Berlin  - Around 300 people gathered for a rally in front of Neukölln city hall on Sunday.  The protest's slogan was "Jewish life is not a provocation" and was organised by the Neukölln Alliance Against Antisemitism. The event came in response to a number of antisemitic verbal and physical attacks recently reported in Berlin.

Most recently, the police reported the antisemitic harassment of the Israeli owner of a bar in Dunckerstraße in Prenzlauer Berg by a 48-year-old. A week earlier the owner of a bar in Wipperstraße, Neukölln was verbally abused by 67-year-old man.

The Research and Information Centre on Antisemitism Berlin (RIAS Berlin) recorded just over a thousand incidents in 2020, including 17 physical attacks.

Neukölln mayor: "Jewish life must be visible"

"Jewish life must of course be visible, not only in Neukölln, where this has not been the case sufficiently so far, but also in the whole of Berlin," said District Mayor Martin Hikel (SPD) during the rally. Displaying Jewish symbols in public can often associated with dangers, as the Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin (MFFB), a member of the Alliance Against Antisemitism, emphasised prior to the rally: "In multicultural Neukölln, cosmopolitanism and tolerance mean that every colour and every flag, every symbol is welcome here - except the Star of David."

This was the experience of young Jewish women on the fringes of a pro-Palestinian rally at Hermannplatz in May. After being subjected to antisemitic slurs, she was advised by a policeman not to wear her Star of David necklace.

Some commentators in local media also questioned the wisdom of wearing such a symbol in public but at Sunday's protest, speakers harshly criticised that attitude. "I understood it to mean that one should give way to violence. But you must reprimand the attackers, not the attacked," said Sigmount A. Königsberg, the antisemitism commissioner of the Jewish Community of Berlin.

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