Simultaneous rallies against antisemitism held in Berlin and Brussels

Data published last month by Rias revealed nearly 1,000 incidents — 29 per day — have occurred in Germany since the Hamas atrocities.

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

Thousands of people took to the streets of Berlin and Brussels on Sunday in two demonstrations protesting the surge in antisemitic activity in Europe since the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel.

In Berlin, police reported that 3,200 people had attended a march from the Tiergarten to the Brandenburg Gate, although organizers independently estimated that nearly four times that number had turned up. One of the speakers at the rally, the writer Michel Friedman, who also previously served as a president of the Central Council of German Jews, received loud applause when he declared, “Too few people have come.”

Friedman’s concern was echoed by Hubertus Heil, the federal government’s Minister of Labor. “Too many decent people are quiet,” Heil declared. “We don’t need a decent, silent majority. We need a clearly loud majority that stands up now and not later. Antisemitism must end.”

Attendees also heard from Bärbel Bas, the president of the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor, and pop singer Roland Kaiser. The current president of the Central Council of German Jews, Josef Schuster, offered a bleak appraisal of the situation facing the more than 100,000 Jews in Germany, saying, “Sometimes I don’t recognize this country. Something is out of joint.”

Antisemitic incidents have risen precipitously in Germany during the last decade, with new records being reached in the weeks since the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel. Data published last month by Rias, a federally-funded antisemitism watchdog, revealed nearly 1,000 incidents — 29 per day — since the Hamas atrocities.

A pro-Hamas counter-demonstration at the same time as the rally attracted 2,500 people, according to police. No arrests were made.

Separately, more than 4,000 people gathered in Brussels — the seat of the European Union — for a demonstration against antisemitism initiated by the Coordination Committee of Jewish Organizations of Belgium, the Forum of Jewish Organizations, and the Belgian League Against Antisemitism.

Participants waved signs declaring “You don’t have to be Jewish to fight antisemitism” along a route that passed both the Great Synagogue in the Belgian capital and its Jewish Museum.

Among the speakers at the Brussels event was Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission. “There should be no place for this hatred, especially here in Europe. And nothing justifies the rise of antisemitism. No war, no political argument can excuse it,” she stated.

Joël Rubinfeld, president of the Belgian League Against Antisemitism, told the protesters that Belgium had witnessed “a huge increase” in antisemitic hatred since the Oct. 7 atrocities.

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“We are living in a very complicated period,” he said, adding that the rally sent “a message to the Jewish community of Belgium to tell them that they are not alone.”