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Protest at Berlin’s university campus following anti-Semitic attack

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A silent protest with some 100 participants organized by the Fridays for Israel group at the Free University of Berlin on Friday highlighted the fears of Jewish students.

Green Party chairwoman Ricarda Lang, former Green Party politician Volker Beck and CDU politician Ottilie Klein attended the protest.

The protest was in response to a 30-year-old Jewish Free University student, Lahav Shapira, being hospitalized after being physically assaulted on the weekend.

A 23-year-old pro-Palestinian German fellow student is alleged to have punched and kicked him in the city’s central Berlin-Mitte district.

The Berlin public prosecutor’s office is investigating allegations and said the attack is currently being classified as anti-Semitic and triggered by the Gaza war.

Speaking on the sidelines of the protest, Lang said that it was “a signal against looking the other way.” It was important to take consistent and lasting action against all forms of anti-Semitism, she said.

Beck, who is President of the German-Israeli Society, also called on politicians to take action. For example, it must become legally possible to take perpetrators of violence off the university register if necessary, he suggested.

The Fridays for Israel group has been highlighting Jewish students’ concerns for weeks, spokeswoman Clara von Nathusius told dpa.

The management of Freie Universität had “missed a lot of things,” von Nathusius said. Only since the recent attack on Shapira had there “really been a change in the university management’s tone.”

Free University President Günter Ziegler told broadcaster RBB’s radioeins radio on Friday that it was not easy to get a grip on the current conflict at the university.

Hate, harassment and violence are unacceptable, do not fit in at the university and “of course not on campus either”, Ziegler said in the interview.

“With all the measures we have in place, we must primarily focus on safety on campus,” he continued.

Ricarda Lang (L), Federal Chairwoman of Alliance 90/The Greens, and Volker Beck (C), former member of the German Bundestag, take part in a silent protest organized by an initiative for the safety of Jewish students at Freie University Berlin. A Jewish student was hospitalized with broken bones in his face after a pro-Palestinian fellow student allegedly punched and kicked him in Berlin-Mitte. Christoph Soeder/dpa

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