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Support Pakistani Workers fighting Climate Change and Crisis

Call for Solidarity from the Haqooq-e-Khalq Party in Pakistan


Introduction by Ali Khan:

The Haqooq-e-Khalq (rights of creation) party is a growing political movement in the heart of Pakistan’s political and economic hub of Punjab. Their general secretary, the historian Ammar Ali Jan, is a council member of The Progressive International alongside people as Jeremy Corbyn and Colombia’s first leftist president Gustavo Petro. The party operates in a challenging political environment, facing repression from the state and the threat of arrest, abduction, even assassination. 

As part of the work of building a political movement in Pakistan’s fragile democracy, the party is involved in initiatives such as education and medical camps for the poorest Pakistanis, flood and general poverty relief efforts, advocacy against water pollution among others.

Now, the party has launched a campaign to finance a legal advocacy fund for workers facing economic headwinds in the aftermath of the flooding and a global economic slowdown. They are appealing for donations, big and small, and publicity for their efforts to give workers dignity. As a Pakistani emigre, I ask readers of theleftberlin to read their appeal, republished below, and consider donating to it if possible. In addition, I ask to share this appeal with friends, family and acquaintances to whom defense of worker rights is near and dear. 

If successful in its mission, the funds will help transform the legal advocacy operation of Haqooq-e-Khalq by shifting from a voluntary, pro bono project to a more regular and organised centre for worker defense. This can give financial security for dedicated lawyers who wish to more extensively represent workers lacking funds to defend themselves in court, in short those who are most vulnerable to abuse by employers. 

Call for Solidarity

To Whom it May Concern:

Pakistan has been devastated by the convergence of multiple crises: climate disaster, food shortages and inflation as high as 40 percent. The corporate sector, which draws privileges worth $3 billion annually from the state, is shifting the burden of the growing crisis onto the working class through mass layoffs and closure of factories without compensation for workers. In recent weeks, Pakistan’s textile industry has fired thousands of workers without paying their full dues, pushing millions deeper into poverty.

With 40 percent children already malnourished, and accelerating food and fuel inflation, the consequences of mass unemployment will be catastrophic. Moreover, a 2019 Human Rights Watch report details the dangerous environment in which textile workers perform their labor, with weak environmental, health and safety standards that not only damage the workers’ health but also cause immense pollution in working class neighborhoods. Preliminary findings from an in-progress study by the Haqooq e Khalq Party (HKP) reveals that lead content in water supply of key industrial areas exceeds permissible limits by an unfathomable 1000%.

The primary reason workers are unable to effectively push back against this attack on their incomes and health is that less than one percent of the country’s workforce is unionized. Moreover, there is no legal aid center that can fight for workers, who are often denied months of salaries due to lack of legal representation. The real cost of cheap garments from Pakistan is being borne by workers in the form of wage theft, unemployment, police brutality and health problems.

For the past few years, HKP has been leading the fight against labor exploitation. We have organized numerous labor protests for minimum wages and better working conditions. Lastly, considering the close relationship between labor and environmental exploitation, we have been holding sessions with workers on the health and environmental hazards they face and supporting them in their fight against pollution, unsafe working conditions, and other effects of voracious production.

One of the key sites for the implementation of labor laws are the labor courts in Pakistan where lawyers from our party regularly represent textile workers. Despite some important victories for workers’ rights, our work remains limited due to financial constraints. Consequently, HKP has decided to set up a workers’ legal aid center fully dedicated to providing pro bono services to factory workers. Our primary objectives are as follows:

  1. Reinstatement of illegally fired workers

  2. Implementation of labor laws

  3. Formation of trade unions

  4. Implementation of environmental, health and safety regulations

Textile workers from Pakistan not only produce foreign exchange for the Pakistani state through exports, but also fuel the global fast fashion industry that reaps billions of dollars in profits annually. Today, these workers face dire conditions because the system refuses to meet basic labor and environmental rights. We request sympathizers across the world to help raise funds to set up a permanent legal team to aid workers. We aim to raise an initial fund of $30,000 to build a robust infrastructure that can support working class struggles across the country.

