Germany 'ashamed' over anti-Israel protests

2017-12-12 05:13
People protest during a visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's at the EU headquarters in Brussels on December 11. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert, AP)

People protest during a visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's at the EU headquarters in Brussels on December 11. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert, AP)

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Berlin - The German government said on Monday it was "ashamed" of weekend demonstrations against the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which saw some protesters chant anti-Semitic slogans and torch Israeli flags.

Government spokesperson Steffen Seibert told reporters that although Berlin opposed the move by US President Donald Trump last week, it strongly condemned protests in German cities where "hatred" of Israel and Jews was expressed.

"At certain rallies over the weekend, slogans were chanted, Israeli flags were burned and slander against the state of Israel and Jews in general were spread which were shameful," Seibert said.

"One has to be ashamed when hatred of Jews is put on display so openly on the streets of German cities."

Seibert noted that Berlin had a "particular responsibility toward Israel and Jewish people in general" because Nazi Germany slaughtered six million Jews in the Holocaust.

He said that while Germany protected a constitutional right to free speech and assembly, that freedom did not cover incitement of racial hatred or violence.

"It is important that we continue to stand up to all of that," he said.

German cities including Berlin and Munich saw anti-Israel demonstrations over the weekend.

At a protest late on Friday in front of the US embassy in the German capital and again on Sunday in the ethnically diverse Neukoelln district of Berlin, demonstrators burned the Israeli flag.

Seibert said last Wednesday that Chancellor Angela Merkel "does not support" Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital "because the status of Jerusalem can only be negotiated within the framework of a two-state solution".

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