Europe rallies seek to isolate Israel internationally

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PARIS — The con­flict be­tween Is­rael and Ha­mas mil­i­tants in Gaza is spill­ing into the streets of doz­ens of cit­ies in Europe, as thou­sands of pro-Pal­es­tin­ian ac­tiv­ists have de­picted Is­rael as the ag­gres­sor and sought to iso­late it in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Thou­sands of dem­on­stra­tors gath­ered over the past sev­eral days in Paris, Ber­lin, Vi­enna, Am­ster­dam and other Euro­pean cit­ies in mostly peace­ful ex­pres­sions of sup­port for Pal­es­tin­ians in Gaza, where Is­rael has car­ried out a 14-day of­fen­sive aimed at stop­ping rocket fire and clos­ing tun­nels used to in­fil­trate fight­ers into Is­rael. In ad­di­tion to the large num­ber of Pal­es­tin­ian ca­su­al­ties, the con­flict has also re­sulted in the deaths of 20 Is­rae­lis, al­most all of them sol­diers.

Some of the demon­stra­tions took on a dis­tinctly anti-Se­mitic tinge, al­though the or­ga­niz­ers said they were de­signed solely to pro­test the Is­raeli in­cur­sion into Gaza that has left 500 Pal­es­tin­ians dead, many of them ci­vil­ians.

French Jew­ish lead­ers warned Mon­day against im­port­ing the Arab-Is­raeli con­flict to Europe af­ter a week­end in which a rad­i­cal fringe among pro-Pal­es­tin­ian dem­on­stra­tors in the French cap­i­tal clashed with po­lice, tar­get­ing Jew­ish shops, light­ing smoke bombs and throw­ing stones and bot­tles at riot po­lice. Eight syn­a­gogues in France have been tar­geted in the past week, Jew­ish groups said.

France, with some of Europe’s larg­est Muslim and Jew­ish pop­u­la­tions, has be­come a flash point for an­ger against Is­rael, and Jew­ish com­mu­nity lead­ers say they fear that crit­i­cism of Is­raeli pol­icy is be­ing seized upon by some to pro­mote anti-Sem­i­tism.

Over the week­end, au­thor­i­ties banned pro­tests in se­lected ar­eas of Paris, cit­ing se­cu­rity con­cerns. Sev­eral re­cent pro-Pal­es­tin­ian demon­stra­tions in Paris have boiled over into vi­o­lence, and ear­lier this month sev­eral hun­dred pro­test­ers sought to storm two syn­a­gogues in the French cap­i­tal dur­ing an anti-Is­rael demon­stra­tion in which pro­test­ers chanted, “Death to Jews!” and “Hitler was right,” ac­cord­ing to Serge Cwa­jgen­baum, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Euro­pean Jew­ish Con­gress, a Brus­sels-based or­ga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sent­ing Euro­pean Jewry.

In the north­ern Paris sub­urb of Sar­celles, dubbed “lit­tle Jeru­sa­lem” be­cause of its large Jew­ish com­mu­nity, a peace­ful demon­stra­tion Sun­day turned vi­o­lent when clutches of youths lit smoke bombs and fire­crack­ers, Agence France-Presse re­ported. The Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil of French Jew­ish In­sti­tu­tions said the pro­test­ers tar­geted Jew­ish shops, in­clud­ing a ko­sher gro­cery store and a phar­macy.

The pro­tests come amid grow­ing con­cerns about ris­ing anti-Sem­i­tism in much of Western Europe, but par­tic­u­larly in France, fanned by the strong per­for­mance of the far-right Na­tional Front party and a per­ceived rise in anti-Se­mitic vi­o­lence. In June, a French-born man was ac­cused of gun­ning down four peo­ple at the Jew­ish Mu­seum in Brus­sels in an anti-Se­mitic at­tack.

israel - Middle East - Europe - France - Western Europe - France government - Palestinian territories - Paris - Germany - Gaza Strip - Manuel Valls


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