Economic, climate and social justice all converge on the question of workers’ rights. We hope you will aid us in affirming the dignity of life amid corporate greed and abandonment from an apathetic state.


Dr. Ammar Ali Jan

Haqooq-e-Khalq Party- General Secretary

Links for more information

Promiscuous Profit, Fickle Allyship, and the Qatar World Cup

Elite nations wipe crocodile tears for LGBTQ+ people with the blood money their capitalist class makes in alliance with the Qatari autocracy


The Roman emperor Vespasian came into the Purple after the fall of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, presiding over a much-depleted treasury. One of his policies was to implement a tax on purchasing urine – a raw material for tanning and textile industries. His son Titus protested this decision, claiming it was a dirty way to rebuild the state finances. Reputedly, Vespasian took a coin, asked his son if it smelled. When he said no, Vespasian replied that it was odourless despite being earned through urine. Hence the saying “pecunia non olet” or “money does not stink”. Fittingly, a public street urinal is called a vespasienne in French.

Vespasian’s notion of odourless money unites the ruling class from Doha to Delaware. But in the 21st Century, the stench of death emanating from Qatar is inescapable. This creates a problem of legitimacy for the ruling class. It simply cannot pretend there is no problem, they tried that briefly and failed. When a venal figure like Sepp Blatter starts saying awarding Qatar the rights of hosting was a mistake, you had best put on the stern visage of an angry headmaster.

Their solution is to stage a convincing Kabuki theatre to show moral outrage to soothe self-righteous aspersions without drawing attention to underlying economic relations. The basic economic relations underpinning Qatar prevail in the elite nations, in many ways much more gruesomely than in Qatar itself.

The sacrifices and agitation of women and LGBTQ+ people in the late 20th Century achieved limited social gains in the elite nations. It became convenient to use identity based political demands to differentiate and not class-based politics. Today, the well of advancing social rights for minorities has run dry. This doesn’t stop a façade being erected to prosecute an Islamophobia-laced campaign of performative condemnation of the Qatar World Cup.

“One love” has become the rallying slogan against the repression of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar. Welsh fans are barred from entering venues wearing shirts with a rainbow flag, Harry Kane is threatened with being yellow-carded if he wears an armband with the slogan. Newscasters perform defiance by wearing the slogan as they broadcast back home to a sympathetic audience. When the pressure gets a bit severe, many wilt revealing the fickleness of their allyship.

Amidst the concerted effort by white people and their minority class-compatriots, the real victims of Qatar become side-lined or outright erased from the picture. There is only one reasonable line of attack against the Qatari state, only one argument that does not kick up the stench of hypocrisy or generalizability. That focuses on the particularly acute abuse of migrant workers on whose backs the World Cup is being prosecuted and profited through.

To centre criticisms of Qatar’s religious and social conservatism in relation to women and LGBTQ+ people centres Western sensibilities over the advocacy needs of this repressed, subaltern class that is the fodder fuelling this vain corporate bonanza. Defenders of the World Cup, not least the FIFA President Gianni Infantino (who made some appeals to identity based “knowing what it’s like” arguments), claim that elite nations are driven by a bigoted, Islamophobic dislike of Qatar – they are not wholly incorrect. Furthermore, those claims counter arguments about exploitation, by saying that the same nations also built their wealth on theft and murder. These moral arguments are put to service for horrible ends.

The truth is that the same pro-migration but anti-immigrant policies that Qatar uses to enable the World Cup are policies that elite nations want to implement but face too much domestic opposition to get away with. The nascent fascism of Europe and the USA, the virtual hegemony of anti-immigration across the nominal political divide are evidence of this.

Infantino himself remarked on the deaths of refugees at sea trying to get into Europe (an estimated 3000) to rebut attacks on Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers, who by and large come to work in the Gulf States using legal means.  Corporations like Budweiser and Brew Dog, and mascots – such as David Beckham – get paid to sportwash the Qatari regime. They participate in the promiscuous polycule of capitalism. They are home grown products of elite nations being sold abroad in this fictive pariah state. Qatar is selling liquified natural gas to Europe to smooth over the supply shock set off by the invasion of Ukraine. Focusing on this set of economic relations – merely a vulgarised reflection of the elite nations’ own realities – only gives its own crisis of legitimacy.

