The Left Berlin News & Comment

This is the archive template

Robert Habeck wrote a play praising a right-wing mass murderer

Fifteen years ago, Germany’s Green vice chancellor wrote a play in which the hero is a right-wing mass murderer


Robert Habeck cuts a noble and tragic figure. The Green vice chancellor, with his three-day beard, open collar, and permanently disheveled look, strikes many as a former idealist who has been forced to abandon his principles. Deborah Feldman, an American Jewish immigrant, recently wrote that Habeck once seemed like »the little guy, one of us, a dreamer and a storyteller, someone who went into politics because he thought he could change it.« What a disappointment! Yet what did Habeck used to dream about?

Fifteen years ago, Habeck and his partner wrote a play called Neunzehnhundertachtzehn (»Nineteen Eighteen«) for the 90th anniversary of the German Revolution, which began in his home town of Kiel. The hero of the play is a Social Democratic fixer named Gustav Noske.

Every biography says more about the author than the subject – it’s a book length reflection about what constitutes a good life. Long before throwing his hat into the national political ring, Habeck told us how he thought a responsible politician should act. This insight was worth far more than the ten Euros I paid for a used copy of the play.

If you’ve ever heard of Gustav Noske, it’s because he gave the order to assassinate Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. But this was no isolated murder. As war minister in the counterrevolutionary government of Friedrich Ebert, Noske commanded far-right paramilitaries who massacred 2.000 men, women and children in March 1919 in Berlin. He referred to himself as a »bloodhound«. The first time a German city was bombed from above? That was Noske’s proto-fascist troops using airplanes to attack the working-class neighborhood of Lichtenberg.

Habeck could have written about anyone. But he needed to tell us that Noske was actually a pretty cool guy.

The play takes place in early November 1918, two months before Noske’s career as a bloodhound begins. A revolution has just broken out in Kiel and the government needs an agent to keep things under control. As an experienced politician, Noske runs circles around the insurrectionary workers and sailors who are trying to build a new system. He proudly lies and manipulates everyone in order to keep the old system in place.

Beyond Noske, the play has little to do with the historical record. The actual head of the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council in Kiel, for example, was a sailor named Karl Artelt. He had organized strikes at the Kiel shipyard, and remained a committed socialist until his death in 1981. Habeck chose to replace Artelt with a young worker named Fritz, a hothead whose main revolutionary activity consists of stabbing officers with his bare hands. He claims to carry out executions »in the name of the soldiers’ council«, but in practice Fritz rejects any kind of democracy. In reality, the revolution in Kiel involved very little killing and certainly none by Artelt.

Habeck has Noske save the day, bursting into rooms like the Kool-Aid Man to stop »bloodshed« – even though Noske was by far the most bloodthirsty figure of the German Revolution. At one point, Fritz asks Noske why he wants to preserve the old order, even though he’s nominally a socialist. Habeck has his hero explain: »Because people don’t care about justice. All they care about is getting fed, being warm, being left alone. They want orderly conditions, not justice. That’s what social democracy stands for. The struggle is not for the people. The people are a sluggish, stupid, and ultimately dangerous mass. The struggle is against the people to enforce what is best for the people«.

Here is Habeck’s famed idealism! The Green Party of today is quite similar to the SPD of a century ago in their deep distrust of the »mob« and any kind of democracy.

But what about principles? Again, Habeck lets Noske elaborate: »If you take on responsibility, it changes your personality. You do things that you would have categorically rejected before … I was always against war. But if you have responsibility and someone says, if you don’t vote for this, then our soldiers won’t get gas masks and they’ll die in the next attack, then you suddenly raise the military budget, without even wanting to«.

This is yet another historical inaccuracy. Noske was never a principled antimilitarist, like the majority of the SPD at the time, but rather a voice on the party’s right wing supporting colonialism.

Over the course of the revolution, Noske was successful in maintaining »order«. He did this by arming right-wing paramilitaries to the teeth and giving them free rein to murder some 15.000 people. These Freikorps would soon organize themselves in the NSDAP and take power themselves. The Nazis acknowledged the help they had gotten from Noske: Hitler referred to him as »oak among these social democratic plants«. Even after the war, when he wrote his memoirs in 1946, this murderer of countless Jewish revolutionaries continued to make disparaging remarks against »Ostjuden« (Eastern Jews).

Years before he had any real responsibility, Habeck was telling us that principles are only there to be betrayed once you gain power.

