U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell criticized the city of Berlin on Friday for allowing a pro-Hamas conference. “We have raised our concerns over this. Hamas is a terrorist organization and should not be welcomed in Berlin,” the U.S. envoy said on Twitter.

The event, hosted on Saturday by the Palestinian Return Center (PRC) and the Palestinian Community of Germany (PGD), featured speakers linked to the Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas, a U.S.- and EU-designated terrorist organization. Both Palestinian organizations are being monitored by the German domestic intelligence agency for extremist activities, German newspaper Berliner Zeitung confirmed.

Ahead of the event, Israel’s Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff also urged the city of Berlin to cancel the event promoting the terrorist outfit Hamas. “It will not be a meeting to build bridges of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but a meeting to preserve intransigence and hostility,” Israeli envoy told German newspaper Bild on Friday. “I urge the authorities to prevent this event from happening.”

The city of Berlin, governed by a left-wing alliance, refused to ban the event, claiming Hamas activities were not banned in Germany, Bild newspaper reported.

Berlin-based Der Tagesspiegel newspaper reported ahead of the event:

Israel-haters are holding a conference in Berlin’s Moabit district with hundreds of participants. According to the domestic intelligence agency [BfV], the organizers have been linked to radical-Islamic Palestinian group Hamas, which is on the European Union’s terrorism list. (…)

Several organizations are calling for protests and demand the [Berlin state’s] Department of Interior to intervene. “Antisemitism and hatred of Israel must be curbed,” they said in an appeal.  [The appeal] has been signed by Amadeu Antonio foundation, International Institute for Education and Research on Antisemitism (IIBSA), American Jewish Committee Berlin, Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism (JFDA) and several politicians, as well as Sigmount Königsberg, the antisemitism commissioner for Berlin’s Jewish community. [Translated by the author]

“Sympathizers of Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas are gathering here, which pursues the aim of destroying Israel and has waged an armed war for years against Israeli families with rockets and attacks. It must not be allowed that terrorists are given a platform in the capital, and [allowed to] demonize and de-legitimize the state of Israel in Germany,” Uwe Becker, the director of the German-Israel Association (DIG), said in a statement.

The hosting of a pro-Hamas event in the nation’s capital also calls into question the German government’s commitment to combating surging antisemitism. “A day after Merkel’s visit to Auschwitz below, her government permits pro-Hamas event to take place in Berlin that calls for the mass murder of Jews in Israel,” Benjamin Weinthal, research fellow for the D.C.-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), wrote on Twitter.

With Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government refusing to ban activities of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, the country is becoming a base for Islamist propaganda, recruitment, and fundraising. “Hezbollah uses a center in Berlin as well as other locations across Germany to recruit members and raise funds for terrorism and weapons purchases,” Weinthal reported in the Jerusalem Post earlier this week, citing German intelligence reports. According to the 2019 annual report of the German domestic intelligence agency (BfV), around 1,050 Hezbollah and 300 Hamas members are freely operating in Germany. In Berlin alone, estimated 70 Hamas operatives are reportedly active.

The pro-Hamas event is taking place at a time when violent attacks against Germany’s Jewish minority are on sharp rise. In 2018, the number of violent antisemitic attacks against Jews rose by 155 percent in the city of Berlin, as compared to the 2017 figures, a study published by a leading German watchdog group showed. During the same period, Germany witnessed an overall ten percent surge in antisemitic hate crimes. According to local media reports, about 70 percent of German Jews have stopped wearing Jewish symbols in public to avoid violent attacks.

‘German Jews are Moving to Israel Due to Rising Antisemitism’

[Cover image via YouTube]

 
 
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