That is why the LGBTQ+ community becomes red meat for the illegitimate stratum of rulers in these nations. Rather than risking any admissions of guilt in the past or the present, sexual minorities become the convenient wedge. They present the only viable instrument of performative protest that can be kept sufficiently isolated from these politico-economic co-dependencies East and West. Eliding this corpulent carapace of capitalist hyper-exploitation becomes the singular task.

But in so doing, sexual minorities become targets for repression in Qatar, and the Arab world in general, since this performative advocacy inspires a counter-reaction. This half-hearted attempt at advocacy is quickly abandoned whenever any material sacrifice is demanded as a solidaristic wage of allyship. Both migrant workers and sexual minorities experience a further oppression in the process, the former by erasure and the latter by performative instrumentalization.

Who benefits? The capitalist class of the world and their lackeys in charge of state governance; from Tokyo to Washington, from Canberra to London.

No progress will be made until the unity of the villains and the protagonists in this media confected theatre play is confronted. Unfortunately, there are no longer any serious organs of information dispersal serving the needs of the working class, or any minority group for that matter. The media commons are enclosed by an oligarchic billionaire class. The free press is mostly engaging in stenography for elites, taking their cues from PR agencies, corporate sponsored think tanks, or governments themselves. This includes the most liberal, fictively “left” institutions like the New York Times or The Guardian. And so, I offer this entreaty as a meagre tribute in defiance.

I ask that the reader reconsider the focus of their own angst, shifting it away from the close to heart commitment to LGBTQ+ people and towards the very particular wrongs of this World Cup. That of the inhumane degradation of immigrants from poor nations, nations whose poverty they themselves are complicit in enjoying, and the unity of their ruling class (despite pretensions to the contrary) with that of Qatar. That ought to be the fulcrum of discontent.

Umverteilen! Redistribute! – Demo impressions

Photographs from the November Umverteilen demo against high prices and low wages.


On November 12th, Berliners demonstrated for higher wages and lower prices. Around 7,000 people joined, according to the taz, along with organizations like Deutsche Wohnen und Co. Enteignen, Bizim Kiez, and Klimaneustart. Although the weather was sunny and the atmosphere friendly, the demands stemmed from acute issues facing many in the city. Among them were price caps for electricity, heating costs, and rent, windfall taxes on excess profits, socialization of real estate and energy companies, taxation on the rich, and free public transport.

Although no concrete changes came from the protest, it should be seen as a positive sign for Left movements in Berlin. Taz author Erik Peter wrote, “the number (of protestors) alone is a sign of life for the scene, but more important is the formulation, even rediscovery of what actually should be obvious: There is a connection between almost all emancipatory struggles, which are all too often fought for in isolation.”








Israeli scholar cancelled by German teaching union – this cannot continue

Protest letter to chairs of the GEW education union

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Fanny-Michaela Reisin.

I am addressing you who hold prominent positions in the “Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft” (GEW – trade Union for Learning and Science“, the school and university teachers’ union in Germany), an association with whom I, as professor emeritus and as former president of the International League for Human Rights, have collaborated on a number of events and other cooperations over several decades, and with whom I have enjoyed a positive working relationship which remains to the present day.

The reason for my letter is a press release on the website of the Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost e. V. – European Jews for a Just Peace Germany” (JS), which, I only read yesterday and which I found shocking and deeply troubling. I am a practicing Jew and a committed JS-member.

It concerns the cancellation of a lecture by our association member, Dr. Shir Hever by the GEW-Kreisverband-Rhein-Neckar-Heidelberg. As I have come to understand, Dr. Hever was invited by the GEW to participate in an online event on October 27th this year, where he was supposed to give a lecture on the topic of “Child Labor in Palestine”, then discuss it with the participants.

The event was cancelled by the GEW district association at short notice. There was no discussion with Dr. Hever explaining the reasoning behind the decision.

