Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and Italy Condemn Antisemitic Protests
While the majority of pro-Palestinian protests in Paris, Berlin, London, Vienna, Amsterdam and other cities have taken place peacefully, some have descended into verbal and physical attacks on Jews and Jewish property, including synagogues and shops.
"Antisemitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish belief and synagogues have no place in our societies," the three ministers – France's Laurent Fabius, Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Italy's Federica Mogherini – said in a joint statement issued in Brussels on Tuesday.
The ministers added that they respected the right of protesters to freedom of speech and to assemble, but will do everything possible to combat "acts and statements that cross the line into antisemitism, racism and xenophobia".
Since the outbreak of the recent conflict between Israel and Palestine, some demonstrators in Germany have called for Jews to be gassed – a clear reference to the Nazi murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
In Germany, Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews, told reporters some of the demonstrations had been "an explosion of evil and violence-prone hatred of Jews".
"Never in our lives did we believe it possible that antisemitism of the nastiest and most primitive kind would be chanted on the streets of Germany," Graumann said.
On Monday, after violent clashes between iron bar- and stick-wielding youths and riot police in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, which has a large Jewish community, France's Jewish leaders warned that the Arab-Israeli conflict risked spilling over on to the streets of Europe.
The French president, François Hollande, condemned the violence and told both Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, summoned to the Elysée on Monday, that fighting antisemitism would be a "national cause".
Stephan Kramer, director of the European Office on antisemitism of the American Jewish Committee in Brussels said: "We have reached a new level of hatred and violence in all of Europe that cannot even be compared to the antisemitism seen during previous conflicts in Israel."
He added: "It needs to be made very clear that violence is not an appropriate means of protesting."
The European Jewish Congress called for European governments to use "stronger measures" against those engaging in violence.
"While we fully respect and support the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression and understand that tensions are high surrounding the current conflict between Israel and Gaza-based terror organisations, calls for attacks on Jewish community institutions and the utilisation of slogans such as "Death to Jews", a pure and dangerous form of antisemitism, have no place on the streets, nor indeed on social or any other media," it said in a statement.