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“A lot of Palestinians here have the feeling of being invisible”

Interview with Anna Younes


20/04/2024

Anna Younes (she/her) is a researcher who works with Race Critical Theories, Settler Colonialism and Psychoanalytic approaches. She finished her PhD in 2015/16, researching white German anti-Antisemitism seminars in Berlin, Germany, and mobilized the term “War on Antisemitism” for her theorization. Her work has moved on since then and keeps on developing. It can be found at www.annaestheryounes.net 

How do you see Antisemitism as being instrumentalized to manage non-white migration in a white-supremacist Europe?

First of all, I think ‘race’ is being instrumentalized and weaponized, not ‘Antisemitism’ per se. What we are witnessing is a racializing and racist discourse, not a discourse about an actual Antisemitism, which is still very well and alive in Germany (and coming almost 90% from conservative forces and the far right). Plus, talking about “weaponizing Antisemitism” might easily fall – even if not intended – into actual anti-Jewish sentiments because it sounds, at least in semantics, as though it is Jews who are responsible for it. It would be more correct to speak about “weaponizing Whiteness” or simply “weaponizing race”.

Secondly, in my work I have been trying to connect what I call a “War on Antisemitism” to other counterinsurgencies such as the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror.” The War on Terror and the War on Antisemitism, instigated by imperial settler colonial global hegemons, both global (the USA) and regional (Israel), have been developing side-by-side. These state-funded, political counterinsurgencies operate by managing, and actively fighting, anti-imperial, anti-capitalist and anti-racist movements and individuals working to ‘decolonize’ the state and international capitalist system. Their strategies include surveillance, incarceration, targeted killings, war, repression of freedom of speech, restriction in migration and asylum politics and legal warfare – including revocations of citizenship. We see this panning out in full force all over the Western hemisphere with regards to Palestine these days for everyone to witness. Before, we have already seen it with regards to the War on Terror and the War on Drugs. The latter was launched to get rid of the rest of the anti-war left (Vietnam) and the Black revolutionary movements (Black Panthers and others) and obviously their continuous critiques of capitalism, after McCarthyism was already over. Furthermore, many laws with regards to money transfers etc. stem from these earlier counterinsurgency wars in supposed ‘post-colonial’ Western nation states as a response to political decolonization after WWII. These wars were always transnational and targeted populations inside and outside the Western nation state.  

In what ways are police and state repression of pro-Palestinian activism in Germany rationalised with the transnational logic of securitisation and threats of political damage?

I would argue that the German state has turned the Palestinian into a transnationally operating figure of ‘terror’ and ‘antisemitism’. The figure of the Jew, which is the Janus-faced ‘other’ of said Palestinian and Muslim figures of terror and antisemitism, has been turned into a transnationally operating figure by European Christian Antisemites before. 

Today, this transnational figure of the Jew is mobilized by the state and its elites yet again in the name of labouring for racial capital and security. However, this time the figure of the Jew acts as a ‘buffer zone’ and ‘racial frontier figure’ against the omnipotent and seemingly omnipresent figure of ‘Muslim terror’ and ‘Palestinian antisemitism’. In short, once the figure of the Jew was used to further Whiteness (Aryanness) in Germany by eliminating Jews, today the figure of the Zionist Jew is used to further Whiteness by getting rid of Palestinians and thus also Muslims, Arabs, Africans, refugees, etc. In other words, today’s frontier figure and fantasy of the ‘European Jew on the Brink of Extinction’ is mobilised by both old-school Antisemites and modern racists to labor on the racial frontier of capital and politics in Germany, on European borders and in Israel. Another uncanny moment is also that Germans are now becoming the better Jews, or rather Zionists. I used Rachel Dolezal as an example in a text of mine to compare said parasitic racial convergences, but a Dolezal for Jews and Germany. *laughs*

In short, while the transnationally operating racist figure of the Jew is used to argue for Europe’s self-defence, the transnationally operating Palestinian figure is used to argue an omnipresent terror and antisemitism, from which we need to protect the Zionist Jews. All other Jewish identities are not in need of protection by the state anymore either. That is why I argue to talk about Whiteness, Zionism included, as a political economic project and in this case also as a counterinsurgency. 

How is a de-facto expulsion of pro-Palestinian perspectives from the arts taking place in Germany?

