Antisemites who hide behind anti-Zionism are guilty of hate speech, says Angela Merkel

By Toby Axelrod, March 14, 2016
Angela Merkel addresses the conference (Photo: David Burrowes/Twitter)

Angela Merkel addresses the conference (Photo: David Burrowes/Twitter)

Antisemitism masquerading as criticism of Israel must be recognised as pure hate speech, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told an international gathering of more than 100 parliamentarians.

Mrs Merkel said that anti-Israel demonstrators who call for the destruction of the Jewish state "as a pretext to giving vent to hatred of Jews abuse the fundamental rights in our country to freedom of association and expression".

In her address to the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) conference in Berlin, she also defended Josef Schuster - head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany - who she said was "harshly criticised" for expressing worries about antisemitism among refugees from war-torn Syria, Iraq and other Muslim countries. Germany has taken in around one million refugees in the past year.

She said it was "perfeclty legitimate for someone to share his concern about antisemitism. It may be that [some refugees] have grown up with certain stereotypes".

"It must be absolutely clear," whether to refugees or those born in Germany, "that antisemitism and other prejudices have no place in our society."

"The words 'never again' have to be followed by deeds," Mrs Merkel said.

Conference participants, who attended from over 40 countries, discussed internet hate, community relations and antisemitism in sport, as well as legal, parliamentary and governmental responses to antisemitism.

Model programmes for combatting antisemitism were presented.

The conference is taking place during Germany’s chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

British delegates included Justice Secretary Michael Gove and Labour Shadow Minister Luciana Berger.

Last updated: 2:59pm, March 14 2016