The fact that a regional chapter of the GEW, the “education union in the DGB” [German Trade Union Federation], which prides itself on being a “militant agent for law and democracy” – would cancel such an informative event with an invited guest speaker is in and of itself “odd”, to say the least. The justification given – without any evidence – that Dr. Hever is an anti-Semite is utterly preposterous and would fail to stand up to any form of scrutiny. This action is slanderous and – I know Dr. Hever personally (!) – is tantamount to character assassination.

As a scientist and author, Dr. Hever is widely acclaimed not only in his home country, Israel, but also internationally – and in particular in German and English-speaking countries. A frequently-invited speaker for lectures worldwide, Dr. Hever is highly regarded for his unassailable integrity and his personal warmth. Last but not least, he is also held in high esteem as a resourceful political activist.

It is still difficult for me to comprehend how the GEW could be involved in this third party ban on a planned informational event concerning Palestine, and subject the event to blanket censorship without questioning its content. This has applied a “GEW muzzle” to our member Shir Hever.

How can it be possible that the right to freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany could be superceded by a political practice which the GEW itself has been known to stand up to and effectively protest against? What on earth has happened? Do the Constitution and the rights to freedom of expression and of assembly not matter at all any more for the teachers union’? These are also in the interest of its own members and must be vigorously fought for.

In addition to all of this, having to read that Dr. Hever was offered the agreed payment for his lecture provided that he remained silent – in my eyes a malicious and deeply dishonest attempt at extortion – is at once both frightening and horrifying. All the more so, as the discrepancies described above come at the expense of children and minors, whose miserable situation in the territories of Palestine, which have been under military occupation now for 55 years. They desperately need the attention of people abroad. At the same time, for school children of Palestinian descent living here in Germany, increased interest in and knowledge of the history of their place of origin and the situation for family members both in Palestine and here, would be most beneficial.

I could glean from the press release published by the “Jewish Voice” that the initiative to cancel this lecture came from Dr. Blume, the anti-Semitism commissioner for the state government in Baden-Württemberg. This office was institutionalized by the Interior Ministers of all federal states under the leadership of the former Federal Minister of the interior, Horst Seehofer in 2018, after the official working definition of anti-Semitism EU-wide had been extended to be also understood as “anti-Semitism related to Israel”. This nationwide institutionalized anti-Semitism commissioners network de facto provides the Israeli government a say in decisions regarding what criticism can be allowed in Germany, for example concerning prevailing conditions and practices which are allowed in Israel. Such criticism can be prevented and simply branded “anti-Semitic”.

Along with other colleagues, Dr. Blume has been making a name for himself nationwide as an unwavering motor for bans on events, lectures and even professions. He has particularly focussed on those representing solidarity with Palestine, as they are naturally critical of the constitutional predispositions and the policies of Israeli governments. On this basis alone, these appointed commissioners suspect individuals – and, yes, even organizations – as being anti-Semitic. Those, which have accused Israel of being an apartheid state have been systematically discredited. Organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Israeli NGO B’Tselem and others have been treated in this manner.

Lecturers, scientists and artists have been “hunted”  as soon as they pledge their support to the international BDS movement – particularly if they are employed or receive some finance from state institutions. 

“BDS” (“Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions”) stands for the political orientation of the non-violent movement – which, by the way, has long been legitimized at the EU level – that mobilizes a civil society counterweight worldwide to Israel’s ongoing military occupation and settlement of Palestinian territories in violation of international law. Our JS member Shir ever is feeling the effects of this attack on BDS through the muzzle placed on him by GEW.

It is, however, comforting in this depressing socio-political situation that Dr. Blume and his colleagues have continually had to answer for their ambition to silence Palestine solidarity in Germany before the German courts. In most cases, Dr. Blume in particular has been advised that his accusations and attacks have no legal basis.

The aggressive attacks, which Dr. Blume and his colleagues are engaged in under the auspices of their offices is bad enough. The fact that they have succeeded in banning this publicly announced event in the name of the GEW disturbs and outrages me even more.

