Europe fears renewed anti-Semitism

Home"TO THE ONE"Europe fears renewed anti-Semitism
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Employees of the European Commission remove the Israeli flag after a meeting between the Israeli Prime Minister and the President of the Commission of the EU headquarters in Brussels on December 11, 2017. Israel's leader Benjamin Netanyahu said on December 11, that the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish state's capital, "makes peace possible" as it faces the challenge of Europe to reboot the Middle East's moribund peace process. / AFP / JOHN THYS

The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by the United States has provoked acts of violence in Germany and Sweden.

Twenty-four hours apart, the leaders of the German and Swedish governments condemned the acts of anti-Semitic violence perpetrated in both countries following the decision of US President Donald Trump, announced on Wednesday (December 6th), to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. "We oppose any form of xenophobia and anti-Semitism. No difference of opinion, including on the status of Jerusalem, can justify such actions. (...) The state must use all the means at its disposal to fight against that. "German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday.

"There is no place for anti-Semitism in our society"Sweden's prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said yesterday. "All democratic forces to work together for an open and tolerant society where everyone feels safe".

The first incidents broke out early Friday. In Berlin, three Israeli flags were burned at the foot of the Brandenburg Gate, in front of the US Embassy, ​​during a demonstration involving about 1,200 people. Ten people were arrested. At the same time, about 200 people waving Palestinian flags were gathered in a square in Malmö, the third largest city in Sweden. "We are launching the Malmö Intifada", said several protesters, some threatening to"Slaughter the Jews with a knife".


In Sweden, the most serious incidents occurred Saturday night in Gothenburg, the second largest city in the country. Twenty young people gathered in the community hall of the synagogue, to celebrate the approach of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, which begins on December 12, when, around 22 hours, a dozen masked men launched cocktails Molotov against the locals. The attack did not hurt anyone. Identified through surveillance cameras, three men were arrested a few hours later. According to the anti-racist magazine Expoit would be two Syrians and a Palestinian aged 18, 20 and 21, all of whom arrived in Sweden this year. They were placed in custody for "Attempted arson".

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In Berlin, another demonstration took place on Sunday night in the district of Neukölln. About 2,500 people were present, according to the estimate of the DPA news agency, waving for some Turkish flags, for others Palestinian flags. Eleven people were arrested including a man who set fire to an Israeli flag. According to several media reports, he is an 18-year-old Syrian.

Neither Sweden nor Germany, this violence really surprised. "Of the approximately 30,000 members of the Arab community living in Neukölln, the Middle East conflict is ongoing. It is imported directly into the apartments via the Internet or television. It's a subject even in schoolyards »explains Franziska Giffey, the social democratic mayor of this popular district in the south-east of Berlin.

"Many Muslims seem to amalgamate between Israel and Swedish Jews. We are being held responsible for what is happening in the Middle East and as soon as the conflict between Israel and Palestine ignites, it is spreading to this point, probably because many of those who have arrived in Sweden in recent years have roots in the Middle East and feel concerned "says Freddy Gellberg, president of the Malmö Jewish community.

In both countries, the situation is indeed not new, even if Freddy Gellberg observed "A lull in recent years", after a difficult period, at the time of operation "Cast Lead" launched by the Israeli army against the Gaza Strip, in December 2008. At the time, violent demonstrations had taken place in Malmö, one of the most more multicultural of the country, as well as insults and frequent threats against Jews, not always taken seriously by the authorities. In the spring of 2009, then Social Democrat Mayor Ilmar Reepalu created a controversy comparing anti-Semitism to Zionism and calling on the city's Jewish community to " to get some distance " of Israel's politics ...

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Background investigation

In Berlin, demonstrations similar to those of the past few days took place in July 2014 to protest against Israel's "Protective Edge" operation on Gaza. On this occasion, antisemitic slogans had been chanted ("Hamas! Hamas! Jews on gas! "). At the time, several representatives of the Jewish community were indignant at the fact that the authorities did not prohibit such gatherings.

On 9 November, Swedish Culture Minister Alice Bah-Kuhnke instructed the National Council for the Prevention of Delinquency to conduct a substantive investigation into anti-Semitism in Sweden, while the latest statistics, dating from 2015, show an increase in complaints of racial crime, with a record of 6,980 registered complaints - of which 4% for acts of anti-Semitism. Another factor of concern for Swedish Jews: the neo-Nazi movement, which has gained visibility and cohesion in recent years, gathering behind the banners of the Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR), banned in Finland since November 30.

In Germany, the annual number of antisemitic offenses has increased slightly in recent years. According to figures released in September by the government, 681 crimes were recorded by the police in the first half of the year, an increase of 6% compared to the first half of 2016. This is essentially anti-Semitism. far right in 93% of cases. According to the German Ministry of the Interior, only 23 of the 681 anti-Semitic crimes committed in the first half of this year are directly or indirectly related to the conflicts in the Middle East.

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