This is the latest article in Nathaniel’s Red Flag column published in neues deutschland. Reproduced with permission

Everything is Broken

As an Israeli, I cry for the diminishing possibility of peace with Palestinians

How did you know?”, everybody asks me now. “You made the right decision.” At the start of this year (2023) my wife had received a prestigious research grant for two years at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. But half a year ago she gave in to my fears of going back to Israel and cancelled it. I had constantly reminded her of the changes with the new right-wing government. Then in April (2023) I was horrified because missiles were fired from Syria towards Israel, missiles from Hezbollah towards Israel. In May (2023) Israel eliminated the head of the extreme Islamic militant organization of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Soon a war started with thousands of missiles fired from Gaza towards Israel and Israel retaliated. I did not want to go back to what I had once ran from. I was even more afraid to take our child over there. I was dramatic by the time, “We have only one daughter”. Now, it does not sound dramatic. Now, everybody almost congratulates me on saving us and staying in Berlin.

But actually, I cannot hear or feel those congratulations. I have no satisfaction or “I told you so” in me. I did see it coming and yet I did not see any of this coming. Not this kind of massacre in the south of Israel. Not this type of war of revenge that will now follow in Gaza. We all saw it coming because of what the army did in the Westbank, because of the cold civil war in Israel and we did not see it coming. It broke me just as it broke everyone else.

On the third day of the 2023 Israel–Hamas war (10.10), the worldwide known Israeli writer Dror Mishani wrote a column on “Haaretz” liberal newspaper in which he asks Israeli government, for once, not to launch a war of revenge against Hamas. He suggested to remain in mourning for the massacre of 1400 Israelis and the kidnapping of over more than 199 hostages and the wounding of thousands. Of course, no one listened to his op-ed. However, I did send him a personal email letting him know that I read his words with tears. I ended that I hope for better days. He wrote back, “I fear that good days will not come, certainly not soon. Hope you are well in Berlin. You chose right… hug from here,”.

After years that I was being looked at as the one who left Israel and betrayed the national unity, I became to be the one who just “made the right choice” to move to Berlin. There is a sense that almost everyone knew or should have known where things are going. But I just feel broke and do not want to know.

I called my mom. “You don’t understand,” she says, “There are not Humans.” I tried to tell her that not all Palestinians support Hamas; and maybe not all Hamas supporters supported terrorism against Israel. I was trying to talk about the siege of Gaza that continues until now (Israel don’t allow the Palestinians to build harbor or airport). “Its like the holocaust” she cries. I understand that I must stop being so rational. She was exhausted. She sat in front of the Israeli TV all day long in Haifa. She worries about the families of the hostages like it was her family. How can I blame her? Now, my nephew and niece are drafted into the army. And my sister does not sleep at night because of worry. I should cry with her. I feel that I made a mistake. I didn’t listen carefully. Maybe because I was too far from all this.

My mind circles around the desperation and shortmindedness in those days. The Palestinian-Israeli poet wrote about the pointlessness of revenge:

Taha Muhammad Ali
translated by Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi, and Gabriel Levin

At times … I wish
I could meet in a duel
the man who killed my father
and razed our home,
expelling me
a narrow country.
And if he killed me,
I’d rest at last,
and if I were ready—
I would take my revenge!
But if it came to light,
when my rival appeared,
that he had a mother
waiting for him,
or a father who’d put
his right hand over
the heart’s place in his chest
whenever his son was late
even by just a quarter-hour
for a meeting they’d set—
then I would not kill him,
even if I could. (…)*

April 15, 2006

Could I really keep up the decency of that writer? I will never forget that Saturday morning when I heard about the terror attacks. Or the day after, when all the news about the hundreds of people who were slaughtered in the massacre that happened in the south of Israel accumulated. Slowly the number rose to more than a thousand. It also included thousands of wounded and hundreds of hostages including sick people, so many (!) kids and disable people. Their stories and pictures don’t let go. I watch them again and again and think what would I say or do if I was to lose my family to the terrorists?

I shared a status on Instagram where I wrote that I have not lost hope for Jewish and Palestinian coexistence in Israel/Palestine despite the terror, the massacre, the war, the destruction, and the enormous loss. My family relative wrote „shame on you”. I deactivated my Instagram profile for a few hours and wanted to exit all social networks. I felt lonely and lost. I am not there, maybe I cannot relate. But then again, I also know those kind of clashes.