On what basis could this have happened?

The anti-Semitism commissioner, Dr. Blume, likes to use the BDS Resolution of the German Bundestag (No. 19/10191) which was passed by a majority (a nonetheless unfortunate decision) to justify his activities. This resolution is not legally binding but rather an expression of the opinion of the representatives in the Bundestag who voted for it.

It should have been the position of the GEW, which prides itself in pursuing the goal of “emancipation” in its education policy and in supporting argumentative democracy, not to simply submit to the enactment of such encroachments upon constitutionally guaranteed civil rights and freedoms but rather to loudly and clearly denounce and counteract them, if only in the interest and protection of its own members.

The following excerpt from the report of the Scientific Service of the German Bundestag suggests that the responsible persons in the Heidelberg GEW District Association Rhine-Neckar, neither knew what “BDS” was about nor were really familiar with the Bundestag resolution against it:

“In the opinion of the Munich Administrative Court, the finding that a person or group violates the free democratic basic order by making anti-Semitic statements is not in itself sufficient to prohibit corresponding expressions of opinion from the outset on the part of the authorities, even in the context of political information or events featuring discussion, or to base an exclusion of use. A violation of legal interests or a situation of danger through expressions of opinion is only to be assumed if they “endanger public peace as the peacefulness of public debate and thus mark the transition to aggression or breach of law”. (cf. VGH Munich, judgment of 17.11.2020, 4 B 19.1358, para. 58 f.) 

Moreover, in the cases decided by case law to date, the municipalities have not been able to demonstrate a violation of the free democratic basic order of persons and groups close to BDS, especially since the BDS movement has neither its own legal personality nor a solidified, legal organizational structure (cf. VerfGH NRW, decision of 22.09.2020, 49/19.VB-2, para. 19; VGH München (fn. 18), para. 55; VG Köln, decision of 12.09.2019, 14 L 1765/19, para. 15. ), from which a sufficient threat to public order could emanate.”

With reference to what is quoted above as well as further excerpts from this opinion, but above all because the cancellation of the aforementioned lecture event and the resulting prohibition of speech and last but not least the slander cast upon our member, Shir Hever, and by association the slander of our entire organisation indirectly through the regional GEW Rhein-Neckar-Heidelberg is utterly unacceptable, I will be recommending to the Executive Board of the JS to review:

1) Whether this matter should not be legally prosecuted by the JS – if necessary through the person of Shir Hever -, since the slander, claiming that the contents were anti-Semitic without Dr. Blume first examining them. This means that the lecture event was prevented in ignorance of the existing legal grounds.

2) Whether trade unions in other European countries, which are known to us as being in solidarity with Palestine and in part as supporters of the BDS movement, should not be informed of the ban on the event, which was carried out in the name of the German teachers’ union, and called upon to show solidarity with Shir Hever and the JS.

3) Whether the associations and NGOs in Europe, Israel, Palestine, USA and South Africa, which are friendly towards us, should not be informed about this scandalous practice of the teachers’ union in the Federal Republic of Germany.

4) Whether it would not be appropriate to inform the children’s organizations of the UNO about this matter. In support of this I would like to add two links to children’s organizations of the UN, which on my search query “Children in occupied Palestine” belong to the first of 47.5 Mill.(!) entries, which popped up within 0.5 seconds:

Ultimately, the GEW regional association’s handling of the planned online event, “Child Labor in Palestine,” makes it obvious how arbitrary the interest can be concerning the virulent state of emergency confronting children in militarily occupied Palestine. Especially since the attempt to rectify these issues through education has been rejected in such a shabby manner.

All things considered you will understand that it is impossible for me to exercise leniency with those in the GEW Rhein-Neckar-Heidelberg district association who were successfully able to obtain a ban on this event and thus create the scandal of a “GEW muzzle”.

I fully expect – particularly in light of my decades long relationship with the GEW – an official apology to Dr. Hever and a credible corrective to the handling of the planned and announced lecture.

