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Letter from the Editors, 1st February 2024

“Anti-discrimination” cause repealed. Where now in defending Berlin Artists who support Palestine?


Hello everyone,

We are still struggling with problems with our Server. Most people are getting this Newsletter, but some are not. While this problem remains, we will also post this Letter from the Editors on We hope we can upgrade to a new server soon, which should remove the problem.

Our latest Palestine Reading Group is tomorrow (Friday) at 7pm. Until now, we have been studying texts which we would largely recommend. This week we will look at some texts which support Israel. You can find the recommended reading here. For this particular meeting, we will be using a slightly different format, which requires slightly more space. For this reason, we will be meeting this week in oyoun, Lucy-Lameck-Straße 32 (NOTE: not usual venue). The Reading Group takes place every week. on alternate Fridays and Sundays. You can find the exact dates, and the subject matter for the next few meetings on our Events page. Suggested readings are usually posted roughly 1 week prior to a meeting.

On Saturday, there will be a human chain around the Bundestag protesting against the AfD. Now, it is our joint responsibility as civil society to defend a togetherness in solidarity. On 3rd February, we will show a large action around the Bundestag buildings: We are the firewall! We call on everyone to no longer watch on as the right wing is normalised in Germany and Europe. The action is organised by Hand in Hand, who are our Campaign of the Week. If you would like to demonstrate alongside other international activists in Berlin, we will be meeting outside the U-Bahn Bundestag at midday.

Also on Saturday, there will be a launch of the new book Reading Kofman in Constellation (RKIC)! RKIC is a book of poetry, fiction, comics, film, and essays resulting from a reading group of the same name that took place at Hopscotch Reading Room in 2023. Sarah Kofman (1934–1994) was a multidisciplinary philosopher and thinker whose work touched on themes including but not limited to: metaphor, psychoanalysis, feminism, artistic experience, haunting, death, and food. The event will feature readings, refreshments, and a few surprises. It starts at 3pm at Stations, Adalbertstraße 96 next door to Cafe Kotti.

On Sunday, the campaign ‘Fund Healthcare Not Warfare‘ will be launched in Germany with screenings of “United in Anger” and “Love and Suppression”. From New York to London to Berlin – queer, healthcare and anti-war activists are uniting. ‘Fund Healthcare Not Warfare’ is a new coalition of anti-war, Jewish Voice for Peace, Palestine solidarity activists and healthcare movements to demand a permanent ceasefire now and an end to the Israeli occupation, apartheid and settler colonialism.  The films will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A. The Event starts at 6pm at Tipsy Bear Berlin, Eberswalder Str. 21

The Berlin LINKE Internationals have their monthly meeting on Monday, 5th February at 7pm at Ferat Kocak’s office, Schierker Straße 26. This month’s meeting will be concentrate on the attacks on Berlin artists for supporting Palestine.  The discussion will be kicked off by a representative of the Arts and Cultural Alliance Berlin (ACAB) who have been organising demonstrations against Berlin’s misnamed “anti-discrimination” clause. This discussion will be preceded by a short discussion of Events organised by the group, including report backs from the Palestine Reading Group and the meetings on Apartheid Israel and Gaza, as well as coming events like the Gaza film and fa on February 10th, a possible meeting on Imperialism in Africa (postponed from last year), and Summer Camp at the end of June.

There is much more going on in Berlin. 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.

If you are looking for Resources on Palestine, we have set up a page with useful links. We will be continually updating the page, so if you would like to recommend other links, please contact us on If you would like to donate to people in Gaza, Fida’a, who spoke at our meeting last week on Gaza, recommends this GoFundMe campaign for medical professionals. She also recommends this call to escalate the pressure on our governments to end the ceasefire.

In News from Berlin, Berlin’s discriminatory “anti-discrimination clause” is withdrawn, warnings against the Nazi party Die Dritte Weg, and AfD sees rise in membership despite revelations of meetings with Nazis.

In News from Germany, the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance is launched, Judith Butler and others call for a boycott of Germany, transport workers to strike on Friday, and new survey shows that many East Germans feel left behind.

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

New on theleftberlin, we interview ACAB about the “anti-discrimination” clause and suppression of support for Palestine on the Berlin Art scene, the second part of Rasha Al-Jundi and Michael Jabareen’s photography/cartoon series It’s So Berlin!, Shav McKay looks at the German media’s reporting of Palestine, Dutch socialist Tobias den Haan looks at the Resistable Rise of Geert Wilders, Dr. John Puntis says why we all need to support the British junior doctors’ strike, and John Mullen reports from France about why the farmers’ protests are a problem for Macron’s right-wing government.

