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Groups protest Germany’s support of Israel

Jewish groups critical of German support for Israel joined with Muslim and Catholic protesters in Berlin.

Friday’s small demonstration outside the federal chancellery in Berlin, on the eve of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Jerusalem, dispersed after about an hour. Organizers said they had hoped for more participants, despite bad weather.

Several Jewish participants told JTA that they were pleased by the media interest, including Al Jazeera and German press agencies.

Demonstrator Iris Hefets, 43, who moved to Germany from Israel six years ago “because of the political situation,” said she hoped the demonstration would show Germans “that it is OK to criticize Israel. It has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.”

On Tuesday, Merkel will be the first German chancellor to address the Knesset. Her official visit, set to honor Israel’s 60th anniversary, features the first joint Cabinet meeting between Germany and Israel. Merkel has said she intends to repeat the meeting every year.

Germany is considered among Israel’s strongest allies. Merkel has been seen as particularly supportive, and unbending, in her statements condemning attacks against the Jewish state. She has pledged not to meet with Hamas, the Islamist group ruling the Gaza Strip, until its leadership recognizes Israel’s right to exist.

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