The rally against antisemitism was held on Sunday and was attended by several thousand Berliners.
The demonstration was a response to a record increase in reported antisemitic incidents across Germany after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, reports The Jerusalem Post.
Schwarzer said he wanted “to send a powerful and unmistakable signal to the world — from the heart of the capital — that no form of antisemitism, hatred or xenophobia will be tolerated in Berlin or anywhere else in Germany.”
Several demonstrations against antisemitism were organized in major cities across Europe and the United States amid a sharp rise in the number of pro-Palestinian rallies. Although such marches have been relatively muted and heavily monitored by police in Germany, pro-Palestinian sentiment, including among Germany’s large immigrant population, is high.
Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, described a pro-Hamas protest where participants dressed in black to look like Hamas terrorists. According to Schuster, the demonstration was orchestrated by visiting professors from the global south, highlighting that the incident was proof of the danger of the BDS movement, which has been considered officially antisemitic in Germany since 2018.
“Jews are afraid, and they feel left alone. And it’s not only hate that creates this feeling but also silence and indifference,” said Bärbel Bas, the president of Germany’s parliament. “And that’s why it’s important that we make a powerful, wipeable and loud statement here today. Never again is now.”
Other speakers included Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Ron Prosor; Berlin’s mayor, Kai Wegner; author Michel Friedman; 1990s pop music icon Herbert Grönemeyer; and Hubertus Heil, Germany’s minister of labour and social affairs.
The rally united all religions, beginning with the lighting of a Hanukkah menorah and advent candles, and a prayer by a member of the German Islam Conference for “peace for the souls” of the Israelis murdered on October 7 and for the hostages and their families.
“And we pray for peace for the people who are now suffering the consequences of this terrorist organization’s crimes in Gaza,” he added. “Faith is a source from which we draw to create peace. Faith must not divide us. It must unite us.”
While organizers counted 11,000 attendees, police estimated the attendance at 3,000. Those gathered were praised by many speakers for braving the rainy weather to show their support.
Despite the alarming statistics in Germany and elsewhere, Jews are in a better position today in terms of world support than they were in the 1930s-40s, said New Yorker Menachem Rosensaft, who was born at the displaced persons camp at Bergen-Belsen and participated in a recent round table at the memorial.
photo credit: REUTERS/ANNEGRET HILSE