It wasn’t the first and not the last time that Israel would be attacked by missiles and terror. I remember writing my master’s degree under the 2006 missiles attack of the Hizballah. I did a master’s degree at the University of Haifa and sometimes had to look for shelter on the way up the mountain. While studying for this degree I learned and taught myself through books I read, through civil organizations of “Musawa” and “Adalah” whose activists I met. Somehow the missiles and my understanding of the Palestinian narrative is connected. 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from Israel, after the loss in the 1948 war. I was awakened to feel the grief after the “Nakba” and the occupation that started after 67 war. The 48’ refugees tried to go back to their land, but Israel didn’t let them and even shot those who tried to cross the border between the Arab countries surrounding Israel. On the year of 1951 Israel enacted a law “Present absentee” declaring that if a Palestinian resident was not present in their homes, they lose their property. In other words, Palestinian property passed into the hands of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. Some of the people of Gaza are refugees from Haifa and the surrounding villages.

I wrote this poem as part of my awaking, as an expression of my anger, refusing to get broke:

Wieso ich keine israelischen Liebesgedichte schreibe

Für den Dichter Amiri Baraka

Erst gebt mir die Geschichte zurück
und danach die Lehrbücher
und sagt mir nicht mein Gedicht sei ein politisches Manifest
weil ihr von Unrecht keinen Schimmer habt, hier ein kleiner Hinweis
ich verlange Entschädigung von der israelischen Zentralbank
für die Palästinenser, für die arabischen Juden, für die Frauen,
für die Schwulen und die Lesben,
für jede Herabwürdigung, jedes Durchgangslager, jedes militärische
Sperrgebiet, jede Vertuschung und Bestechung
ich verlange dass ihr den Safe der Dichtung öffnet
alles Land zurückgebt an die denen ihr es nahmt und sie entschädigt
für die Schrecken der Besatzung
ich werde vor der Bank warten, vor den Fenstern der Nationalversicherung
unter den Karossen des Finanzministeriums
bis ihr den ganzen veredelten Rassismus angemessen entschädigt
erst wenn die Kinder meiner entschädigten Kinder auf der Uni sind, gleichberechtigt
ohne Demütigung, erst dann werde ich bereit sein israelische Liebesgedichte
zu schreiben

Aus dem Hebräischen von Mirko Bonné

VERSschmuggel Israel Hebräisch-Deutsch
Literaturwerkstatt Berlin April 2012

But I think something was broke or lost or fearful a long time ago within me while I still lived in Israel. I was born and raised in Haifa, which is a bi-national city in its social reality. Before the arrival of Zionism, Haifa was a cosmopolitan and multinational city, with the Palestinian population being the majority. My grandfather had fled to Haifa from the city of Mashhad at the beginning of the last century. At the end of the 19th century, in Mashhad, Iran, Jews were severely harassed. The Jews had to hide their Jewish identity for many years or to “convert” from the outside to Islam. At the start of the 20th century my grandpa bought a three floors villa on the Carmel Mountain and opened his clothing store in Haifa. He bought goods from the sailors who arrived at the port of Haifa and sold them at his shop downtown. He went around the north of Palestine, in the Palestinian cities of Shefa-‘Amr, Nazareth and Acre, and sold clothes in big quantities. His sons, my father and his brother continued the tradition of selling the clothes. My father spoke both Persian and Yiddish, both Arabic and Hebrew, English and many other languages. But this kind of life in the Middle East has stopped a long time ago.

“Man sagt, du konntest viele Sprachen wie König Salomo
aber ich erinnere mich nicht, dass du Persisch geredet hast
mit meinem Großvater, der mir die Hand reichte
und ich küsste sie.
Heute weiß ich, dieser Kuss ist ein ganz bestimmtes Wort
in einem Wörterbuch, das im letzten Jahrhundert verloren ging.”

(„1.“ Gedicht aus “Das kleine Boot in meiner Hand nenn ich Narbe: Gedichte”, Übersetzung: Gundula Schiffer, Parsitenpresse, 2023).

