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Gaza Conflict Fallout Around the Globe
The Middle East violence that has seen hundreds of rockets fired back and forth between Gaza militants and the Israeli Defense Forces over the last week has sparked supporters of each side into action around the world. Here is a roundup of JTA coverage of some of protests and rallies from Los Angeles to Paris to Sydney, Australia:
LOS ANGELES — A federal officer fired his weapon in the direction of counter demonstrators at a rally in support of Israel held in Los Angeles.
Some 1,200 people attended the rally Sunday afternoon in front of the Federal Building in West Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department told the Los Angeles Jewish Journal.
During the rally, at least three men waving Palestinian flags and carrying wooden sticks arrived at the rally and allegedly hit some of the protesters, according to the Jewish Journal.
The men, who told the newspaper that they were Palestinians living in Anaheim, returned to their truck and drove off after the melee was broken up.
As they left, a Department of Homeland Security officer fired his gun in the direction of the truck, Brian Thomas of the LAPD West Los Angeles Patrol Division, told the Jewish Journal. The men reportedly were stopped and handcuffed, after they left the scene of the demonstration.
Speakers at the pro-Israel demonstration included Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Roz Rothstein co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs; Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer; and Israeli actress and activist Noa Tishby.
A counter demonstration of about 200 Palestinian supporters was held across the street from the pro-Israel demonstration.
Several streets in the area of the demonstration were blocked off into Sunday evening, according to CBSLA.
FRANKFURT, Germany — A demonstrator in Frankfort, Germany, used a police megaphone to shout anti-Israel slogans after duping police.
Police said the demonstrator had agreed to calm down a violent protest Saturday but instead shouted “Child murderer Israel” and “Allahu akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great” — a Frankfurt police spokeswoman told The Associated Press.
“We as police had come up spontaneously with this unusual method and he abused it — we didn’t expect that,” the spokeswoman, Virginie Wegner, told AP.
The crowd of more than 2,000 protesters, who were waving Palestinian flags and calling for a boycott of Israeli products, followed the police car while cheering and repeating the slogans, according to AP.
Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, condemned the incident.
“I’m shocked that a German police car was used to spread hatred and agitation,” Graumann said, according to AP. “It was a big mistake that the police let themselves be abused for this.”
CASABLANCA, Morocco — The rabbi of the Jewish community in Casablanca, Morocco, was beaten allegedly because of Israel’s Gaza operation.
Rabbi Moshe Ohayon was attacked Friday night as he walked to synagogue for Sabbath services, according to local and Israeli reports.
Ohayon suffered a broken nose and broken ribs, and was beaten on the head in the attack, according to the French language alyaexpress-news.com. The rabbi reportedly asked passers-by for help but was ignored.
The alleged attacker, a local Muslim man in his 20s, reportedly told the rabbi during the attack that it was in retribution for Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. The assailant is known to local police, according to the report, and officers were searching for him in order to arrest him.
Following the attack, Casablanca Jews called on local authorities to increase security around synagogues and other Jewish institutions.
BERLIN — Rocks were thrown at police in Berlin during a protest by some 1,000 demonstrators — most of them Palestinians — against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.
As many as 10 demonstrators were arrested for breach of the peace and trying to forcibly free others already arrested in Saturday’s protest, a police spokesman said. One police officer was struck by a rock but was not injured.
The march was unregistered; demonstrations in Berlin require a police permit.
The demonstrators, who the police spokesman said were aggressive and chanting, tried unsuccessfully to enter the “Fan Mile,” where tens of thousands of soccer fans have been gathering to watch World Cup games on big screens over the past few weeks. Pushed back by police, the protesters proceeded up one of Berlin’s main avenues near Potsdamer Platz.
Facing a major police response, the demonstrators — at that point led by someone who was trying to calm them, the spokesman said — gradually broke up.
By some estimates, Berlin is home to 35,000 Arabs of Palestinian origin.
On Friday, several hundred pro-Israel demonstrators gathered at Wittenberg Platz in Berlin under the banner “Fight Terror, Support Israel” organized by the Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin, a non-denominational NGO.
SYDNEY, Australia — A senior Jewish leader in Sydney who also holds a government post is under fire for an email on the Gaza conflict deemed “biased.”
The email sent last week by Vic Alhadeff, chief executive of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies and chair of the Community Relations Commission there, accused Hamas of “war crimes” but did not make reference to Palestinian deaths from Israel’s operation in Gaza to end rocket fire.
Mike Baird, the premier of New South Wales, called the email “inappropriate” for someone in a government-appointed position, according to Baird’s spokesman, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Saturday. Alhadeff’s email had provoked outrage from Arab leaders.
Titled “Israel Under Fire,” Alhadeff wrote that Hamas was guilty of “war crimes” while Israel “is operating with care to avoid civilian casualties.”
Israel had made it clear it would “do whatever is needed to defend its citizens,” he wrote. “All options are on the table.”
Joseph Wakim, a founder of the Australian Arabic Council, slammed Alhadeff’s email as “biased and provocative,” according to the Morning Herald.
“Do such statements build bridges and community relations, or wedge a wall between us and them?” Wakim asked.
The Baird spokesman also said, according to the newspaper, “Few people have done more to promote interfaith engagement and understanding between the Jewish and Muslim communities in New South Wales than Mr. Alhadeff."
Asked whether his Jewish and multicultural posts were mutually exclusive, Alhadeff told JTA, “Definitely not. We can agree to disagree on issues, but we live in Australia as Australians and should all be committed to our shared values … in a democratic multicultural society.”
Alhadeff added that “within minutes” of the news of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s murder last week, allegedly by Jewish extremists, he tweeted that it was “despicable.”
“The role of the CRC chair is to fight racism, promote multiculturalism and ensure community harmony,” Alhadeff told the Herald. “This is what I have done passionately and will continue to do.”
PARIS — Dozens of young men protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza briefly besieged a Paris synagogue and clashed with security.
At least three Jews were taken to the hospital as a result of the clashes that erupted Sunday between the protesters and young Jewish men who guarded the Don Isaac Abravanel Synagogue in Paris, a witness said.
“The attackers splintered off an anti-Israel demonstration and advanced toward the synagogue when it was full,” Alain Azria, a French Jewish journalist who covered the event said.
Azria said that when the demonstrators arrived at the central Paris synagogue, the five police officers on guard blocked the entrance as the protesters chanted anti-Semitic slogans and hurled objects at the synagogue and the guards. He said nearly 200 congregants were inside.
“They were determined to enter and the police did not have enough forces,” he said.
Azria said the mob was kept away by men from the SPCJ Jewish security unit, the Jewish Defense League and Beitar, who engaged the attackers in what turned into a street brawl.
“Thank God they were there because the protesters had murder on their minds and it took awhile before police reinforcements arrived,” he added.
The synagogue attack followed several anti-Semitic incidents that coincided with Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which began on July 8.
In one attack in Belleville north of the French capital, a firebomb was hurled at a synagogue, causing minor damage. In another attack, a man pepper-sprayed the face of a 17-year-old girl.