Berlin’s annual anti-Israel Islamist march, the Al Quds Day demonstration, drew pro-Israel counter-protesters to the streets of former West Berlin.
Police spokesperson Michael Gassen told JTA that about 600 Islamist demonstrators and about 300 pro-Israel protesters were kept well apart from each other during Saturday’s march. There were no arrests.
The anti-Israel demonstrators chanted slogans calling Israel a terrorist state and calling for its dissolution.
The many children among them “makes me sad,” Levi Salomon, Berlin Jewish Community representative in charge of fighting anti-Semitism, told JTA. “The indoctrination of the children is a central problem.”
Pro-Israel demonstrators came from across the mainstream political spectrum, and included local Iranian pro-democracy activists, Salomon added.
Al Quds Day, a protest against Israel’s existence, was established in 1979 by Iran’s Islamic revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini. Since then, his followers have marked the day in cities around the world with large Muslim populations, on the first Saturday after Ramadan. Berlin’s annual demonstration has attracted between 300 and 1,000 Islamists over the years. Men and women march separately.
This year’s pro-Israel counter-protest was organized by the German-Israeli Society; the Jewish Community of Berlin; the Anti-Defamation Center; the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism; the exile opposition group Green Party of Iran; the German-Israel Society Berlin/Potsdam branch; the activist organization Stop the Bomb; the Association of People Persecuted By the Nazi Regime; the Coordinating Council of German Non-Governmental Organizations Against Anti-Semitism; and others.