Before the start of a pro-Palestinian rally — one of the scores being staged almost daily here since Israel launched its offensive in Gaza — an organizer on a bullhorn yelled out the do’s and don’ts as ordered last week by the Berlin police.
No burning the Israeli flag. No shouts of “Death to Israel.” And absolutely no repeating the slogan “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone” — a rhyming chant in German that had become increasingly common at pro-Palestinian rallies here before being nipped in the bud by German authorities.
Some demonstrators may have said such things, conceded Leila El Abtah, a 29-year-old protester who is the daughter of a Palestinian father and a German mother. But, she insisted, even thoughtful criticism against Israel is being misinterpreted here as hate speech. “There are more of us speaking out about Israel now,” she said. “Because of what happened during Hitler’s day, it is making Germans nervous.”