Thousands of pro-Israel demonstrators turn out in Germany

Supporters of Israel braved the bitter cold waving banners such as "Germany for Israel."

By BERLIN
January 11, 2009 22:30
2 minute read.
Thousands of pro-Israel demonstrators turn out in Germany

pro-israel rally 248.88. (photo credit: Jonny Paul)

 
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A day after 8,500 anti-Israel demonstrators marched past government buildings in Berlin chanting "Zionists are fascists and terrorists," pro-Israel supporters staged a rally on Sunday across from the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a symbol of peace in downtown Berlin. Police estimated attendance at 1,500, but Maya Zehden, a spokeswoman for the Jewish community, told The Jerusalem Post that between 3,000 and 4,000 supporters were present. The Jewish Community of Berlin invited leading politicians from Berlin's five political parties to show support for the IDF offensive to end Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and for a halt to Iran's support for the terrorist organization. The rally was a "sign of solidarity" with Israel, the Jewish state "is not alone," and Hamas terror must end, Berlin Jewish community head Lala Süsskind told the crowd. Hamas "is using its own people as human shields," she added. Supporters of Israel stood in the bitter cold waving banners such as "For the sake of Muslims, Stop Hamas," "IDF, we stand with you," "Germany for Israel" and "Iran finances Islamic terror." The head of the Left Party in Berlin, Klaus Lederer, a sharp critic of his party's anti-Israel positions, told the Israel supporters that the slogan "Kill, kill Israel," used at demonstrations across Germany, was "intolerable." Lederer slammed the protesters for using the Gaza conflict as an opportunity to "make an anti-Semitic soup" in Germany. Controversy erupted when the head of the Green Party in Berlin, Franziska Eichstädt -Bohlig, told the crowd that "Israel cannot win this war morally" and devoted most of her talk to criticizing Israel. Lothar E. Klein, a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) city councilman in Dresden and head of the group Saxon Friends of Israel, told the Post that Eichstädts-Bohlig's speech "shows that the terrorists have sympathizers." Levi Salomon, head of the task force combating anti-Semitism for the Berlin Jewish community, termed Eichstädt-Bohlig's speech as "unbalanced" and said it was "intolerable" that she was allowed to speak at a pro-Israel rally. A high-ranking official of the Jewish community told the Post that Eichstädt-Bohlig would not be invited to future events. Jochen Feilcke, the head of the Berlin-Brandenburg German-Israeli friendship society and a former CDU MP, told the Post it was "very necessary" that Jerzy Montag, Green Party MP and chairman of the German-Israeli parliamentary group, issue a statement of solidarity with Israel. Montag failed to respond to multiple Post queries. In Munich, 1,500 pro-Israel supporters appeared at a rally where the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Charlotte Knobloch, spoke, while in Frankfurt, more than 2,000 rallied for Israel's security.

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