In Berlin, the spring returned on Saturday, with a lot of sunshine and high temperatures, but a dark cloud of hatred invaded part of the city. At the ‘Al Quds March’, hundreds of radical Islamists vowed to get rid of Israel and all Jews in the Middle East.
The annual ‘Al Quds’ event is not new. But the march grew. Within the Berlin Senate, there were voices who wanted to ban the antisemitic event. The same applies to the federal government also based in Berlin. But the decision was taken not to try, because of the assumption the courts would lift any ban.
So, the march of Jew haters commenced at ‘Kurfürstendamm’, one of Berlin’s finest shopping streets. Participants said they would fight Israel again and win. A man holding an Arabic sign said peace would come later “when the Israelis have left the country”.
Berlin had imposed restrictions on the rally. Burning flags or calling for violence was not allowed. The same applied to promoting Hezbollah or similar organizations.
At two counter protests, participants rejected the ‘Al Quds’ event along with the antisemitic approach it has always taken. At noon, a so-called ‘antifascist’ counter protest was held, only meters from the ‘Al Quds’ location in the heart of Berlin.
Here, a few hundred people held pro-Israeli banners. A speaker, who hid in a van while holding her speech, said antisemitism was despicable. The member of the antifascist ‘Aftifa’ movement called “for communism, but against antisemitism”.
The fact that this rally organized by radical left-wingers took place was interesting, also because there is a lot of antisemitism in the far left too. Members who oppose it seem to be a minority.
Another far more official counter protest staged by numerous organizations took place a bit further down ‘Kurfürstendamm’. Prominent speakers were invited. The Berlin Bundestag’s Vice President Petra Pau said when antisemites reared their heads, there needed to be resistance.
Berlin’s Interior Senator Andreas Geisel made clear the city supported its Jews and Israel. He conceded there had been antisemitic incidents in the past months, “on the streets, in schools and social media. This kind of hatred has no place in Berlin or in our society”, Geisel stated.
For the NGO ‘Werteinitiative’, its President Elio Adler told The Berlin Spectator, the ‘Al Quds’ day participants were marching by order of the Iranian regime. The Mullahs demonstrated what its world looked like every day. There were no rights for women or minorities and no freedom of religion or of speech.
Adler said, the ‘Al Quds’ people were in favor of Teheran’s approach. The counter protest, on the other hand, had been staged in support Israel and the Jews, but also for a free, democratic society.
The main counter protest also included the German government’s Coordinator Against Antisemitism, Felix Klein, the Israeli Ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Isaacharoff and Volker Beck, a Green politician who has been one of the staunchest fighters of antisemitism in Germany for years.
U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell was there as well. He said he wanted to tell the ‘Al Quds’ people this: “I am not Jewish and I am not straight. But I am wearing a Kippa.”
Security was tight. Five hundred police officers successfully separated the ‘Al Quds March’ people from counter protesters.