Thousands protest in Frankfurt against anti-Semitism

Thomas Deichmann writes from Frankfurt about an important rally against anti-Semitism that took place on November 17th.

Thousands protest in Frankfurt against anti-Semitism

Last Friday afternoon, 17th November, for the first time since the anti-Semitic pogrom of Hamas against Jews in Israel on 7th October, a huge crowd of approximately two thousand Frankfurt citizens gathered for a rally and march against growing anti-Semitism in many parts of the world. The slogan of the event, which started at the Frankfurt Opernplatz in the city centre, was "Never again is now! United against hatred of Jews in Frankfurt and worldwide" (Nie wieder ist jetzt! Gemeinsam gegen Judenhass in Frankfurt und weltweit).

The event was initiated by the Frankfurt Römerbergbündnis--an alliance of organisations which was formed in 1978 against neofascist parties. In its name the alliance carries a reference to the Römerberg, the place where the Frankfurt city parliament is based. The alliance includes the Frankfurt Jewish Community, the Catholic as well as the Protestant Church, the German Trade Union (DGB) and the Frankfurter Jugendring, a local network for the youth. The magistrate of Frankfurt also supported the event and called all citizens to come out on the streets and support "this important sign of solidarity and democratic core values".

At the rally many participants were waving Israel flags and banners showing support for the Jews and Israel. All speakers emphasised that their support for Israel against Hamas and their opposition to anti-Semitism had nothing to do with anti-Islamism. Benjamin Graumann, board member of the Jewish Community Frankfurt, expressed his satisfaction to see so many people out on the streets: "We realise that we are not alone". The Jewish community, which has a very long and active tradition in Frankfurt politics, culture and society, would not allow itself to be intimidated, he said. Frankfurt citizens united should not allow the streets of their city to be left to people who hate Jews, he added, receiving loud and long applause.

Graumann was also sharply critical of organisations and representatives of the Frankfurt art and culture scene, that had not publicly spoken out against anti-Semitic expressions in recent weeks. At some Frankfurt schools clear anti-Semitic incidents had occured, scaring Jewish pupils, without teachers stepping in. He also criticised Frankfurt University, where Jewish students had been insulted and would not dare anymore to show or talk about their religion: "Where are the schools, that would stop this. Where are the professors, who stand next to their Jewish pupils?" And he showed no sympathy for those who argue that "Bring them home" posters with the hostages held by Hamas should not be attached in public spaces.

After the rally at Opernplatz the crowd marched to the Jewish synagogue in Frankfurt Westend. There, candles were lit next to posters showing the Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. The candles also symbolically marked the traditional start of Shabbat at Friday's sunset.

In recent weeks in Frankfurt several pro-Palestine rallies had been organised and supported by "left-wing" organisations. At most, if not all events, clear anti-semitic and pro-Hamas slogans where shouted and shown next to criticism of the Israeli state and army. The anti-Semitism obviously alarmed many citizens who used Friday's rally as their first opportunity to show their solidarity with the Jewish people.

That this was the first rally organised by the Römerbergbündnis alliance since 2015 shows the importance and broad support of this event.