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Merkel pledges to protect Jews in Germany against attacks

Vice chancellor Angela Markel/FILE

Vice chancellor Angela Markel/FILE

BERLIN, July 23- German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged the country’s Jewish community Wednesday her unwavering support as she condemned anti-Semitic slurs and threats at pro-Palestinian demonstrations, a government spokesman said.

The spokesman, Georg Streiter, said Germany would not tolerate aggression against the resurgent Jewish population, after protests against the Israeli offensive in Gaza where violent slogans were used.

“The chancellor and the entire German government condemn the anti Semitic remarks made at pro Palestinian and anti Israeli demonstrations in Germany in the strongest terms,” Streiter told reporters.

“These outbursts are an attack on freedom and tolerance and an attempt to shake the foundations of our free and democratic system. We cannot and will not tolerate this.”

Streiter said any violence against Jewish people or institutions would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

“The chancellor and the entire government welcome the revival of Jewish life in Germany and will continue to stand up for the security of Jewish citizens,” he said.

He added that the German government saw Israel as a “friend and partner” and would work with “all its strength” to maintain those ties.

Meanwhile German President Joachim Gauck telephoned the leader of the country’s 200,000-strong Jewish community, Dieter Graumann, to discuss “dreadful anti-Semitic incidents” in recent days.

Graumann said in a statement that Gauck told him he took Jewish fears “very seriously”.

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“Many members of our community are very shaken, worried and absolutely shocked by the worst anti Jewish slogans that some out-of-control crowds have shouted, calling for Jews to be ‘gassed’, ‘burned’ and ‘slaughtered’,” Graumann said.

He said Gauck and several other officials had assured Jews that they are “welcome and not alone”.

German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier issued a joint statement with his French and Italian counterparts Tuesday warning of a rise in anti Jewish incidents in Europe during the bloody conflict in Gaza.

In Germany, protesters waving Palestinian flags and signs of late leader Yasser Arafat in recent days shouted anti Semitic slogans at rallies against Israeli military action in Gaza.

Exclaiming “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), crowds in Berlin have reportedly yelled “Death to Israel” and chanted “Zionists are fascists, killing children and civilians”.

Further demonstrations are planned this week.

Anti-Semitic slogans are illegal in Germany, where atonement for the slaughter of some six million European Jews in the Holocaust is a foundation of the post-war order.

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