.
While they respected the right to freedom of speech, they said they would do everything possible to combat “acts and statements that cross the line to anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday lambasted the anti-Semitic displays.
“The chancellor and the entire German government condemn the anti-Semitic remarks made at pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli demonstrations in Germany in the strongest terms,” Merkel’s spokesman told reporters. “The chancellor and the entire government welcome the revival of Jewish life in Germany and will continue to stand up for the security of Jewish citizens.”
“We have reached a new level of hatred and violence in all of Europe that cannot even be compared to the anti-Semitism seen during previous conflicts in Israel,” Stephan Kramer, director of the European office on anti-Semitism of the American Jewish Committee in Brussels, told the AP.
Evidence of the anti-Semitic, not only anti-Israel, nature of the protests was seen in the slogans chanted by protesters and locations of protests. In several cities, synagogues, not Israeli embassies or consulates were targeted.
“They are not screaming ‘Death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris. They are screaming ‘Death to the Jews,’” Roger Cukierman of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France told the Telegraph.
Cukierman has also expressed the fear of “pogroms.”
The Telegraph reported that 14 were arrested in the German city of Essen on suspicion they were planning to attack the city’s Old Synagogue.
The British paper further noted that there have been reports of German protesters chanting “Jews to the gas chambers.”
Police in Berlin have banned the slogan, “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone.”
Israel’s ambassador to Germany Yakov Hadas-Handelsman likened the recent events to the atmosphere in Nazi Germany.
“They pursue the Jews in the streets of Berlin…as if we were in 1938,” Hadas-Handelsman wrote in the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. “And if it continues, I fear that it is only a matter of time before innocent blood will be spilled.”
The ambassador described the protesters as an “unholy alliance” of Islamists, neo-Nazis and extreme leftists.
Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Telegraph, “We would never in our lives have thought it still possible that anti-Semitic views of the nastiest and most primitive kind can be chanted on German streets.”