The arts are not special. But they are targeted after radical movements and public intellectuals have already been disposed of. In 2016, when Pary El Qalqili, Nadia Kabalan and I organised the first one-month-long, interdisciplinary and transnational Palestinian arts festival in Germany at Ballhaus Naunynstraße, called “After the Last Sky”, we were torn apart in the media. Back then, the media attacked us two weeks after the festival was over. The Israeli ambassador even accused us of having called for genocide (German: Volksverhetzung) – he wasn’t even at the festival *laughs*. During that time, the tabloids and newspapers called for ‘political background checks’ of curators and argued that state funding shouldn’t be given to Antisemites. In many ways, what they set the stage for back then with us is absolutely normalized in Germany today. Some people call this political climate a ‘New McCarthyism’ and I see the point they are trying to make. But I also think that this framing leaves out repression in colonial systems: being politically ‘cancelled’, surveilled and having the masses misinformed about your political goals is a colonial tool. It has also been going on for a long time for people of colour in the West, or Jews in a still colonial Europe. 

People call this a “New McCarthyism”….?

‘McCarthyism’ came shortly before US American apartheid (Jim Crow) was finally over, in a time where new trade relations were formed in the name of continuing imperialism. This also demanded change in political relationships along with an ever more critical white Western elite. McCarthy came as a response to these political changes, the radicalization of movements and public intellectuals against US American economic imperialism at home and abroad. But the tools he and his people used were colonial; the goal was to continue colonial imperialism in a seemingly new polit-economic system. That’s why I would call it simply colonial. But maybe the European bourgeoisie understands ‘McCarthyism’ better. In many ways it’s worse, in fact: if this was McCarthyism we would all have political show trials, televised “hearings”, and people could watch us being tried *laughs*. I mean it was a big political performance back then meant to intimidate. Today, we are rather  “disappeared” from public debate! People usually don’t even hear about us, or know that the bank account of Jewish Voice for Peace in Germany has been cancelled for the third time now, if I am not mistaken. That’s why I think it’s different to McCarthyism. It’s colonial. Interestingly, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei compared what is going on in the West to the “Cultural Revolution” under Mao in China, rather. The only McCarthyite mirroring I can see are the recent Congressional Hearings in the USA against the Columbia University president, for instance, and many of its professors. It seems the record of education shall be cleaned from Palestinian history and resistance?

How do you understand the ideological erasure of Palestine in German speaking academic environments?

I would say that settler colonial theories offer us the tools to understand the eviction from our constitutional “homes” as the dispossession of our spaces and rights: the moving around of populations, or else their elimination, to maintain the homogeneity of a polis in the name of dominating territory, politics and thus also an economy is settler colonial. In this scenario and others obviously, academia is also the site where the elite of a state, as well as its globally operating capital interests, are educated and created in the service of reproducing and maintaining said structures and interests. Plus, Academia is already very precarious: one labours a lot today, is full of knowledge, and the market is so saturated that institutions go for politics rather than content. If certain radical critiques aren’t marketable and consumable enough, they won’t make it into the academic structures, especially not in a political economy where there is less and less money for the humanities and social sciences. 

Evicting Palestinians qua Palestinian politics from public debate in Germany is part-and-parcel of the “New Germany”, or else, the New German Nationalism. In other words, one can assimilate and “stop publicly” being Palestinian and then you can be, conditionally, tolerated. However, evicting Palestinian politics through the Palestinian body from this national territory is foundational to keep the ‘peace’ in the reproduction of the system otherwise we would need to talk about its immanent political economy, its colonial history and its colonial legacies. These liberal notions of ‘peacekeeping’ and ‘European freedom of education’ are precisely how liberal colonial politics are used as counterinsurgency tools today. 

Can you give us an example? 

Sure, on October 12th, the Conference of the Federal Ministers for Culture (Kultusministerkonferenz) convened urgently. Following the meeting, on December 12th, 2023, the ministers issued a damning statement laying out a blueprint for the future at German Universities. The governing body of the National Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) has sworn allegiance to this statement and follows suit in its programmatic approach. In a 10-point-programme, the document declares its unconditional solidarity with “Humans of Jewish Faith” (“Menschen Jüdischen Glaubens”) and “Israeli Citizens”, and stands against all Antisemitic and anti-Israeli incidents that have happened on campuses. Again, all Jews are understood as Zionist, and non-Zionist Jews become the target of these managerial moments, where once the Nazis already declared to define what Jewishness and Judaism means.