With best regards

Sincerely Yours

Prof. em. Dr. Fanny-Michaela Reisin, Berlin, 9th November 2022

English translation by Sidney Corbett. Reproduced with permission

Why and How we are Challenging the Bundestag Resolution on BDS

Interview with Christoph Glanz (Bundestag 3 for Palestine)


Hi Christoph, thanks for speaking to us. Could you start by introducing yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

I’m an antifascist and leftist from Oldenburg. My love story with Palestine began 30 years ago. I was raised as a liberal Zionist. Today I’m a campaigner for the BDS campaign for Palestinian human rights, and co-initiator and activist plaintiff of the BT3P – an initiative that we started two years ago.

For people who haven’t heard of the BT3P, can you briefly explain why you set it up and what you’ve been doing since then?

BT3P stands for the “Bundestag 3 for Palestine”, and consists of Amir Ali from Palestine Speaks, Judith Bernstein from Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue group, and me – as the spokesperson of the BDS Initiative Oldenburg. While we are the plaintiffs, we also like to consider ourselves to be parts of a network of Palestinian, Jewish, German, (ex-)Israeli allies with roots in all kinds of intersectional struggles. BT3P is open to anyone to whom human rights and democratic freedoms truly matter and who stands up for Palestinian rights. But let’s get back to the incident that triggered it all:

In May 2019, the German parliament Bundestag infamously passed a resolution called “Der BDS Bewegung geschlossen entgegentreten [“Resisting the BDS Movement with Determination”]. We consider this resolution both racist and undemocratic. Its main content slanders the Palestinian human rights campaign as antisemitic and calls on all state and municipality entities in Germany to deny us public space and funding of any kind.

Even before the resolution was passed, there was quite a commotion, politically speaking. More than 240 Jewish and Israeli intellectuals called on the Bundestag not to pass this travesty of a pseudo-law. But they did so anyway.

What we need to understand is that the Bundestag resolution is both the result of a Zionist hegemonial mindset and of anti-Palestinian racism in Germany and simultaneously an amplifier of these hateful ideologies. Our lawyer, Ahmed Abed, who is based in Berlin-Neukölln, had a crucial role in bringing us together. We all understood that the time had come to take the “Staatsräson” bull by the horns.

The Bundestag resolution on BDS is not a proper law. Is that of any importance?

There was an excellent article in der Spiegel quite a while ago, demonstrating how lobby organisations targeted parliamentarians individually and as groups to get this resolution passed.

The fact that “only” a seemingly innocent resolution was passed (instead of a proper law banning BDS) is not the result of sloppiness, but – in a Machiavellian sense – was well-crafted and strategically planned. According to a public statement issued by the scientific service of the Bundestag itself (Wissenschaftlicher Dienst) this resolution would be unconstitutional if it were a proper law.

The soft status of a resolution was chosen for two reasons: In a society with strong authoritarian roots and presence such as Germany, it amounts to a public character assassination when the Parliament condemns the movement you’re in. I’ve heard the phrase, “But even the Bundestag says that BDS is antisemitic,” more than once. Case closed. It doesn´t matter anymore how absurd its reasoning is, the state has spoken so you´d better obey. And secondly, they knew that a resolution would be more difficult to attack in the courts.

More difficult but not impossible?

Not only not impossible, but the opposite: very promising! We want to win this case and are cautiously optimistic about the ultimate outcome. Here is why: We can demonstrate in dozens of cases that the resolution was handled by municipalities and politicians as if it were a law, and one with disastrous effects on activists, international artists, journalists. I’m sure that many readers could quote more than one example themselves. Our statement of claim demonstrates this in depth, and also how in this resolution the state is turned (once again) into a semi-god dictating its will. That’s verfassungswidrig, unconstitutional.

What we perhaps consider even more powerful as legal argument is that international law is on our side: Five UN special rapporteurs have expressed their dismay over the Bundestag resolution, stating that it unduly interferes with the right of the people of Germany to engage in political speech, namely, to express support for the BDS movement. French friends of ours were taken to court for alleged hate-speech after handing out BDS leaflets in front of an Elsassian supermarket- and they ultimately won their case against the Republic of France! (European Court of Human Rights, Baldassi and Others vs. France, 2020).