Maybe I did know about the wrong turns and paths of the Israeli government for a long time. But for this war, I did not know any of this coming. This terror attack did not only ruin the life of many but also destroyed any possibility of thinking about a peace and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians inside and outside of Israel. This war, like all the wars before, will not bring the solution. It will make more people broke and traumatized from both sides. For almost a decade Israel met with the Hamas only through a third person (From the Qatar government or the Egyptian government etc.). I don’t understand why the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Nethanyahu never went to sit with the leaders of the Hamas in the Gulf states. “Well, PM Netanyahu didn’t even meet with Abu-Mazen, the moderate head of the Palestinian authority in Ramallah”, people tell me, “What do you think that he will create a political suicide and meet with the leaders Hamas in Qatar?”. This is how low we got.

I tear the last hairs left on my head and ask, but the price of such a political meeting is so cheap, and no one dies from it. Whereas the price of the war is enormous, and no one can appease the bereavement and grief that remain in the desolate land of the soul.

I read the news who are getting worse and I can’t stop to think what would have happen if the western countries and Israel had recognized the results of the only democratic election in Palestine. On the year of 2006, Israel and the Western countries refused to recognize the results of the democratic elections that took place in Palestine (both in the West Bank and in Gaza). And I was invited to read several poems in the Israeli Knesset as part of a civil attempt to lift the siege on Gaza. I wrote a special cycle of poems that reflected my consciousness that wanted to connect my Jewish-Arab identity with the Palestinian identity:

„Eine unfaßbare Blockade
mitten im belagerten Wort,
wie kann man Erde ihrer Samen entkleiden
wie können Samen gedeihen
ohne Erde
Ein Kraftwerk, das Metaphern lüde
sieh, das Gedicht zerfällt nun müde
Sohn jüdischer Familie aus Bagdad
aus Aleppo und Maschhad
entfernt Wände, Türen und Scharniere.“

(„Gaza III“ Gedicht aus “Bagdad Haifa Berlin”, Übersetzung : Jan Kühne, Aphorisma Verlag, 2019).

The photos of these naïve kids that suddenly found themselves as hostages brought us nightmares. I can’t stop thinking what would happen if my daughter was kidnapped to Gaza? After all, I would also faint and not be able to express even a single word. Now, everybody talking about the Jewish Israel Grandmother (was born in Morrocco), Rachel Edri, who stalled Terrorists with Cookies. At 7 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, air-raid sirens blared in Ofakim, a town in southern Israel about 10 miles from the Gaza Strip. She saw five terrorists full armed who entered her apartment.

I saw five ‘Rottweilers’ breaking through my windows,” Rachel Edri told Israel’s Channel 13, describing the moment Hamas terrorists infiltrated her home on Simchat Torah, one of many across southern Israel that morning. “They had grenades, Kalashnikovs and what-not. ‘We are martyrs, we are martyrs,’ they yelled.” “Did you eat? Would you like a coffee or tea? I will make it for you,” she offered the terrorists as they held a grenade to her head. Rachel later told ABC news that she “knew that if they are hungry, they are angry” and so made them chicken and offered them cookies. “I fed them, I chatted with them, ‘How old are you? Where are you from?’ ” At one point, as the couple waited patiently to be rescued, they sang Israeli songs with their hostage-takers. One of the terrorists was hurt, and Rachel even bandaged his wounds, sitting with him and stroking his hand. “I was trying to distract them so they wouldn’t kill us. I also did not want them to get hungry and irritated.” (Chabad site)

She also offered them tea and cookies until the IDF soldiers came to rescue. In that manner, she used her North African hospitality, and something in this Arabic-cultural connection saved her life.

Berlin gave me the opportunity to meet the first person from Gaza. In Israel we don’t have any chance to meet Palestinians from Gaza. He was drinking his coffee at the same cafe where I sat “Kafetisch” on Weser Street. We found ourselves in the smokers’ section (before I stopped smoking). And we found out that we both like to play backgammon. And very quickly the game started to be the connecting thread between us. Every time I came to the cafe we would play. He taught me to play “Machbusa” which is a completely different version of backgammon. Will he still play with me?

In Berlin I also met a Hezbollah soldier. This was especially strange. I once served in southern Lebanon. Every time I went up to the border with Lebanon with my tank, we would discover bombs that Hezbollah had left on the border. I wrote a poem about a temporary peace I made with the Hezbollah soldier.

