BONN (Jan. 14)
Anti-war demonstrators gave vent to anti-Israel sentiments this past weekend as protests against war in the Persian Gulf took place in Germany, France and South Africa.
An Israeli flag and an American flag were burned after an anti-war rally in Cape Town, South Africa.
Protesters in Bonn and other German cities who demonstrated against the war, organized by leftist groups and in some cases endorsed by church leaders, urged the West to examine Israeli brutality against the Palestinians in the occupied territories before turning on Iraq.
The protesters exhorted the government not to go to war to defend the interests of Jews. Germany is prohibited by its constitution from sending forces to the Persian Gulf, which is outside the NATO area.
Bonn sent 18 jet fighters to Turkey, a NATO member, as a precaution against a possible Iraqi attack.
Anti-war fever ran high in Paris where organizers, including the small Communist Party, claimed a turnout of 200,000, although police estimated no more than 40,000 marchers. Former Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson, a Socialist and close friend of President Francois Mitterrand, participated.
However, there were no reports of specifically anti-Israel expressions in French cities where protests were held.
But Nice, on the French Riviera, has become subject to hysteria following rumors that Iraqi terrorists would poison the water supply. Supermarkets there have been stripped of bottled water, sugar and rice by panic-stricken buyers.
The Nice area is a stronghold of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s extreme right-wing National Front, which is openly anti-Arab and covertly anti-Semitic.
ANTI-ISRAEL RALLY IN CAPE TOWN
In South Africa, which has been wracked by internal violence in recent weeks, about 400 people attended an anti-war rally at a movie house in Cape Town.
As they emerged, masked men shouting “death to Israel and the United States” set fire to the flags of both countries. According to media accounts, the men wore Bedouin-type headdress.
The meeting, organized by the Thornhill Residents Association, was called to protest American and allied involvement in the Mideast.
Foreign Minister Roloef “Pik” Botha came under fire for pledging South African support to U.S. military efforts in the Gulf.
Although the African National Congress supports the U.N. resolution ordering Iraq out of Kuwait, speeches at the rally by prominent ANC figures were marked by strong support for the Palestinian cause and anti-Israel sentiment.
A common thread between Israel and South Africa they said, was imperialism’s support for regimes that allowed the exploitation of natural resources.
Israel is not part of the U.S.-led coalition poised to force Iraq out of Kuwait. However, Hussein has vowed to attack Israel if allied troops, led by the United States, attack Iraq. Israel, in turn, says it is ready to defend itself.