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'Enough is enough'

September 14, 2014

Germany's Jewish community has gathered to protest anti-Semitism. Chancellor Merkel's cabinet is also there to speak out against the hatred, recently reignited when Israel launched an offensive on the Gaza Strip.

Demonstration gegen Antisemitismus in Berlin 14.09.2014
Image: John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images

Crowds gathered before the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Sunday for a demonstration against a recent wave of anti-Semitism in Germany. The Central Council of Jews in Germany organized the rally, citing a stark rise in aggression and violence toward the country's Jewish communities.

This protest is necessary after "the worst anti-Semitic rhetoric in many years," the Central Council's president, Dieter Graumann, told the demonstrators.

Graumann noted that criticism of the Israeli government was acceptable, but that the lines between disapproval of a country's decisions and hatred of its people must never be blurred.

"Enough is enough...We are here to [say] together, as one: There is no place for the hatred of Jews!"

Members of the German government were in attendance on Sunday, including Chancellor Angela Merkel. Other prominent guests included German President Joachim Gauck, the head of the German bishops' conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx and the head of the Council of the German Evangelical Church, Nikolaus Schneider.

At least 4,000 people had gathered for the demonstration in Berlin on Sunday.

Judaism 'part of our identity'

The German chancellor also spoke out against the wave of violence and hatred, reminding Germans of their duty to stand up against anti-Semitism.

The Jewish way of life "is part of our identity," she told the crowd, adding: "We want [members of the Jewish community] to feel safe in Germany."

Echoing a promise made this summer by the German justice minister, the chancellor reminded the protesters on Sunday that German authorities would rigorously pursue any threats and acts of violence toward Jews.

Summer violence

The noticeable rise in anti-Semitism began this summer after the Israeli government authorized a military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The nearly two months of fighting - including airstrikes and raids on underground tunnels - resulted in the deaths of roughly 2,100 people in Gaza. According to the United Nations, 70 percent of those killed were civilians.

Israel lost 72 of its own citizens, most of whom were military personnel.

In Germany, there have been reports of threats made against Jewish communities. At least two Palestinians have been arrested in recent weeks on suspicion of setting a fire at a synagogue in the western city of Wuppertal.

The controversy surrounding the deadly military campaign drew criticism not only from abroad, but also at home. On Friday, 43 reservists from Israel's elite army intelligence wrote an open letter to their government, saying they refused to serve after the military's "abuses" against Palestinians.

kms/nm (AFP, dpa, epd)