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Employees of the European Commission remove the Israeli flag after a meeting between the Israeli Prime Minister and the president of the commission was canceled at the EU headquarters in Brussels on December 11, 2017. Israel's leader Benjamin Netanyahu said on December 11, that the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish state's capital “makes peace possible” as he faced renewed pressure from Europe to reboot the Middle East's moribund peace process. / AFP / JOHN THYS

The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by the United States has sparked acts of violence in Germany and Sweden.

Twenty-four hours apart, the heads of the German and Swedish governments condemned the acts of anti-Semitic violence perpetrated in the two countries after the decision of American President Donald Trump, announced on Wednesday December 6, to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “We oppose all forms of xenophobia and anti-Semitism. No difference of opinion, including on the status of Jerusalem, can justify such actions. (...) The state must use all the means at its disposal to fight against this., said German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday 11 December.

“There is no place for anti-Semitism in our society”, had affirmed, the day before, the Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, encouraging “all democratic forces to work together for an open and tolerant society where everyone feels safe”.

The first incidents broke out early Friday evening. In Berlin, three Israeli flags were burned at the foot of the Brandenburg Gate, in front of the United States Embassy, ​​during a demonstration bringing together around 1 people. Ten people were arrested. At the same time, around 200 people waving Palestinian flags were gathered in a square in Malmö, Sweden's third largest city. “We are launching the Malmö intifada”, said several protesters, some threatening to“cut the throat of the Jews with a knife”.


In Sweden, the most serious incidents occurred on Saturday evening in Gothenburg, the country's second city. Twenty young people had gathered in the community hall of the synagogue, to celebrate the approach of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which begins on December 12, when, around 22 p.m., a dozen masked men threw cocktails Molotov against the locals. The attack caused no injuries. Identified by surveillance cameras, three men were arrested a few hours later. According to the anti-racist magazine Exhibition, it would be two Syrians and a Palestinian, aged 18, 20 and 21, all three arrived in Sweden this year. They were taken into custody for "attempted arson".

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In Berlin, another demonstration took place on Sunday evening in the Neukölln district. About 2 people were present, according to the estimate of the DPA news agency, some waving Turkish flags, others Palestinian flags. Eleven people were arrested, including a man who set fire to an Israeli flag. According to several media, it would be an 500-year-old Syrian.

Neither in Sweden nor in Germany was this violence really surprising. “Among the approximately 30 members of the Arab community living in Neukölln, the conflict in the Middle East is constantly present. It is imported directly into the apartments via the Internet or television. It's a topic even in schoolyards.", explains Franziska Giffey, the social-democratic mayor of this popular district in the south-east of Berlin.

“A lot of Muslims seem to confuse Israel with Swedish Jews. We are held responsible for what is happening in the Middle East and as soon as the conflict between Israel and Palestine ignites it spreads here, probably because many of those who have arrived in Sweden in recent years have roots in the Middle East and feel concerned”, says Freddy Gellberg, the president of the Jewish community of Malmö.

In both countries, the situation, indeed, is not new, even if Freddy Gellberg observed “a lull in recent years”, after a difficult period, at the time of the "Cast Lead" operation launched by the Israeli army against the Gaza Strip in December 2008. At the time, violent demonstrations took place in Malmö, one of the multiculturalism in the country, as well as frequent insults and threats against Jews, not always taken seriously by the authorities. In the spring of 2009, the social-democratic mayor at the time, Ilmar Reepalu, created controversy by comparing anti-Semitism to Zionism and calling on the city's Jewish community to " to get some distance " Israel's policy...

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background investigation

In Berlin, demonstrations similar to those of the last few days took place in July 2014 to protest against the “Protective Edge” operation launched by Israel in Gaza. On this occasion, anti-Semitic slogans were chanted (“Hamas! Hamas! The Jews on the gas! »). At the time, several representatives of the Jewish community were indignant at the fact that the authorities did not prohibit such gatherings.

On November 9, the Swedish Minister of Culture, Alice Bah-Kuhnke, instructed the National Council for the Prevention of Crime to carry out a thorough investigation into anti-Semitism in Sweden, while the latest statistics, dating from 2015, show an increase in complaints of racial crime, with a record 6 complaints recorded – including 980% for acts of anti-Semitism. Another factor of concern for Swedish Jews: the neo-Nazi movement, which has gained visibility and cohesion in recent years, rallying behind the banners of the Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR), banned in Finland since November 4.

In Germany, the annual number of antisemitic offenses has increased slightly in recent years. According to figures released in September by the government, 681 crimes were recorded by the police in the first half of the year, an increase of 6% compared to the first half of 2016. extreme right in 93% of cases. According to the German Interior Ministry, only 23 of the 681 anti-Semitic offenses committed in the first half of this year are in fact linked, directly or indirectly, to the conflicts in the Middle East.

Source: ©  Europe fears renewed anti-Semitism

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