Likewise, our own statement of claim has legal expertise attached to it, which underlines the fact how well-founded in international law our case is. This expertise was penned by four legal scholars, among them Professor Richard Falk, former UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967!

The defence of the Bundestag, in contrast, is mere legalese trickery with no substance to it whatsoever. Let´s see who will win.

Why is fighting the Bundestag resolution still of relevance today?

Following a whole series of legal wins on local levels, the Zionists have turned a little quiet over the Bundestag resolution recently, but it’s still forming the opinion of decision makers on all kinds of levels. Some people might argue, “So what? You´re winning in the courts, so everything is fine and dandy, no?” It´s not. We cannot tolerate a situation in which we as human rights activists need to fight a legal battle for every single event we want to hold while politicians can throw racist slurs at Palestinians at pro-Israeli rallies while Gazans are bombed to smithereens.

Do you think this is specific to Germany Or are there links to be made with similar attacks on Palestinian and their supporters in other countries?

Research by the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz shows that the Israeli state gave $1.1 million to international law firm Sidley Austin with the objective of smearing BDS activists in public.

These anti-BDS resolutions are obviously efforts to counter our movement in a situation where we have the facts, the popular opinion and the political compass, while Israel has the guns and tanks, and is supported by most governments all over the world. This is not only true for Germany, although many consider Germany to be one of the fiercest battlegrounds.

Let’s look briefly at three European countries: Austria passed an anti-BDS resolution in 2020 following in the steps of the Bundestag. Two other examples are France and Britain: France, as far as I know, does not have a specific anti-BDS law, but they are applying existing laws to target BDS activists – in vain as we have seen above. In Britain, there have repeatedly announcements been published by government politicians saying that they are going to pass an anti BDS law soon. They are aiming for a proper law.

It’s not a perfect picture, but in a way, we are in between the French case and the possible future British law. We know that both lawmakers and Zionist spin doctors are eagerly watching our case to see what’s happening. Given the dominant role that Germany unfortunately has in the EU, it is even worth considering that the fact that not more countries have followed Big Brother yet might be a result of our legal intervention. If we manage to bring down this law in Germany, then the likelihood of other such laws and resolutions being successfully targeted under international law is very high.

In Germany, we’ve now had just over a year of a so-called Traffic Light Coalition. A couple of government ministers have – privately at least – said they support Palestinian rights. Has the new government made any changes which affect the BDS law?

Please do introduce me to government ministers who support Palestinian rights! I haven’t heard from any of them! Coming back to your question:

The new government has not yet spoken explicitly about this case or the BDS movement in public.

Angela Merkel once famously spoke to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, about German commitment to the safety of the state of Israel and referenced to that as “Deutsche Staatsräson“. Even before that, it is clear that the main aim is to shield the state of Israel from any form of criticism, let alone follow up with sanctions.

From the far right AfD to the supposedly left DIE LINKE, the German party leaders firmly stand with the Staatsräson. So, no- there was no change for the better and we didn’t expect any.

This includes harsh criticism of DIE LINKE. Can you back that up?

For obvious reasons, we are targeting the one resolution that got passed with the votes of CDU/CSU, SPD, Greens, FDP. But initially there were three drafts presented in the Bundestag. The first by the AfD was proposing a proper legal ban of BDS. The majority could not agree to that for two reasons: a) because they don´t want to be associated with the AfD too obviously, b) because they knew that such a law could be sacked easily. The third draft was issued by DIE LINKE. The mildest statement you can make about it is that it’s extremly contradictatory. It refers to the UN resolutions as a solid base for a peaceful solution in Palestine/Israel, and then goes on to reject the BDS movement, which is based in its entirety on those very UN resolutions!

Not one lawmaker in the entire Bundestag, including DIE LINKE, stood up to defend Palestinian human rights and BDS. The very title of the Linke´s draft was “Rejecting the BDS movement” and in its text they double down on the lie that BDS was per se targeting “Israeli citizens of Jewish faith”, i.e., acting antisemitic. In this sense and regarding that topic, DIE LINKE was and is part of the wall-to-wall Parliamentary consensus that Palestinians may not strive for the human rights they are entitled to without being smeared antisemitic and excluded from the public.