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Keep on fighting,

The Left Berlin Editorial Board

French Farmers Give Macron a Headache

As Macron’s government, under new Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal, moves ever further to the right, once again a radical mass movement is shaking the country.

Last year, the biggest workers’ movement for decades mobilized millions across France in an attempt to defend retirement pensions. This year it is the turn of the farmers to revolt. On Tuesday, 6 000 tractors were present at 120 blockades, and at least sixteen motorways were immobilized. Regional government headquarters have been covered with manure, and a number of hypermarket distribution centres (as well as Toulouse airport) were paralysed. On the day that this article is published (Wednesday, 31st January), a column of two hundred tractors from the South of France is heading for Paris, intending to blockade the main wholesale food market of the capital at Rungis. In every town they pass through, locals express support and bring food. A “siege” of Paris and of Lyon has been announced.

France counts over 400,000 farmers, as against 100 000 in the UK. Over four decades, farmer income has fallen in real terms by 40%, and a quarter of French farmers live below the poverty line. In particular, sheep farmers, cattle farmers and fruit producers are often extremely poor. This, along with unsocial hours and isolation, can have tragic consequences. Statistics show that at least two farmers a week in the country commit suicide.

Slogans painted on the barricading tractors vary. They include the following: “I love my work, but I need to earn a living”, “We shouldn’t import food whose production is banned in France”, “Cattle farmers, wine producers, vegetable growers, one struggle !” or “ We want decent prices, not subsidies!”

Radical action works. The government has already made concessions, reducing taxes on tractor fuel, increasing compensation to cattle farmers hit by disease, and promising to put a little more pressure on the big supermarket chains, who use their market power to pay criminally low prices. This is very far from sufficient, and the vast majority of farmers are determined to continue the movement.

We must not see farmers as a homogeneous bloc. The largest farmers federation, the FNSEA, is dominated by owners of huge farms. The farmers’ movement can put forward progressive demands or reactionary ones. The Left should support moves to guarantee minimum prices for producers and to cut into the mega profits of the food and supermarket industries. But other demands, such as for the abolition of the new rule that 4% of land must be left fallow at any one time, to help restore biodiversity, and similar calls to scrap green regulations, must be opposed.

Defend green options

There are three major national farmers’ federations. The biggest, the FNSEA, (which got 55% of the votes in 2019 elections to choose farmers’ representatives) has a leadership who are hoping that the government will concentrate on scrapping green regulations and increasing agricultural subsidies, subsidies which benefit above all the biggest farms. In contrast, the left wing Confederation Paysanne (20% of the votes) is putting forward demands for minimum selling prices and a reduction of the profits of agrobusiness and supermarket chains. The Confederation says blockades should be mostly aimed at supermarket chains. Both federations are, meanwhile, protesting at new European Union treaties which aim at reinforcing the dictatorship of the market and allowing imports into Europe which are not subject to the same environmental and animal welfare rules as local production is.

Macron is hesitating before sending riot cops in, since the farmers have often been solid conservative voters. His interior minister even declared “We do not respond to suffering by sending in riot police” (which must be surprising news to the many strikers, antiracists and ecologists maimed by police on demonstrations in recent years). And farmers interviewed in the media said they were confident the police sympathized with them. This is likely to change as the actions go on, and armoured vehicles were in place around Paris Wednesday, while fifteen farmers have been arrested near Rungis. The situation is changing every day.

The most radical major workers union, the CGT, has called on its activists to attend farmers’ pickets and blockades and discuss common interests. The radical Left France Insoumise also called for support, supporting demands to freeze the profit margins of the supermarket chains and impose minimum pricing. In some towns left wing mayors have organized meetings in support. But some on the left mistakenly refuse to support the movement because of the right wing domination of the main farmers’ federation.

This week’s radical tactics were inspired by the Yellow Vest movement of a few years back, and by last year’s pensions protests, which were particularly spectacular in smaller provincial towns with a solid conservative tradition.

More and more of the distribution centres of supermarket chains are being targeted as days go by, and this is a welcome development. With a major one day teachers’ strike planned this week, a taxi drivers’ protest growing and bus drivers’ strikes in the offing, let’s hope the farmers’ example leads to more generalized revolt.

