Anti-Semitic attacks grow in Europe as Gaza conflict goes on

Political and religious leaders in Europe have denounced anti-Semitism in their region as protests grow about the conflict in Gaza.

“Anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish belief and synagogues have no place in our societies,” the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Italy said on July 22.

Thousands defied a government ban against protests in parts of Paris on July 19-20, staging pro-Palestinian rallies that degenerated into violence.

“We have had eight synagogues attacked. We have had shops attacked,” said Roger Cukierman, head of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions.

“We have heard crowds shouting death to the Jews — not death to Israel,” he said.

Muslim and Catholic leaders also denounced the violence at an interfaith ceremony late Monday in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, where a synagogue and Jewish businesses were attacked.

France’s government has cracked down, arresting dozens in recent days and vowing a zero-tolerance policy toward anti-Semitism.

Thousands of protesters have massed in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam and other European cities in mostly peaceful expressions of support for Palestinians in Gaza.

But a leader of Germany’s Jewish community said some of the demonstrators in that country had shown an “explosion of evil and violence-prone hatred of Jews”.

Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said, “Never in our lives did we believe it possible that anti-Semitism of the most primitive kind would be heard on the streets of Germany.”

German political and religious leaders have said current tensions recalled the Nazi era.

The Israeli ambassador to Germany, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, said: “They pursue the Jews in the streets of Berlin . . . as if we were in 1938.”

On July 18, Pope Francis telephoned Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, urging all sides to end hostilities and build peace.

Pope Francis also assured the parish priest of the Holy Family Church, the only Catholic parish in Gaza, of his prayers.

The parish has opened its school to families who fled their homes in bombed neighbourhoods.

The United Nations Human Rights Council  has agreed to launch an international inquiry into violations that may have been committed during Israel’s latest military offensive in Gaza.


News category: World.

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