Student fined for Israel flag in Germany

German prosecutor deems waving Israeli flag at protest countering Cast Lead demo "provocation."

anti israel protest 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
anti israel protest 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A local district court in the West German city of Bochum fined a student €300 on Wednesday for displaying an Israeli flag at a demonstration organized by Muslim groups against the IDF's Operation Cast Lead in January. According to Der Westen, a regional paper in Bochum, the public prosecutor termed the Israeli flag as "provocative" 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 that the "Israeli flag is a provocation for the anti-Semites. What is provocative about an Israeli flag?" The Bochum prosecutor was not available for comment. According to Der Westen, the judge deemed the protest of the five activists expressing solidarity with Israel to be a "dangerous situation." A spokesman for the district court, Volker Talarowski, told the Post that there was a "violation of the right to assembly," because the pro-Israel demonstrators failed to register their protest 48 hours before the event. He added that the court's decision was issued "independent of a political motivation." Yet the student, who is appealing the fine, said a special regulation permits "spontaneous" demonstrations without pre-registration. In response to an anti-Israeli demonstration in Bochum attended by 1,600 protesters on January 17, the student, along with four pro-Israel activists, displayed a banner stating "Against anti-Semitism and fascism: Solidarity with Israel" as well as the Israeli flag. She told the Post that pro-Palestinian supporters "compared Israel with Nazi Germany." Chants of "children murderer Israel" and "Israel terrorist" were part of the protest as well as a banner stating "stop the Holocaust in Gaza." "There is no basis for drawing 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, she added. 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. During Operation Cast Lead, over 100,000 mainly German Muslims protested in German cities and frequently compared Israel with the Hitler regime. Meanwhile, 6,000 people took part in a peace rally in the German city of Dortmund over the weekend to protest against an annual neo-Nazi rally provocatively held on Germany's national Anti-War Day, the date on which Hitler invaded Poland. The organizers of the counter-rally arranged more than 30 different events around the city, including concerts by Irish singer Bob Geldorf and the German Tenors, to publicly show the "typical Dortmund citizen's disapproval" with the neo-Nazi demonstration and demonstrate that the rally was completely at odds with the city's proud multicultural background. Although Dortmund's Jewish community is estimated at around 4,200, only 700 Jews attended the demonstration. A spokeswoman for the local Jewish community explained that more community members could not attend because the rally was on Shabbat. Lea Luisa Strasburger contributed to this report.