BERLIN – An amalgam of students, Jewish community members, politicians, a
leading Iranian dissident and pro-Israel groups pitted themselves on Saturday
against roughly 1,000 pro-Iranian regime Islamists, who celebrated Al-Quds Day,
which urges the abolition of the Jewish state, in the center of the German
capital’s lively shopping district.
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Islamists chanted “Israel is a
terrorist state” and held signs declaring that “Israel is not a Jewish state”
and “Israel out of Palestine.” The mainly German- Muslim supporters also
displayed photos of Iran’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and his
successor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Their calls for the end
of Israel were countered with shouts of “Free Gaza from Hamas” and banners
reading “Against anti-Semitism and Islamism: No Al-Quds Day” and “Solidarity
Khomeini established Al- Quds Day in 1979 to call for the
elimination of Israel, and marches honoring Al-Quds Day have been held in Berlin
since 1996, as well as across the Arab world.
Jochen Feilcke, the head of
the German-Israeli Friendship Society in Berlin and Potsdam, told the pro-Israel
crowd that “we condemn that radical Islamic groups are marching again through
He added that “once again a participation from neo-Nazis and
others sympathizing with the mullah regime is expected” and their goal is to
agitate against Israel.
A Berlin police spokesman told The Jerusalem Post
that “300-400” pro-Israel demonstrators were present at the event titled “No
Al-Quds Day,” to protest the march of extreme Islamists calling for the
destruction of Israel.
Two politicians from the German Left Party
attended the Israel-solidarity event. Petra Pau, a Left deputy in the
Bundestag, and Klaus Lederer, chairman of Berlin’s regional Left Party branch,
took part in the counter-demonstration.
Pau and Lederer advocate strong
relations with Israel in contrast to a large block of Left Party politicians who
frequently denigrate Israel’s right to exist.
Maya Zehden, the
spokeswoman for Berlin’s Jewish community, told the pro-Israel activists that
“we are showing our solidarity with Israel because we see Israel as an important
place of refuge, as the only state where we can find a safe acceptance, in the
event that, we as Jews, elsewhere will be excluded.”
She continued that
“in addition to the Iranian regime’s hatred of Israel, Iran’s quest for an
atomic bomb is the greatest threat – and not just for Israel...Therefore
we support the Iranian opposition in their struggle for a democratic
Zehden noted that “this [Al- Quds Day] demonstration is controlled
by Iran like the term ‘Islamophobia’ which is used as a propaganda counterweight
Many German academics and journalists frequently
equate anti-Semitism with Islamophobia in order to downplay the Holocaust and
minimize the dangers of lethal anti-Semitism, according to
Stefan Krikowski and his wife, Margreet, have appeared at
anti-Al-Quds Day protests over the years in Berlin. He told the Post
wife and I were happy that we at least had a large Gilad Schalit banner to show,
and that many Israeli tourists conversed with us – and expressed their joy that
there are at least some friends of Israel in Germany.”
He added that “it
is sad that that so few people are sensitized to the freedom of the Iranian
people and threat to Israel.”
Dr. Kazem Moussavi, a leading Iranian
dissident in Germany who fled the Islamic Republic because of political
repression, delivered an extensive analysis on the situation of Iran’s domestic
crackdown to the pro-Israel demonstrators.
He said the “entire situation
is already a catastrophe and scarcely manageable. Every eight hours an opponent
of the regime is hanged, every hour 80 people are kidnapped, tortured and
He said the human rights situation for women and religious,
ethnic and sexual minorities is getting progressively worse in Iran. Moussavi
took a top leader of the German Green Party, Claudia Roth, to task for meeting
with “murderers hostile to women” in Iran.
Roth, who donned a head scarf
while meeting last October with leading Iranian politicians who have denied the
Holocaust and brutally decimated the pro-democracy movement in Iran, has faced
accusations of placating Iranian human rights violators. A small number
of anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jews from the Netorei Karta sect marched with the
pro-Iranian regime supporters.
Iran’s regime frequently courts Jews from
Netorei Karta to attend Holocaust denial conferences and anti-Israeli events
because Iran’s leaders believe the presence of a small cadre of Jews, who oppose
Israel’s existence based on a bizarre theology, can shield the regime from
charges of hardcore anti-Semitism.
A heavy show of police squads were
present, including officers in full riot gear, who positioned themselves between
the Islamists marching along the shopping strip of Kurfürstendamm and
Joachimstaler Square, where the pro-Israel supporters were assembled.