JTA — The annual al-Quds Day march in Berlin is often cited as a prime example of the rise of so-called new anti-Semitism in Europe: hatred of Jews in connection with Israel, often by people from Muslim societies.
Despite attempts by organizers in recent years to suppress some expressions of anti-Semitism, the march by hundreds of participants features frequent calls about killing Israelis, Zionist conspiracies and chants of “free Palestine from the river to the sea.” Flags of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah are on display, and imams regularly preach anti-Semitic verses from the Quran to the crowd in Farsi and Arabic.
“Under the guise of ‘Israel criticism,’ they use classic anti-Semitic stereotypes, identifying Israel as having ‘Jewish characteristics’: ‘domineering,’ ‘greedy’ or a ‘child killer,’” sociologist Imke Kummer observed about the marchers.
(Iran launched al-Quds Day in 1979 to express support for the Palestinians and oppose Zionism and Israel, and international events of support have followed. Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem.)
Such agitation is seen worldwide. To many, it’s especially troubling on streets where the persecution of Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators was so brutal that it moved whole societies in Europe to vow “Never again.”
Curiously, however, some of the incidents documented at the al-Quds Day march in Berlin have been classified by authorities as forms of far-right anti-Semitism, independent watchdog groups have discovered.
Critics say the march example and other mislabeled incidents are facilitating attempts to politicize anti-Semitism and complicating the apparently losing battle to solve it.
“It means we can’t really use the official statistics on anti-Semitism in Germany,” Daniel Poensgen, a researcher at the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism, or RIAS, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.