Why the British Junior Doctors’ strike is so important

Support doctors striking t o preserve a national health service

Becoming a doctor requires five years at medical school; this is then followed by two years of foundation training before entry into core/specialty training (three years for general practice and five to seven years for a hospital specialty). Only when this lengthy postgraduate period has been satisfactorily completed do doctors move from the ranks of ‘junior doctor’ (JD) into senior roles. The term JD is considered by some to be misleading since it encompasses not only newly qualified staff but others who have many years’ experience, leading some to call for a change in terminology.

JDs have been among many sections of the NHS workforce (nurses, physiotherapists, midwives, ambulance staff, radiographers, and consultants) to have taken strike actions throughout 2023 and during a time that Jeremy Hunt had declared the greatest staffing crisis in the history of the NHS and social care.

The first ever strike undertaken by JDs was in 1975 with the second not until 2016  over a new contract that sharply reduced the number of hours paid at higher rate and to which they were forced to concede. The third dispute is ongoing with 34 days of action throughout 2023 ending with an unprecedented six days in succession in January 2024. A further ballot is now planned from February 7th – March 20th seeking to extend the mandate for industrial action.

What is the strike about?

The BMA is asking for a 35% rise to restore pay to where it was 15 years ago, recognising this may need to be implemented over several years. The figure was arrived at by using the Retail Prices Index to assess the impact of inflation on salaries, arguing that since 2008 there has been a 26.1% loss of earnings. While the Office for National Statistics criticised this approach (advocating for the Consumer Prices Index) the Royal Statistical Society opined that RPI is the better indicator of change in cost of living, backing the BMA. Additional demands included that the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration become more independent of government when making recommendations for pay awards, and that once pay had been restored, consideration be given to how such severe erosion could be prevented in the future.

Of the 75,000 whole time equivalent JD in training roles, around 50,000 are members of the British Medical Association (BMA), while smaller numbers are members of the TUC affiliated Hospital Consultants and Specialist Association and Doctors in Unite. For the BMA, 77% of those eligible to vote in the February 2023 ballot did so, with 98% voting in favour of strike action. Six months later the figures had barely changed at 71% and 98%. Public support has been strong, but given the BMA does not have an established strike fund (relying on voluntary donations), some doctors may find extending action increasingly difficult for financial reasons. Government has taken the stance that 35% is unaffordable and unreasonable, and has offered only a sub-inflation figure of around 11%. JDs have pointed out that to accept such an offer would be agreeing to a pay cut in real terms.

The JDs have appeared solid and well organised, sharing a wealth of useful information to guide effective strike action and gaining support from consultants (engaged in their own pay dispute). This has led to right wing opprobrium, for example, in Policy Exchange. Reports in The Telegraph have also suggested that a small group of “radical activists” must have taken over the BMA, putting forward such “revolutionary” demands as calling for an NHS Staff Charter, a fund to meet postgraduate medical examination costs, and improvement in representation of junior doctors in deliberations about rota and service design across the NHS!

It is not just about pay

There are many other reasons for JDs being disaffected, with 40% saying they are thinking of leaving the NHS. Causes include chronic vacancies, short staffing on any given day (1,400 doctor posts), burnout from experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic including the huge scale of deaths, feeling undervalued by government, and ‘moral injury’ caused through being unable to provide the appropriate standards of care to patients. In addition, the old close-knit hospital teams offering mutual support have long since disappeared. Some observe that doctors have become ‘proletarianised’, their activities increasingly circumscribed by a dominant management body preoccupied with cost savings and budgets.

Other persistent grievances involve bureaucracy, lack of a quiet space to write up notes and order tests, outdated and slow IT systems, no provision for a restorative nap on night shift when quiet and no food availability, nowhere to safely store personal possessions/drinks bottle/packed lunch when at work, working long shifts with anti-social hours, no guaranteed breaks for rehydration, eating or even to use the toilet, and bitter memories of being refused PPE by some managers who wrongly insisted that Covid-19 was not principally spread by aerosol. Complaints also focus on strict training structures, the pressure to make an immediate career decision and a bullying culture at work.