Ein Hisbollah Soldat und ein Soldat der Israelischen Armee
treffen sich zufällig am Ufer eines Flusses
er wollte dich aus dem Libanon jagen, weil du in sein Haus
eingebrochen bist
du hast entsprechend bezahlt, um an den Holzkolben seiner
Kalaschnikow zu kommen
mitten im Gespräch stellt er dich seinen libanesischen
Freunden vor
ein seltener Moment raucht aus dieser Berliner Friedenspfeife
gen Himmel
der Fluss, der Leviathane von allerlei grauenhaften Kriegen
gesehen hat, wird mit high
und du weißt, immer laden wir Schuld auf uns, aber für so eine
Freundschaft auf Zeit
gibt es eine Wolke, dem Auge verborgen
die flüstert Gott ein süßes Geheimnis zu.“

(„7“ Gedicht aus Gedicht aus “Das kleine Boot in meiner Hand nenn ich Narbe: Gedichte”, Übersetzung: Gundula Schiffer, Parsitenpresse, 2023).

Will our friendships continue despite this war? And again, the Hizballah treating to bomb the north of Israel where my family located. And every day I just worry and no end to the weight upon our shoulders.

Hebrew friends of colleagues of mine are now afraid to go and speak Hebrew by the Arab shops of Neukölln, a middle eastern neighborhood not far from my house. Last Friday “Kiddush” night on the Fraenklerufer synagoge in Kreuzberg the German president Frank Walter Steinmeier came and gave a speech: “Jews in Germany should never again have to fear for their lives. Protecting Jewish life in Germany is part of the self-image of our democracy. The safety of Jews is written into the foundation of our democracy. And only if our Jewish fellow citizens live in peace and security, only then can our entire country do so.” Later, Hundreds of Jewish, and non-Jewish people came to the synagogue to form a kind of symbolic human protective shield. So Steinmeier promised a sense of security, but the Jews are afraid in Berlin.

The Israeli generals promise to eliminate the Hamas. But the human price is catastrophic. And still no water, food or humanitarian help is allowed to enter. And I ask myself if Israel really thinks that if it succeeds in killing and eliminating all Hamas fighters, it will succeed in replacing it with a more tolerant regime? After all, the US managed to remove the dictatorship of Sadam Hussein in Iraq, and Al Qaeda arrived, and afterwards, ISIS arrived, and to this day Iraq is devastated because of the mistake made by the US and Britain in their unprovoked attack on this poor country.

A friend from Haifa sends me a message from the funeral of another high-school friend of us who was massacred at the Nature trans party on the south of Israel. My heart breaks down. The violence came so close to me. My entire facebook feed is filled with stories of people begging for an immediate prisoner exchange deal. But it seems that Israel is eager to revenge the Hamas more than to free their Palestinian prisoners. People don’t know that the Palestinian story is entangled with the story of its political prisoners. Since 1967, when Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, it has arrested an estimated one million Palestinians, the United Nations reported last summer. One in every five Palestinians has been arrested and charged under the 1,600 military orders that control every aspect of the lives of Palestinians living under the Israeli military occupation. That incarceration rate doubles for Palestinian men — two in every five have been arrested.

I am broke because I do not know how we get out of this war. In the last decade I tried in all my artistic work to connect Jews and Arabs, between Israelis and Palestinians, between my Jewish-Arab past and the past of all the exiles I could only meet in Berlin. One of my latest initiatives “We: Jews and Arabs writing in Berlin” managed to get a grant from the Berlin Senate to produce a festival of the “Middle Eastern Union” which will be established (like the European Union) after the peace between Israel and Palestine. The bi-national festival was curated together by Palestinians and Israelis met with great reactions from the German media. But now I am afraid Israel and Palestine will be another Iraq or Afghanistan.

But how do I know? I did not really know any of this coming. I hope I am wrong about this one too – like I was not: by not going to Israel and staying in Berlin. But reality bites the possibility of peace. I tell my partner that the chance for peace with the Palestinians and the Israelis is lost. And she cries and tells me, “Don’t say it won’t happen.” And I cry with her.

Mati Shemoelof’s website

An earlier version of the article appeared in a Danish newspaper “Information” (20.10), in the Berliner Zeitung (28.10) and in Lithuanian: “Siaures Atenai” (10.11)

Letter from the Editors, 30th November 2023

Reading group. demo ands films for Palestine

Hello everyone,

Yet another very busy week ahead of us in Berlin. Here are some of the highlights.

