BERLIN (JTA) — Police made eight arrests during a demonstration by thousands against Israel in Berlin.
Berlin’s Jewish community also filed charges of incitement to hate based on posters displayed at a separate protest on Dec. 29.
An estimated 7,000 people turned out for Saturday’s march, one of several held in European cities over the weekend protesting Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip. In Berlin, some marchers demanded the right of return for Palestinians, referred to citizens in Gaza as prisoners, and charged Israel with blocking delivery of food and medicine.
Some clearly anti-Semitic posters were displayed, said Levi Salomon, who coordinates the task force against anti-Semitism for Berlin’s Jewish community. Salomon told JTA he saw a family with small children holding a sign that read "Israelis are child murderers." Police arrested the adults at his urging, Salomon said, adding that what made the statement illegal was its condemnation of Israelis as a people.
Police spokesman Michael Mass told JTA said that while the demonstration was "for the most part peaceful," arrests were made on charges that included incitement to hate, breach of peace and violating the right to assembly. Mass said
Calling a demonstration peaceful gives the press and public "a false idea," Salomon said, and added that even some legal slogans "can be described as anti-Semitic." For example, Salomon said, he saw and heard slogans at recent demonstrations including "’intifada to the bitter end," "Israel mass murderer," "Zionists are fascists" and "Olmert is a murderer."
Salomon said he filed a suit in Berlin on Jan. 2 in connection with a demonstration four days earlier where protesters were reported to be carrying signs reading "death to Israel," "s**t Jews" and "Juden Raus," or "kick out the Jews." No further information was available about the suit, Mass told JTA.