European Nations Divided Over Israel-Hamas Conflict

On Sunday, thousands of people gathered in Berlin and London to rally against antisemitism and show support for Israel, while thousands more demonstrated in Paris and other cities to call for a ceasefire and aid for the beleaguered Gaza Strip. In front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, some protesters waved Israeli flags or displayed posters featuring images of some of the more than 200 persons kidnapped by Hamas on October 7. An estimated 20,000 people showed up for the rally, but police only counted 10,000, so President Frank-Walter Steinmeier addressed the audience, saying, “It is terrible that Jews are living in terror again today — in our nation of all places.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has been “outraged” by the rise in antisemitism since the conflict began, recently opened a new synagogue in the city of Dessau, located in the country’s east. Last week, two Molotov cocktails were thrown into a Berlin synagogue, and the star of David was spray-painted on the doors and walls of several buildings where Jews live. Scholz vowed that “our ‘never again’ must be unshakable” and noted that it was ironic that the statement was made in Germany.

Thousands of people gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square for a vigil, and they brought posters depicting hostages and the missing. They yelled, “Bring them home,” before becoming silent when the captives’ identities were announced. There were speeches made by representatives of the ruling Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party in the United Kingdom.

Michael Gove, secretary of state for communities, called Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7 an “unparalleled wickedness and brutality.” We need a unified front to defeat it. We must take a stand in defense of life. He emphasized the importance of rescuing the captives.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the UN building in Geneva, Switzerland, calling for the release of the hostages. Protesters waved Israeli, Swiss, and German flags and chanted “Children aren’t negotiating chips” and “#SetThemFree” on signs and T-shirts, respectively. About 4,500 pro-Palestinian activists marched in Lausanne, Switzerland, according to the police.

The war has heightened tensions around the world, making religious minorities like Jews and Muslims feel especially threatened. There was a 13-fold increase in reported antisemitic incidents in London’s Metropolitan Police Force in October compared to the same month in 2017.

Reports of acts of violence against Muslims have increased dramatically.