Tomorrow (Friday) is our latest Reading Group on Palestine. This week’s discussion focuses on Palestinian Resistance. You can view the suggested reading here. We won’t have the time to read the articles together, so please try and read them in advance and arrive on time. If you are coming, please use the same link to register, so we have a rough idea of who’s coming. The meeting starts at 7pm. The venue is once more the H48 Projektraum. For those of you who weren’t there last week, this is in the back courtyard of Hermannstraße 48 on the first floor (ring the buzzer “Projektraum”). Everybody is invited to join the discussion.

On Saturday at 2pm, join the latest demonstration Stop the Genocide in Gaza for Palestine, for justice, for liberation! The German repressive system, the police violence, the ridiculous yet dangerous attempts to defame solidarity with Palestine–has not, and will not stop us to come together. After 47 days of ruthless, ceaseless attacks on the besieged population of the Gaza strip, and with the full and unconditional support of the United states and several EU powers, including Germany, Palestinians in Gaza are still exposed to ethnic cleansing and genocide. The demonstration meets at Blochplatz in Gesundbrunnen. If you would like to march with other internationals, you can meet us between U-Bahn Gesundbrunnen and the main entrance of the Gesundbrunnen Center at 1:45pm.

On Saturday at 6pm, Ararat Berlin and Cafe Arakil have organised an event, They didn’t know we were seeds: An Armenian, Palestinian, Kurdish Soliküche. The fire burning across our ancestral lands is raging anew and by no coincidence all at once: Artsakh, Gaza, Rojava, Rojhilat. Behind each of these names—and many more—are people who have refused to be torn out by the roots. Join us for an evening of nourishment and exchange. We’ll bring our cuisines and music together and raise funds for each of our causes. The event takes place at @cafe_arakil in @spore.initiative Hermannstr. 86.

On Sunday at 4pm, the Berlin LINKE Internationals has organised a Küfa and Palestinian Film Evening. The event takes place at Bilgisaray, Oranienstraße 45 and offers Palestinian dishes. Between 7pm and around 9:30pm a series of films about Palestine will be shown (you can see a list in the Event description). All money raised will be split equally between covering the costs for the demonstration for Palestine on 2nd December in Berlin and supporting Oyoun’s fundraiser against losing all their funding because they hosted an event by a Jewish organisation. Please join, have fun, and donate generously to support two important causes.

On Monday at 7pm, it’s the Berlin LINKE Internationals again with their monthly planning meeting followed by a discussion on Die LINKE – benefits, problems, and alternatives. The LINKE Internationals group receives some funding from the party. At our last meeting we decided to stay in the party and fight for radical politics, but to continue to monitor the state of the party and our relationship to it, including possible alternatives. On Monday, we will continue this discussion, with an input by Freek Blauwhof, Dutch socialist who works for MP Pascal Meiser in the Bundestag. Everyone is invited to join this discussion, which takes place in Ferat Kocak’s office, Schierker Straße 26.

On Tuesday at 7pm, the campaign Anmeldung für Alle will be launched at a meeting in the Grüner Salon, Rosa Luxemburg Platz 2. The commodification of living space in Berlin affects everyone, in particular migrants. Alongside housing speculation, rising prices, and the resulting competition, limitations like “no Anmeldung possible” to a vicious circle. Without Anmeldung there’s no work, and without work you can’t get the Anmeldung you need to get an Anmeldung. The event will be in English, but we will simultaneously translate in Spanish, Portuguese and German. Anmeldung für Alle is our Campaign of the Week.

There is much more going on in Berlin, it’s another very busy week. To find out what’s happening, go to our Events page. You can also see a shorter, but more detailed list of events in which we are directly involved in here.

Remember that we are also involved in organising a few events next weekend.

More information in next week’s Newsletter.

In News from Berlin, thousands protest in Berlin against war, childcare workers and teachers strike for better pay and working conditions, and controversy around the Olympiastadion continues around Germany’s bid to host the Olympics.

In News from Germany, Jewish artist’s video installation about prostitution is cancelled, Peng! Collective protests against Amazon on Black Friday, train strike is back on after employers show no will to negotiate, insolvencies in Germany reach a record high, and car summit to discuss “electromobility”.

Read all about it in this week’s News from Berlin and Germany.

This week on theleftberlin, Ferat Kocak argues that the fights against racism and antisemitism must be united, we print the text of the JK Langford performance at the Jüdische Stimme 20th anniversary, we argue why Palestine is a trade union issue, Eleri Connick argues that we must recognise Palestinian agency, and Berlin-based Israeli poet Mati Shemoelof grieves for what is happening in his homeland.

