Antisemitic Attacks And Pro-Palestinian Protest Bans In Europe

Berlin’s Jewish community has been shaken by two petrol bombs thrown at a synagogue amid a spike in antisemitic incidents since the Israel-Hamas War began on October 7th, 2023. The Kahal Adass Jisroel synagogue that was attacked also houses a community center, a kindergarten, and high school for 130 children. Antisemitic attacks have increased among some European countries, however, a ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations in France exhibits a clear imbalance of government support.

Police said two people threw “burning bottles filled with liquid” at the Berlin synagogue in what was reported as attempted arson. Anna Segal, the synagogue’s executive director, said the community had felt very threatened in recent days and could feel the tensions rising. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed outrage at the attack, with more violence breaking out elsewhere in Berlin during anti-Israel protests. Jewish institutions often have ongoing police protection in Germany and reports suggest officers were at the scene when the attack happened. Barriers have been set up around the synagogue and Jewish community center in Berlin and officers were positioned along the street. Last week, however, France and parts of Germany banned pro-Palestinian demonstrations, and Paris police broke up a banned rally in Paris with tear gas and water cannon. 

The Israeli regime continues to escalate the conflict and expand destruction in ‘retaliatory’ attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza. This bodes well neither for Palestinians, the citizens of Israel, nor the Jewish people around the world, as antisemitic sentiments continue to gain popularity and the media largely demonstrates support for the far-right Netanyahu regime. It is important to understand that followers of a religion are separate from a religious government; such is true for the Netanyahu regime as well as Hamas. It is clear that people on both sides feel unheard and desperate about the loss of innocent lives. Countries must continue to advocate for peaceful resolutions and refrain from remaining neutral or enabling the State of Israel or Hamas’s damaging endeavors in Gaza and Israeli kibbutzim. 

These attacks in Berlin came on the heels of Lebanon’s Iran-backed militant group, Hezbollah, calling for a “day of rage” over an explosion at a hospital in the Gaza Strip, where hundreds of people are feared dead at the hands of the Israeli government. The Central Council of Jews in Germany said this “day of rage” was simply veiled psychological terror that might lead to tangible attacks. In France, a ruling on Wednesday by the Council of State, which advises the government on law, overturned the blanket ban on pro-Palestinian protests based on an order from Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin. However, it rejected an appeal against the protest ban and said the decision was up to local prefects alone, on a case-by-case basis.

Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Palestinians, onlookers and those involved, must all find empathy with one another. The loss of innocent human lives is certainly not justified by either side, and ought not to be perpetuated any further. It is difficult to observe the governments of these regions act so maliciously and callously, with no regard for human life. It is important, however, for the citizens of the world to recognize the failures of these governments and demand change peacefully, as violence will only lead to more death, destruction, and sorrow for more people.