HomeNewsBerlin holds unprecedented demonstration against Netanyahu's government

    Berlin holds unprecedented demonstration against Netanyahu’s government

    Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (left) and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a press conference in Berlin on March 16, 2023.

    When she heard that a rally was being organized to protest against Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to Berlin on Thursday, March 16, at the Brandenburg Gate, Bar Esh did not hesitate. “When the prime minister of your country threatens the very foundations of democracy, taking to the streets is the least you can do,” said the 28-year-old Israeli who has lived in Berlin since 2016. She held up a sign on which she had written in both German and Hebrew: “It is not anti-Semitic to fight for democracy for all.” She explained that she wrote the message “because Germans are always afraid of being seen as anti-Semitic if they engage in the slightest criticism of Israel. Because of their history, they don’t dare say anything.”

    In the midst of the 1,000 or so demonstrators gathered at the Brandenburg Gate on this sunny afternoon, Bar Esh did not have time to check whether German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had taken advantage of his press conference with Netanyahu to “clearly condemn the policies of his government ,” the most right-wing in Israel’s history. She asked how the meeting between the two men had gone, so The world summarized it for her.

    After arriving in Berlin the previous evening, the Israeli prime minister met with Scholz on Thursday morning at the Pier 17 memorial at the Grunewald train station, from where nearly 50,000 Jews left for death camps between 1941 and 1945. Netanyahu met with the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, who said he was “concerned that his government is dividing Israeli society and undermining confidence in Israel as a democracy.”

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    Scholz and Netanyahu then had lunch at the chancellery, before addressing the press at around 2:30 pm, almost an hour later than initially planned. The German chancellor himself addressed the subject that is causing a stir. “Prime Minister Netanyahu informed me of the reform of the justice system that his government wants to implement and that is causing great controversy, including in Israel. As a partner committed to democratic values ​​and a close friend of Israel, we are following this debate very closely and – I don’t want to hide it – with great concern,” he said.

    In front of reporters, the chancellor also advised Netanyahu to reconsider the draft compromise proposed by Israeli President Isaac Herzog to erase the most controversial points of the judicial reform of his government. “It is good that President Herzog has increased the number of consultations in order to preserve social peace in your country. […] As friends of Israel, we would like his plan not to be buried,” the chancellor pleaded. “What President [Herzog] proposes has not been accepted by the representatives of the ruling coalition,” said Netanyahu the day before he flew to Berlin.

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