At least a dozen people were charged for incidents related to anti-Semitism after hundreds gathered in Germany’s capital on Sunday and burned Israeli flags to protest President Donald Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
People who stir up hatred against Jews or Israel also are attacking the German constitution, Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told German media after at least 10 people were arrested during the protests.
“Any kind of anti-Semitism is an attack on everyone. Anti-Semitism must never be allowed to have a place [in society] again,” Gabriel said.
Anti-Semitism and hate speech are very serious offenses in Germany due to the country’s role in the death of around 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. Germany has strict laws banning Nazi symbols and what Germans call volksverhetzung, which roughly translates to hate speech or incitement of the people.
Police brought charges against at least 12 people during Sunday’s protests, dubbed the Day of Rage, which took place outside the U.S. embassy in Berlin.
People were protesting Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Half of Jerusalem had been envisioned as the future capital of a Palestinian state, if a two-state solution were reached between Israel and Palestine. For many across the Middle East, Trump’s announcement on Wednesday put an end to any chance of a peace agreement by giving Israel what it wanted most without extracting any concessions.
Protests in Palestine and the Middle East over the last five days left four Palestinians dead and hundreds injured. Meanwhile, the State Department issued a safety warning for Americans traveling abroad, and the weekend saw an uptick in anti-Semitic attacks.
Three people were arrested in Sweden on Sunday for allegedly throwing firebombs at a synagogue in the city of Gothenburg. It was the second anti-Jewish attack in Sweden in just two days, and took place as people gathered to protest Trump’s Jerusalem announcement.
In Germany, Gabriel said he recognized people’s right to protest Trump’s decision, but that stirring up hatred against Jews or questioning Israel’s right to exist would not be tolerated.
Gabriel has been accused of belittling the importance of the Holocaust in the past. In April, he wrote an op-ed in a local newspaper claiming that social democrats, like the Jews, were victims of Nazism.
The opinion piece was attacked for making false equivalents and comparing the fate of persecuted Jews with that of a political group.
“Anyone with knowledge of the Final Solution is aware of the fact that the fate of European Jews under the Nazis was different than any of the other victims of the Nazis,” Dr Efraim Zuroff, an American-born Israeli historian, told The Jerusalem Post at the time.