Outside the discussion around Palestine, the Bloque Lateinamericano Berlin look at Argentina’s new right-wing president Javier Milei. we argue that more police is no solution to address the problems around Görlitzer Park, and Nathaniel Flakin recalls when Germany’s Green vice-chancellor glorified a mass murderer.

This week’s Video of the Week shows Letzte Generation’s mass occupation of the Straße des 17, Juni last Saturday.

You can follow us on the following social media:

If you would like to contribute any articles or have any questions or criticisms about our work, please contact us at And please do encourage your friends to subscribe to this Newsletter.

Keep on fighting,

The Left Berlin Editorial Board

We need rage, not guilt.

On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it’s time that we recognise Palestinian agency


“The last two weeks… It kind of created a disappointment for me towards the West. Especially because these countries are, especially us as Arabs, we aspire to go to because we can have freedom there and we can do whatever we want. But since seeing that there is this hidden racism and there is this, uh, control of speech… I used to think, you know, the West is really experienced with humanitarian things, but they’re really experienced with humanitarian things that are for white people.”

(Zababdeh, 2023).

It was in the closing of our interview that Zababdeh shared the disappointment that he felt about the West’s response to the genocidal violence taking place in Gaza and the ethnic cleansing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Zababdeh’s was the first interview I carried out with Palestinians in Amman, an overlooked part of the Palestinian diaspora whose stories [if they are told] are often framed through a limiting and orientalist lens. The six interviews which took place in the third week of October aimed to capture the mood in Amman. The interviews – which started by simply asking “how did you wake up to the news of October 7?” – very quickly became narratives about this disappointment and failure of the West.

“And I couldn’t breathe because I know the West, I know that they are a bunch of criminals, it’s not that. It’s just, it’s the world that we live in has been forever and until this moment so unfair.”

(Dawaymah, 2023).

As the interviews continued and I listened to the shared stories of disappointment, frustration, and fatigue it wasn’t sadness I felt, but rage. Whilst at the centre of these stories were political systems and media, I could not help thinking about the academy. It was as if the interviewees were talking directly to me about the failure of academic institutions, particularly when reflecting upon Al Quds’ description of these weeks:

“It goes from anger to hope to rage, to feeling dismissed. It’s insane every other day…my profile is not even public. It’s a private profile with my friends on it. Why the hell would you shadow ban me and they’re, like most of them, are Arabs? So going through those emotions of being silenced, it is all about feeling dismissed. Yeah, you are dismissing a whole population. And that’s the scary part, you know? It feels like, am I missing something? I mean something in the history of Palestine that we fucked up. Like did the Palestinians do something so bad, worse than the Holocaust, for us to be dismissed this much?”


Listening to these stories, it would have been easy to put the focus on all the other agents at play, but in every research encounter, I think each of us has a duty to ask: “what is my role in this?” I felt enraged because dismissal is something that scholars can help to limit, to remediate, and to do so with a historical contextualisation to guide readers in a way in which the media cannot in its desire for fast stories. I think it’s why I have been so shocked at both the silence and silencing taking place in higher education institutions not only in the Netherlands, but globally. It has left me with the same feelings of disappointment, frustration and fatigue. However, I don’t want to use this space to reemphasize how academia has so far failed Palestinians during this crisis. Instead, I urge you to respond to the clarion call that emerged from these interviews in Amman and to take heed of these three things: urgency, agency and rage.


As a doctoral candidate within a Heritage and Memory Department, I’m part of an academic collective which praises itself for being at the heart of understanding conflict heritage. It’s a realm in which scholars constantly assert that we look at heritage not to understand the past, but to understand the present. However, the current intellectual atmosphere is one where if Palestine is discussed, the conversation is quickly steered into a realm of depoliticization. I know many of my colleagues are more confident working with “oral history”, but we are witnessing unprecedented levels of erasure of lives, ecology, cities, and more. This is the time for each of us to step out of our comfortable and secure spaces and to be writing about Palestine now – not waiting for the oral histories of these events to emerge before writing. On November 29th, many of us will be uniting for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, those of us in the Dutch higher education sphere are demanding the right to openly teach about the history of Israeli occupation and apartheid without intimidation. Whilst there has not only been silence from many scholars, there has also been a terrifying level of silencing (and policing) of those of us speaking out. Thus, I also call upon comrades who can support scholars to get our work out through different mediums – if our institutions silence us, I make an urgent plea for journals to help us by publishing at least through a blog form as soon as possible.


