Pro-Israel groups counter-protest Islamists in Berlin

Annual pro-Iranian Al-Quds day rally in center of German capital’s shopping district calls for Israel’s destruction.

By JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
August 29, 2011 02:05
4 minute read.
Berlin anti Israel rally

Berlin anti Israel rally 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

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.

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.

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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 with Israel!”

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 Berlin.”

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 Iran.”

Zehden noted that “this [Al- Quds Day] demonstration is controlled by Iran like the term ‘Islamophobia’ which is used as a propaganda counterweight to anti-Semitism.”

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 critics.

Stefan Krikowski and his wife, Margreet, have appeared at anti-Al-Quds Day protests over the years in Berlin. He told the Post that “my 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 raped.”

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.


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