German prosecutor deems waving Israeli flag at protest countering Cast Lead demo "provocation."
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT IN BERLIN
A local district court in the West German city of Bochum fined a student 300 Euros on Wednesday for displaying an Israel flag at a demonstration organized by Muslim organizations against the IDF Operation Cast Lead in January. According to Der Westen, a regional paper in Bochum, the public prosecutor termed the Israeli flag as "provoking" within a special situation.
The 30-year-old student, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she fears for her safety due to "massive problems with Nazis", told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the "Israeli flag is a provocation for the anti-Semites." She asked rhetorically, "What is provocative about an Israel flag?" The public prosecutor in Bochum was not available for an immediate comment on the case.
According to Der Westen, the local district court judge deemed the protest of the five activists expressing solidarity with Israel as a "dangerous situation."
A spokesman for the district court, Volker Talarowski, told the Post that there was a "violation of the right to assembly" and the court's decision was issued "independent of a political motivation." Talarowski added that the pro-Israel demonstrators failed to register their protest 48 hours before the event.
Yet the student, who is appealing the fine, said a special regulation permits "spontaneous" demonstrations without a pre-registration. In response to a hardcore anti-Israeli demonstration in Bochum attended by 1,600 protesters on January 17, the student, along with four pro-Israeli activists, displayed a banner stating "Against anti-Semitism and fascism: Solidarity with Israel" as well as the Israel flag. She told the Post that pro-Palestinian supporters "compared Israel with Nazi Germany." Chants of "children murderer Israel" and "Israel terrorist" filled the protest as well as a banner reading "stop the Holocaust in Gaza."
"There is no basis" to draw a parallel between Nazi Germany and Israel, she said. "A Holocaust did not take place in Gaza. Israel defended its territory from rocket fire" emanating from Hamas, added the student. She termed the argument comparing the Israeli military operation in Gaza with the Holocaust as anti-Semitic.
In the Der Westen news report, the student said there is a "confusion of perpetrator and victim. You can only call that anti-Semitism." She told the Post that the protestors in Bochum designated Israelis as Nazis and the Palestinians in Gaza as Jews during the Third Reich.
During Operation Cast Lead over 100,000 mainly German Muslims protested across German cities and frequently compared Israel with the Hitler movement. The European Union's working definition of anti-Semitism defines such comparisons between the Nazis and the Jewish state as a modern manifestation of anti-Semitism, largely because the parallel delegitimizes Israel's right to exist.
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