Posters with anti-Israel slogans and Israeli flags with crossed out Stars of David blanketed the streets of Berlin on Friday.
Mayor Michael Müller permitted nearly 600 Hezbollah supporters and members – and pro-Iranian regime activists – to march in the heart of the German capital, at the al-Quds Day rally calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.
Rogel Rachman, the head of Israel’s public diplomacy at the embassy in Berlin, writing in the legation’s newsletter, said the Social Democratic mayor’s decision was “not to be tolerated and wrong as wrong can be.
“The “al-Quds march creates a climate of aggression and of hate, in which hundreds of antisemites come together,” and “strengthens the antisemites,” Rachman wrote.
Posters with the slogan “Zionists out of Israel” were present in abundance at Friday’s event.
Pictures of Iran’s late supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, his successor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah were on display at the march. One protester draped himself in the flag of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – a US- and EU-outlawed terrorist organization.
Khomeini initiated the annual al-Quds Day events, held in various locations internationally on the last Friday of Ramadan, in 1979, with the goal of dismantling Israel. Since 1996, there have been 21 al-Quds Day marches in Berlin.
One protestor draped himself in the flag of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a US and EU outlawed terrorist organization. The al-Quds Day rally was called into a global action in 1979 by the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, with the goal of dismantling Israel. Since 1996, there have been 21 al-Quds day marches in Berlin.
“Today, like every year, tens of thousands haters of Israel are demonstrating under the disguise of anti-Zionism for the destruction of Israel... It [al-Quds Day] deals with a hate festival where flags of various terrorist organizations are waved,” said Rachman.
Israel’s embassy “appealed to the mayor to send a clear signal against this hate parade and deny permission for the annual event on legal grounds.”
A spokesman for the mayor told the Post
on Friday, “The mayor does not comment on representatives of foreign groups.”
The embassy told The Jerusalem Post
on Saturday night that it would like “to clarify its criticism, which is directed at the [al-Quds Day] event and not the mayor or the Berlin Senate.”
The mayor has been criticized for being weak on combating Islamism. Müller came under fire for appearing at an interfaith peace rally with Islamists from the city’s Dar-as-Salam mosque in March. Berlin’s intelligence agency monitors the mosque as a threat to democracy.
According to the agency – the rough equivalent of the Shin Bet – there are 250 active members and supporters of Hezbollah in the German capital.
A total of 950 Hezbollah members and supporters operate in the Federal Republic.
“It is certain that people from Germany will be bused to the al-Quds march in Berlin on Friday, with the transportation paid for with foreign money,” said Rachman.
Last month, Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel
hosted Hamidreza Torabi, an Iranian religious leader who called for Israel’s elimination at last year’s al-Quds march in Berlin. Torabi was welcomed by Gabriel at the Foreign Ministry, at an event titled: “The Conference on the Responsibility of Religions for Peace.”
Gabriel has faced criticism from Israel and human rights groups for supporting anti-Israel NGOs and belittling the Holocaust.
Torabi, who heads the Islamic Academy of Germany – part of the Iranian regime-owned Islamic Center of Hamburg – held a poster in downtown Berlin at the 2016 anti-Israel al-Quds rally urging the “rejection of Israel” and calling the Jewish state “illegal and criminal.”
He is a key organizer of the annual al-Quds events in Berlin. The Islamic Center buses supporters of Hezbollah and the Iranian regime to the annual event, which also serves as a rally for the BDS campaign against Israel. The Hamburg Municipality is a partner of the Islamic Center in the city-run religious council and provides financial support to the Islamic extremist center.
Torabi is a key organizer of the al-Quds event in Berlin. The Islamic Center buses pro-Hezbollah and pro-Iranian regime members and activists to the annual event, which also serves as a gathering for the BDS campaign against Israel. The city of Hamburg is a partner of the Iranian-regime Islamic Center in connection with a city-run religious council and provides support to the Islamic extremist center.
Rachman said that “it is perverse and particularity inhuman that the demonstration will take place near Breitscheidplatz where 12 people were murdered in an attack.” Last December, an ISIS terrorist drove a truck into a Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz. One of the 12 people killed was Dalia Elyakim from Herzliya – her husband, Rami, was among the 50 other people who were wounded.
The diplomat said that “at least the Berlin Interior Ministry for the first time banned Hezbollah flags and certain hate slogans” at this year’s al-Quds march. He said studies show that antisemitism is increasingly openly expressed in Germany and Europe. “Condemning antisemitism is no longer automatic,” rather antisemitism has morphed into a “legitimate opinion” among many people, he said.
Josef Schuster, the head of the nearly 99,000-member Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Post: “The annual al-Quds demonstration in Berlin offers an open space for incitement and hatred toward the State of Israel. We have to remember that al-Quds Day is nothing less than the exposition of the ideology of the Iranian dictatorial regime that includes the denial of the Holocaust, pure antisemitism, the violation of human rights, the sponsorship of worldwide terrorism and striving for the destruction of the Jewish state.”
He continued, “It is a disgrace of the highest degree to allow this kind of demonstration on German streets. I am all the more grateful that several members of the Bundestag and the Berlin parliament together with various civil society organizations and with our support have united to counter this march of hatred. We urge the police to be extremely vigilant and to prevent through official restrictions any potential antisemitic incident.”
Around 500 people protested against the al-Quds march, the Berliner Zeitung