Here, the ‘racial frontier’ logic unfolds unashamedly: the document calls for securing peace and order at Germany’s universities with the purpose of ensuring an environment of “carefree study, research, and discussion”. While citing the IHRA definition as a mandatory and much needed guide for universities, the text also openly calls for minority management in Point 7, by moving from the IHRA-definition as quasi-law to its treatment as actual German law. 

What is euphemistically called “effective case-management” on page three, essentially calls for a ‘by all means possible’ approach to be used as offered by the “rule of law” as well as by investigations by the university itself. After Point 6 has already established that “universities are sites of freedom”, the Janus-faced other side of modernity thus requests to review “security concepts, establish a close exchange with the security authorities in the event of threats and strengthen security precautions where necessary.” (“Action plan against Antisemitism and Israeli-hatred,” Kultusministerkonferenz, December 7th, 2023, p. 3) The list goes on, obviously, and that is just one of the many examples. 

In a recent academic blog posting, you speak about the dehumanisation of Palestinians by their representation as ‘human animals’. What does this mean for ideas of settler colonialism?

So, in this piece, I am arguing that the cutting of land, animals and humans into pieces in the name of the reproduction of capital is driving settler colonial interests, with a particular focus on ecology and the non-human. Furthermore, in this and another piece I am arguing to start thinking from “death worlds” and the “walking dead”. I was happy to hear that Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kervokian is thinking the same in terms of “cutting people into pieces” when it comes to the Israeli settler colonial regime.

It was settler colonialism – aka, the conquest of the Americas or the inner-Asian slave trade of the Dutch for instance; the dispossession,  enslavement and/or channelling of millions of Indigenous peoples to Europe, the Caribbean, or places like the Azores or Madagascar; the institutionalisation of racial slavery by the 16th and 17th century on plantations in the Americas, etc. – it was settler colonialism which facilitated the emergence of what we today call capitalism, not simply ‘colonialism’. 

I am thus calling for us to broaden our lenses when we speak of settler colonialism, that we understand it through the optics of land, animal, and plant life as well. In this way, it becomes understandable why Indigenous folk would often be metaphorized as plant life, black people as ‘chattel’, Jews as ‘vermin’ by the Nazis, and Palestinians today as ‘human animals’ or ‘cockroaches’ by Israelis. In this piece, I argue that we should look beyond the optics of the ‘human’ and ‘dehumanization’ as its dialectical opposite. By this I mean that these liberal, and otherwise colonising ideologies, that demand to bring people of colour, indigenous people and black people back into the fold of ‘humanity’ – or at least grant them political or legal access to the concept of the ‘human’ – need rethinking. I would argue that there is so much more to decolonize than simply asking for humanity to be granted to the Global South, or to people of color. There is more on this planet than the human – one might call this obsession with the human a ‘speciesist-approach’. So, there is so much more to decolonize than just what we understand as ‘the human’, as well as to understand ‘the human’ through other optics, namely the planet, animals, plant life. We need to think more radically to save humanity writ-large. 

Looking beyond the optics of the human also allows us to understand why cutting animals, land and humans into pieces is necessary for the production of capital to function and reproduce itself. Let us think here of Congo and King Leopold II, who literally cut people and land into pieces. Let us think also of the hanging of Latino and Black people in the States, where onlookers and those holding barbecues around it often left those spaces with body parts as souvenirs and postcards of the event were circulated to Europe. This is not dissimilar to what we see on social media with Israeli soldiers parading their deeds in public and on social media today.

How do you view the reciprocal relationship between academia and activism?

I’m not sure what you mean by “reciprocal relationship” between academia and activism? Do you mean if it ever existed on equal terms? I know many people who work on race and racism or colonialism in German academia who are incredibly silent these days even if they have full professorships. In Germany, I get the sense that academia looks down on activism as polemic, fast-moving, non-thinking…etc. … most of the time, not all the time. It’s definitely frowned upon to be a “scholar-activist”. And as a response, activists often look down on academics. I believe that activism, scholar-activism or solely activism, especially in Germany, might benefit in this subject if it became more transnational in its lens, just like the formations of capital have always been. 