Car parking costs have risen to around £1000/year, and child nursery care averages £1000/month. Of course plenty of other less well-paid staff feel these pressures too, and unsurprisingly, just as with JDs, many have come to regard the NHS as a bad employer. Note also that the average medical student debt at the start of their working life stands at £71,000. There are then mandatory recurrent costs in the form of medical Royal College membership subscriptions, General Medical Council (GMC) fees, and medical indemnity. Fees for college exams and during specialty training can add up to thousands of pounds.

On another front, with 8,728 vacancies across the medical workforce, the planned increase in Medical Associate Professionals (MAP) from 3,500 to 12,000 raises concerns that rather than appoint more doctors, workforce gaps will be filled by non-medical graduates. Although medical student places are being increased, retention is a huge challenge when around a third of medical students plan to leave the NHS within two years of graduating, and only 56% of those doctors who enter core training remain working in the NHS eight years later. Writing off student loan debt has been suggested as one strategy to improve retention. With unsustainable workload pressures, General Practitioner (GP) trainees are opting to work part time, meaning the NHS gains only one whole time equivalent GP for each two training places. JDs have raised questions as to why MAP are initially being paid more than themselves despite having much less training and responsibility and whether they are in competition for training opportunities. The development of medical apprenticeships as an alternative way into medicine piles on further worry as do bottlenecks in training which see career progression to senior positions blocked.

We must value and support staff to keep them in the NHS

A survey by the GMC found an increasing number of medical trainees experiencing burnout (emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion), with one in five junior doctors at high risk in 2022, compared to one in seven in the previous year. For some specialties, such as emergency medicine, this was as high as one in three in 2022. Doctors experiencing burnout are more likely to consider leaving the profession. A recent survey found that 18% of doctors considered leaving the profession in 2021 – up from 12% in 2019. Problems retaining JDs have knock-on implications for the number of consultant vacancies. A report on staff retention by the Nuffield Trust found that in the year to December 2021, one in 12 GPs left. In total, around 140,000 of NHS staff (one in nine/11%) left the NHS in the year to September 2021; this included one in 10 nurses and one in 18 consultants.

The most common reasons given for leaving were stress, shortage of staff and resources, and low pay.


It makes no sense to drive staff away from the NHS given the huge and increasing patient waiting lists. While there is now a workforce plan of sorts, throwing more staff into a system that many now consider to be a kind of mincing machine while not addressing retention is both costly and untenable. MAP should not be seen as the solution to this problem and must raise serious concerns over patient safety. Pay restoration should be an immediate priority, but there are many other things the NHS needs to do to become a good employer and show proper concern for staff and their wellbeing. A win for JDs would strengthen the pay demands and negotiating power of other staff groups. Ultimately, good patient care depends upon well-trained staff feeling supported and adequately remunerated and wanting to work in the service.

Hand in Hand

Let’s Act in Solidarity Now

Crises, wars, disasters – the world around us is increasingly shaky. Much of what we long relied upon is uncertain. In a rapidly changing world, we see the political climate in Europe changing dangerously. Fears of change, loss, and poverty are deliberately fueled, and people are pitted against each other. Divides in society deepen.

In Germany, the political landscape is developing alarmingly: right-wing and extremist views are gaining public support. Racism, antisemitism, and other forms of group-related hostility are on the rise. Individuals are demeaned due to poverty, unemployment, or homelessness, and are socially excluded. At the same time, crucial tasks such as climate protection and social justice are devalued as burdensome impositions.

Disrespect, hostilities, and the denial of facts dominate parts of the societal mood. The separation from detractors of democracy like the AfD is diminishing. Standing up for human rights is questioned. Refugees are massively deprived of rights, and those who support them are increasingly criminalized. Our societal coexistence, diversity, and fairness  – our democracy – are in danger.

But we are determined to be loud and active: for an open, democratic, pluralistic, and solidarity society, collectively against the right-wing shift in Germany and Europe! Silence is not an option! We must become visible and audible. The time to act is now because the municipal, regional, and European elections in 2024 are crucial!

