Saturday, February 07, 2015

Anti-Israel and antisemitic demonstrations in Germany in summer 2014

Bochum, Gelsenkirchen, and Essen, summer 2014

I've been hesitant to write on the topic of anti-Israel demonstrations that happened in this area of Germany last summer, but after reading that a judge in Wuppertal refused to believe that three people who firebombed a synagogue were motivated by antisemitism (see my previous post), I thought it was important to post videos and my comments on several anti-Israel demos and marches, in order to provide some information about the anti-Israel (and antisemitic) political atmosphere then.

I have viewed videos of two demonstrations in Bochum, one in Gelsenkirchen, and one in Essen. Essen is about a 12 minute train ride from Bochum, and Gelsenkirchen is about 30 minutes away by train.

I was able to find information about two anti-Israel demos in Bochum. I had not yet arrived in Bochum (I only came here in early October). I found out about them because several videos were posted to Youtube showing the demonstrations. I was looking for them in the course of viewing a number of videos of anti-Israel rallies and marches in Europe, after I had experienced an anti-Israel rally in Zurich, Switzerland, when I was visiting there briefly in July. (I wrote a post about it last summer).

A nearby town, Essen, had more demonstrations than Bochum, including one that threatened the Old Synagogue in Essen. There have also been anti-Israel rallies in Dortmund, with antisemitic placards. I've looked at the online version of the newspaper Der Westen and have seen photographs from these rallies. I've also viewed two videos of the demonstrations in Bochum. These are my comments on the two Bochum demonstrations, one in Gelsenkirchen, and one in Essen.

Bochum, July 11, 2014

This demonstration consisted almost entirely of Muslim men chanting Islamic slogans like "Allahu Akbar," and "Takbir, Allahu Akbar," "There is no god but God and Muhammad the prophet of God," "Muhammad habib Allah," and "Free Islam." For much of the time it seemed more like a rally for Islam than for any particular political cause.

 There were also specifically anti-Israel slogans;  "Kinder mörder Israel" "Frauen mörder Israel," "Free Palestine," "Stopp der Krieg," "Free Islam." "Gaza brennt, Europa brennt." The slogan "Child murder Israel" is redolent of the ritual murder accusations against Jews from the Middle Ages.

At the 24:52 point, the demonstrators start to chant a blatantly antisemitic slogan: "Khaybar, Khaybar Ya Yahud, jaish Muhammad sayaud" - "Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, Mohammed’s army will return. ” This refers to a battle in the oasis of Khaybar, in Arabia, between Jewish tribes and the followers of Muhammad in 629 C.E., which the Jews lost to the Muslims. They were forced to pay tribute in order to remain in the oasis, but were expelled from it several years later. Jeffrey Goldberg  says about the slogan when it is chanted today: "The intent of the slogan was obvious - the reconstituted army of Muhammad in Palestine would do to the Jews today what the first army of the Prophet did to the Jews in Arabia fourteen hundred years ago."

Bochum, July 25, 2014

Another demonstration was held during the day a couple of weeks later, this time in front of the main train station and marching from it. I watched a video (which has subsequently been taken down from Youtube), and it showed people chanting some of the same slogans. This was a more mixed crowd, both men and women, and did not seem to be entirely Muslim, although there were still Muslim slogans.

Some of the chants:

"Terror-staat Israel" - Terror state Israel
"Kinder mörder Israel" - Israel, child murderer
Allahu Akbar - God is the greater
Takbir, Allahu Akbar - "God is the greater" (in Arabic). "Takbir" is said first to invite people to say "Allahu Akbar."
"Freiheit fur Palastina," (Freedom for Palestine), followed by "Takbir," and  "Allahu Akbar"
"Stopp den krieg" - Stop the war
"Free Free Palastina"
And in Persian: "Marg bar Israel" - death to Israel

Another, shorter video of the same demo, titled "Antisemitische Demo Bochum 25.7.2014 - 1." It includes the opening speech, in German. This and the next video appear to have posted to Youtube by the Antifa people.

One thing to notice is that right behind the big posters that say, "We are not terrorists; we want peace and freedom; Free Palestine," there is a black flag with white Arabic writing on it. The words on the flag are the shehadah, the Muslim declaration of faith: "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God." This is not just a religious statement however, it is the black flag of jihad.

A second video of the same demonstration, titled "Anti-Semitic demonstration Bochum 07.25.2014 - 2 - Israel flag is destroyed"


The opening scene shows men holding an Israeli flag and tearing it to pieces. Next scene - trying to burn another Israeli flag and chanting "freedom for Gaza." A woman wearing a Turkish flag also tried to burn it.

Gelsenkirchen, July 12, 2014

Here is a video of another demonstration in a town nearby Bochum, Gelsenkirchen, also in July, 2014.

They start with "Allahu Akbar" and then go to "Khaybar Khaybar Ya Yahud." This again was a night-time rally with almost only Muslim men in attendance.

Essen, July 18, 2014

Another rally in Essen on July 18, 2014 descended into violence. At first there was an anti-Israel rally sponsored by Die Linke (the Left Party), and in another part of downtown, a pro-Israel rally. Once the Left Party rally ended (and it appears that there was also a sizable contingent of young Muslims, chanting the same slogans I've noted above), these demonstrators ran shouting to the pro-Israel rally in Willy Brandt Plaza. The anti-Israel demonstrators are clearly antisemitic, not just anti-Israel. They're chanting "Death to the Jews" and "Adolf Hitler" (by the way, it's illegal to chant slogans like these in Germany), and making the Nazi salute (also illegal). Later in the video you can hear the slogan "Fuck the Jews." This video helpfully has English translations of some of the chants and signs.

A couple of stills from this video:

Notice the Star of David with the swastika inside it.

And a woman with "Fuck you Israel" written on the back of her shirt:

"Freedom for Palestine. Stop the Jewish terror."
From watching these videos and examining the signs, it's clear that some of the people who went to these demonstrations were motivated by more than outrage about the sufferings of the people of Gaza at the hands of the Israeli army. They were motivated by pure, naked antisemitism. People shouting "Death to Jews" are not criticizing the state of Israel or protesting against it. They are inciting to murder. People who make a sign where the swastika is inside the Star of David are not just criticizing Israel - they are equating Israel with the Nazis, and therefore also equating what the Gaza War with the Holocaust. This is also blatantly antisemitic. People who link "freedom for Palestine" with stopping "Jewish terror" are not calling for a free, independent Palestinian state - they are accusing Jews of being terrorists.

Update - the website "Honestly Concerned" posted links to videos documenting a whole series of anti-Israel demonstrations in Germany in the summer of 2014:  VIDEOS OF A SMALL SELECTION OF ANTI-ISRAEL HATRED DEMONSTRATIONS IN RECENT WEEKS

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