The Interior Administration of the German capital Berlin took last-minute action against a pro-Palestinian rally on Wednesday by banning the appearance of two antisemitic rappers at the event.
Rappers Shadi Al-Bourini and Shadi Al-Najjar had been due to appear at Wednesday’s rally at the city’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, which was attended by a few hundred demonstrators drawn almost exclusively from Berlin’s Muslim communities.
At the height of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza in 2014, the duo released a track titled, “Strike a Blow at Tel Aviv,” in which they rapped about destroying the city of Tel Aviv and “crushing Jews” in the process.
Martin Pallgen, a spokesperson for Berlin’s Interior Senate, said that the decision to ban the rappers was based on their “seditious” lyrics and their opposition to Israel’s right to exist.
Questioning the Jewish state’s legitimacy “crossed a red line,” Pallgen said on Wednesday. He confirmed that the rally was permitted, but under strict conditions — including a prohibition on the burning of Israeli flags or Jewish effigies and the presence of Arabic translators for the purpose of monitoring and removing antisemitic banners where necessary.
Leading politicians and Jewish leaders had earlier called for the “rally for solidarity with Palestine” to be cancelled in its entirety. The US and Israeli ambassadors in Germany — Richard Grenell and Jeremy Isaacharoff respectively — had also urged that the event be nixed.
“Just a few steps from the Brandenburg Gate stands the Holocaust Memorial,” said Berlin Senator Andreas Geisel of the left-wing SPD party on Tuesday, as he called for a ban on the rally. “This memorial will always be an admonition to us not to give an inch to the antisemites and Israel-haters in our city.”