Now, we ALL are called to stand up:

  • For solidarity and respect, against hate and incitement
  • For justice and tolerance, against division
  • For a society that leaves no one behind, for human dignity, against exclusion
  • For self-determination and humanity, human rights for all, against racism, antisemitism, and other forms of group-related hostility

Protest on 3rd February – 1pm, in front of the Bundestag

News from Berlin and Germany, 31st January 2024

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany


Berlin and culture funding: anti-discrimination clause dropped

For some time, the Berlin cultural scene has seen bitter division over how to respond to the conflict in Israel and Gaza. A new phase started when Joe Chialo (CDU), the Berlin Senator for Culture and Social Cohesion, signed a new anti-discrimination clause, adhering to the IHRA definition of antisemitism. But now, it seems, the state has backtracked. On January 22nd it was announced that the clause would be repealed with immediate effect. Chialo commented that this decision was made in order to “take seriously the legal and critical voices that saw the clause as a restriction on artistic freedom.” Source: exberliner

Berlin’s agency warns of neo-Nazi party

The Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution warned against the neo-Nazi party “Der III. Weg” (“The Third Way”). It is the most active group on the spectrum of classic right-wing extremism. Members of the “National Revolutionary Youth,” the party’s youth organisation, already committed several violent attacks on political opponents, according to the police and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Around Christopher Street Day, for example, they displayed a poster near the Television Tower with the slogan “Homos = Volkstod” (“homos = death of the people”). Source: berliner zeitung

AfD benefits from secret meeting with right-wing extremists

Tens of thousands of people recently demonstrated against right-wing extremism. However, the AfD is the only party in the Berlin House of Representatives that made significant gains in membership in 2023. It also benefited from the secret meeting with right-wing extremists: since January 10th, the date of the meeting, 63 membership applications have been received. This is almost a quarter of all new AfD memberships from 2023.  Wolfgang Schroeder, from the University of Kassel, is not surprised by the fact that the AfD is growing despite the protests: “It’s a strategy of closing ranks.” Schroeder nevertheless stresses that the demonstrations were not in vain: by protesting, the centre of society has shown that right-wing extremists do not speak for the majority of the population. Source: rbb24


A rebellion of seniors

On Saturday, the new “Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance” held its first party conference in Berlin, and a whiff of GDR nostalgia was wafting through the former Kosmos cinema in the eastern part of the city. Many speakers emphasised the need for more social justice and a different foreign policy that relies more on diplomacy than on arms deliveries. Other themes such as migration and climate policy were only touched on in passing. The team consists mainly of former members of the Left Party, often from Wagenknecht’s inner circle. Oskar Lafontaine also announced he was joining his wife’s party. Source: taz

Laurie Anderson willnot take up Pina Bausch professorship

The announcement is at the top of the website of the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen: the internationally renowned artist Laurie Anderson will not take up the Pina Bausch Professorship on April 1st, as previously planned. In 2021, Anderson publicly positioned herself as a supporter of the “Letter Against Apartheid,” published by Palestinian artists. Anderson was reportedly asked in Essen about her political stance on Israel. But for her, the question is not whether her political opinions have changed. “The real question is: why is this question being asked at all?” Source: berliner zeitung

“Strike Germany:” Judith Butler signs call for a cultural boycott of Germany

Judith Butler is now one of the more than 1,000 signatories of the “Strike Germany” appeal. The appeal calls for a boycott of German cultural institutions on the grounds that Germany’s policies are too pro-Israel, that Palestinians are discriminated against in Germany and that artistic freedom is restricted. Until now, French Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernaux was considered the most prominent signatory of the boycott call. According to her German publisher Suhrkamp, however, Ernaux’s books will continue to be sold in Germany and her theatre plays will continue to be performed. Source: berliner zeitung

ver.di announces local transport warning strikes for Friday

The trade union ver.di has called for extensive warning strikes, including at the Berlin public transport company (BVG). There had previously been reports of strike plans for Berlin. It is now clear that there will be restrictions almost throughout Germany, including in Brandenburg. ver.di wants to ensure that all employees receive, among other things, 33 days’ holiday, without tiering. The union also insists on 500 euros holiday pay per year. According to the union, more than 130 municipal companies and 90,000 employees are affected. The state of Bavaria, where strikes are not yet permitted due to the current collective labour agreement, will not be affected. Source nd

East Germans feel left behind more often

According to a new study by the University of Jena, the residential environment is decisive for the development of political attitudes. A key finding of the so-called Germany Monitor is that those who see their immediate surroundings and themselves as disadvantaged are more likely to feel that politicians might not be sufficiently interested in their region. Some cliches do not hold: there is hardly any difference in how people in the East and West rate their quality of life, or between the perceptions of rural and urban residents. Nevertheless, one in five East Germans feels “left behind,” compared to only 8 per cent of West Germans. Researchers argue that this is because they live in regions there that are severely affected by emigration and an ageing population. Source: tagesschau