(JTA) — Demonstrators in European capitals came out to show their support for Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip.
More than 1,000 people rallied Wednesday evening near the Israeli Embassy in London. A few dozen Muslim counter-demonstrators, who took part in the earlier daily anti-Israel demonstration, refused to leave the area; a large police contingent separated the two groups. Six of the anti-Israel demonstrators were arrested.
Though police managed to prevent physical clashes between the two groups, in verbal clashes the anti-Israel demonstrators called the Jews “Nazis” and shouted “Shame on you.”
Matt Freelander, the young Jewish Londoner who initiated the pro-Israel rally, told JTA, “I watched too much television and saw too many of the anti-Israel demonstrations.” He started a group on the Internet social networking site Facebook calling for a demonstration in support of Israel. From that point on, he said, “it snowballed,” and the group now numbers 1,000 members.
The Jewish demonstrators carried placards that read “End Hamas Terror” and “Peace to Israel and Gaza.”
Also Wednesday night, a Brussels pro-peace demonstration organized by the Coordinating Council of Jewish Communities in Belgium drew nearly 700 people, according to police estimates.
Called amid heightened security alerts and a wave of anti-Semitic attacks on community organizations, the protest called for peace in the Middle East and condemned the Hamas government in Gaza.
The demonstration was held in front of the Iranian Mission to the European Union, and the organizers of the protest emphasized the support Hamas has been receiving from the Islamic Republic.
While the community’s security organization had expressed concerns about possible attacks and counter-demonstrations, the protest went off undisturbed.