Palestinians do not need you to speak for them, and they have never needed anyone to do so. What is required though is to ensure our writing and our teaching supports Palestinian agency rather than diminishing it. The traps that have been laid for decades in the European institutions – with voice and power in the wrong place have not disappeared. Moving forward we need to make a simple change in words, but one with huge reverberations. We must remember to learn from Palestine, and not learn about Palestine. As learning communities, we need to centre Palestine (and Palestinians) not as a subject to decades of colonial violence but as an agent in which we can actively learn from. We as scholars have a responsibility to produce scholarship which disrupts popular language surrounding Palestinians in their abstractness or as mere numbers – this is critical. If we as scholars do not disrupt these narratives, then we play into one of the weapons being utilised by Zionists and the media whereby dehumanisation is used as a tool to suppress and censor Palestinian stories – promoting a narrative that Palestinians are subhuman and thus, less worthy of space and voice. I urge you to think seriously about the question: where is the voice and power?


These are abnormal times. It’s not on over-exaggeration to state that there now seems to be a pre-Oct 7 and post-Oct 7 world. Whilst violence against Palestinians is not new, this event has truly shocked many who’ve been engaged with the long history of Palestine – never before have we had access to watch and witness genocide. We carry these violent crimes in our pockets -watching these acts feeling helpless and questioning our capacity to do something, filled with a huge sense of sadness and guilt over the injustices. However, I urge you to change your response. Do not be part of the resistance because you feel sorry for the plight of Palestinians. Palestinians do not want your sympathy; they want your action. When we feel sadness and guilt we tend to close off and move away from actions. As Wendy Pearlman writes these are disempowering emotions. Instead, listen to these stories and feel rage. Let rage empower you to listen to the stories of Zababdeh, Al Quds, Abasan, Yaffa, Dawaymah and Abu Dawaymah and take action. Do not take these stories to be part of a narrative of the events of October 7 that we will study in history books, but stories to act upon. Our institutions are telling us that to have rage is to bring about an unsafe environment – it’s not. It’s that our institutions know that when we have rage, we are empowered to we act, and we do. Allow these feelings, lean into them, and act upon them.

Me: “How would you describe what you are witnessing right now to your nephew?”

Yaffa: “I will tell him that we tried to fight for our existence, tried to fight for our dignity.”

There’s not much left to say when you listen to Yaffa’s words aside from urging you, as fellow scholars, that we have a duty to actively challenge those who continue to dismiss the voice of Yaffa. Instead, respond to this clarion call and the need for urgency, agency and rage.

All interviewees named have been changed to pseudonyms – the pseudonyms play homage to the origins of those I interviewed as a way in which to keep the names of Palestinian towns and cities alive.

Anmeldung für Alle

Registration for everyone

The Anmeldung affects our lives as migrants in a very tangible way. Not having it excludes us from basic rights:

  • It is not possible to open a bank account or a receive Steuer ID (necessary for access to the labor market).
  • The Anmendung is usually required to obtain a visa or to renew it.
  • We also cannot have health insurance or receive public benefits.


The commodification of housing in Berlin affects everyone, but especially migrants. In addition to real estate speculation and rising prices and the resulting competition, restrictions such as “Keine Anmeldung möglich” lead to a vicious circle. Without Anmeldung, there is no work; without work, there is no housing to get an Anmeldung. For many migrants, the vicious circle of the Anmeldung often leads to exclusion from basic rights and services that are essential for a decent life.


  • We demand universal Anmeldung for all Berliners.
  • We demand the decriminalization of acts of solidarity related to Anmeldung.
  • We demand a solution to the housing crisis as well as to the problem of the Anmeldung.


That is why we are launching the campaign AfA – Anmeldung für Alle! to bring about a change in the legislation and/or practice of registration. We would like to invite you to be part of this campaign, which focuses on migrants as self-determined political actors in the city, so that our rights are no longer an afterthought!

  • If you would like to become actively involved in the campaign, please email us at We invite you to spread the word about the campaign on your social media channels and to attend future meetings and activities!


Anmeldung für Alle is organising an Event to kick off the campaign in the Grüner Salon in the Volksbühne on Rosa Luxemburg Platz. The Event starts at 7pm on Tuesday, 5th December. Please come along and support the campaign.