Pro-Palestinian or anti-Semitic? Rival rallies face off in Berlin on Quds Day (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

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Pro-Palestinian or anti-Semitic? Rival rallies face off in Berlin on Quds Day (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

The annual Quds Day march held in the German capital in support of Palestine has been slammed as anti-Semitic by officials and hundreds of counter-protesters who staged a pro-Israeli rally right across the street.

Usually held on the last day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the annual Quds Day (the Arabic name for Jerusalem) demonstration is a protest against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and the occupation of East Jerusalem in particular. About a thousand of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through the Berlin streets shouting slogans, such as “Zionism is racism” and “Israel out!” They were also carrying banners and placards that read: “Stop Apartheid Israel.”

Just meters away, hundreds of people staged a counter-rally in support of Israel. It was attended by the US and Israeli ambassadors to Germany as well as by several German politicians, including Berlin’s top anti-Semitism chief, Felix Klein, who recently provoked a stir in by advising the German Jews against wearing kippahs.

We just want Palestine to be free

With significant police forces deployed to separate the rival events, no incidents were reported. The pro-Palestinian protesters insisted their aims have always been peaceful and aimed only at supporting Palestinians. “We do not want to fight; we want to be in peace,” a young woman, who attended the Al Quds march, told RT.

The counter-protesters were unconvinced by such claims though. “It is not about criticizing Israel, it is about delegitimizing Israel and about hating Jews,” one counter-protester said. Klein also expressed his concerns about the growing climate of anti-Semitism in Germany and called Al Quds march “unacceptable.”

It is unacceptable to make the Jews in Europe responsible for what the Israeli government is doing.

An MP from the Left Party, Petra Pau, meanwhile denounced the Al Quds demonstrators as “misanthropists, who put the very existence of Israel into question,” and accused the government of not doing enough to tackle anti-Semitic sentiments in Germany.

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This issue has recently drawn attention of the German government as Chancellor Angela Merkel said that every synagogue in Germany should have police protection. Anti-Semitic incidents indeed rose nearly 20 percent between 2017 and 2018, with the number of physical attacks recorded almost doubling, according to interior ministry figures.

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