We know who our comrades inside the party are, but we and they must face the fact that none of their efforts has been successful. No matter how delusional, the party leaderships is striving for coalition capability. And they know that this cannot be achieved without endorsing the Staatsräson regarding Israel.

How is the BT3Pcampaign going now? Are you winning?

We lost the first court session public hearing at the administrative court. We are not too worried about this. Why? We, and I as an individual, have charged municipalities and others on several occasions for breaching basic democratic rights. And in 95% of the cases, we lost at the first stage as these administrative courts usually go with the administration and whatever they decide.

This is in contrast to the higher appeal courts which do grant importance to basic democratic rights. We usually win in this second stage of the public hearings.

In our humble opinion, this is a very strong case with concrete examples based on German and international law, supported by some of the highest authorities in the field. The next hearing has been announced by the Higher Administrative Court Berlin-Brandenburg for spring/summer 2023. Please join us if you can!

I’ve recently been covering the case of sacked Palestinian journalist Farah Maraqa who recently won on all counts. Could it be that the German legal system is currently more progressive on Palestine than German politics?

This is an interesting question. In many regards, I would say yes. I think that the legal system, generally speaking, feels still bound to democratic freedoms, which are no longer defended by the political elites and leading politicians and parties.

I see the whole thing that we are doing, as embedded into the general struggle for securing whatever democratic rights we have had in the State. In many ways, it’s about defending or even enlarging our power.

On Palestine, once the state is in a position where it can more easily target leftist and internationalist activists, it will do so even worse than it’s doing now. That’s one of the aspects why the BDS struggle is important, because if we let them get away with this, they will build on this, and target activists -be it for the Kurdish cause or against the ecocide- in an even more destructive way. We need to understand that our struggles are connected.

You’re now trying to organise a “Parlamentsseminar” in the Bundestag. What do you hope to achieve and how likely are you of succeeding?

The basic menu of such seminars includes being shown around in the Bundestag, having an introduction explaining the mechanisms of how for example, laws are made. And then the group of participants meet with members of every fraction of the Bundestag to discuss a political issue by their own choice.

We are group of about 50 activists, scientists, students, artists including our friends from Palestine Speaks and Jewish Voice- applied for the seminar under the title “The present position of the Bundestag fractions and the Federal Government on the BDS movement”. In the application attached we are not mincing words.

We want to challenge them: we want to sit face to face to them and find out for example, if this resolution still has still any legal meaning? Do they still support it? How do they justify to trample on Palestinian human rights?

We have an opinion poll running on our twitter account posing the question whether the Bundestag will accept or decline our application. The “Nay” fraction is ahead with 96%… do we share this assessment?

We are creating a lose-lose situation for the Bundestag politicians and a win-win situation for the movement: If they let us have the meeting, they will contradict their own resolution and we will speak truth to power inside the parliament. If they decline, we will dissect their arguments in public and deliver them the shame they deserve, plus: this will be useful to demonstrate in court that the Bundestag still silences human rights activism in Germany.

If people want to help with the seminar or support the BT3P, what can they do?

There are various ways to strengthen this cause. We thank all the people who have generously donated in the past and invite you to share some euros with us if you can. We are in for a legal battle that might last on for several years.

Supporters have also come to our first public hearing in Berlin, even though, unfortunately, they were denied to enter the court for reasons due to the pandemic. Hopefully this will be different next time! Others have helped with media work, photographs, videos. You know who you are – thank you!

We said it straight from the beginning: this is not solely a legal case, but it should be a call for unification of all activists and sympathisers. If you are sympathetic with human rights, if you are standing with the oppressed, then this is for you. So, we are open to your ideas on how to broaden this campaign. We are happy to speak at events or panels. The BT3P initiative is a powerful tool for all of us!

Contacts and donations can be made via our homepage, via the email address, and via our Twitter account. Next step: please amplify the political commotion regarding the seminar application that´s going to happen in the next few days!