Chancellor Angela Merkel led a rally against anti-Semitism in Berlin on Sunday.
Germany’s Jewish community organized the rally at the capital’s Brandenburg Gate after tensions over the Gaza conflict spilled over into demonstrations in Europe with anti-Jewish slogans.
President Joachim Gauck joined ministers and Germany’s top Protestant and Catholic clerics at the event along with Muslim community leaders.
Jewish leader Dieter Graumann said the summer saw “the worst anti-Semitic slogans on German streets for many, many decades.”
“We won’t let ourselves be intimidated,” he said. “But we would have liked a bit more empathy in the last few weeks. Many of us still come from Holocaust families … how do you think we feel when we hear on German streets today, `Jews to the gas?'”
Merkel said it is “verging on a miracle that well above 100,000 Jews live in Germany today,” seven decades after the Nazi Holocaust. After the end of World War II, only around 15,000 remained in Germany.
“It is a monstrous scandal that people in Germany today are being abused if they are somehow recognizable as Jews or if they stand up for the state of Israel,” she said. “I will not accept that and we will not accept that.”
The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, pointed to the danger from Islamic extremist and other anti-Semitic propaganda.
“Let us not allow this group of agitators to tear down 70 years of good work,” he said.