Furthermore, as long as we think that Germany is the worst devil in the repression of Palestinians in activism or academia, we are missing the most important points: That A) this is not just about Palestine, but also about Standing Rock and Ferguson, about Congo, about Yemen and Kashmir. B) We need to follow the supply chains of capital interests (the weapons, AI technologies, oil and gas) and the Christian Zionists with money and particular moralities that are effecting way more people than just Palestinians, and C) we need to take seriously the analysis of the transnational and transhistorical structures that made all this possible. After all, the techniques aren’t new, and what’s happening in Palestine isn’t new either. Finally, we need to discuss and further theorize D) the transnational and transhistorical workings of settler colonialism which trap Palestinians between civilian violence and state violence. These might be extreme in Germany within Europe, but they are not confined to it – in the USA people were literally shot! E) It’s really important that we do not “re-center” Germany, yet again, via arguments of “exceptionalism”. That’s what the state does already quite well. *laughs*

What role does anti-Muslim racism play in the Palestine discussion in Germany?

The ‘War on Antisemitism’, as well as the ‘War on Terror’, can only happen within the context and structures of white supremacy – which are, in our current moment, very much structured also by anti-Muslim racism. In this way, the ‘War on Antisemitism’ and the ‘War on Terror’ give further grounds onto which anti-Muslim racism unfolds. Even if you “just” talk about “anti-Palestinian racism”, it is anti-Muslim racism specifically which is the backdrop against which it is articulated. But then again, no racism exists in isolation, since race and racism change according to time and economic and political needs and cannot be given only one particular definition. Meaning, in our example, anti-Muslim racism changes and is defined constantly in relation to anti-Jewish racism, anti-Black racism, anti-Roma/Sinti racism, and so on. Context, economy and time matter.  

If racisms get a lot of attention in politics and are defined in one particular way only, then this usually serves a political goal: The IHRA definition is a good example. It has sealed and institutionalised the racial contract by making it possible for nation states, European institutions and a non-Jewish, white majority and its elites – here in particular also in Germany of all places – to be the targets and victims of Antisemitism. How ironic! The “War on Antisemitism” uses IHRA as a tool in this counterinsurgency to invert anti-racism discourses entirely: that is how the powerful victimise themselves, and the victims are portrayed as those with omnipotent powers that have come to destroy Western peace, and civilization. The level of fear-mongering, misinformation and indoctrination, alongside the willful embrace of all of it, are dangerous and scary. 

Could you speak about the Eurocentrism of likening the genocide taking place in Gaza to the Holocaust?

Well, I think it is quite dangerous to make mass violence, racism, and genocide only legible, understandable and speakable when referring to WWII and European politics – past and present. It speaks again to the fact that if it’s not understood through a European or white-centric narrative (from the Holocaust to McCarthyism) it isn’t legitmate enough to be named as “atrocity”, injustice, repression, genocide or what have you. It seems that we need to take this epistemological “European detour” – at least in discourse and rhetoric – to make our arguments legitimate. That’s sad. It’s also extremely dangerous, because it demands again a European lens to understand what is currently happening as ‘crimes against humanity’, genocide or war crimes. 

Imagine if we took Leopold’s Congo, the British starvation of the Indian population, or the killing and resettlement of indigenous people as a reference point. Maybe people wouldn’t even understand these links, simply because they might not know the histories, let alone condone said statements as legitimate grievances and arguments for what is happening today in Palestine. 

Can suffering be made palpable and consumable without reference to European history in Europe? It rather seems as though only Europe and Eurocentrism make knowledge of atrocities possible. What about all those mainly colonial and settler colonial atrocities that are not condoned by Europe, that are not taught as national histories, and that are not even spoken about? Have these not been atrocities and genocides? Do I need to refer to the Holocaust to make the understanding of Palestinian suffering understandable? Isn’t that, again, linking Palestine to German Nazi Antisemitism, in yet another liberal way that will eventually bite us in the bottom and keep us within the same eurocentric logics? That’s the problem with Eurocentrism. 

Instead of understanding today’s Palestine as a reference to the afterlives of the Holocaust – through a eurocentric lens, which is historically and factually incomplete – we need to understand Palestine through the prism of European settler colonialism, where it was common to transfer people elsewhere to solve political problems at home, kill them or pretend – even if only in fantasy – that they do not exist (anymore). If we fail to do so we continue to serve European interests and its concomitant “memory politics”. 

Does your work receive attention in Germany? 

I wouldn’t say so. But again, if one is able to speak to a broader public as a Palestinian one is either the black cat in the matrix and vanishes very quickly again *laughs*, or else one already endorses the politics of the state, like Ahmad Mansour or liberal critiques that still praise Germany for its migration politics or its ostensible “lessons from the past”. And then, let’s not forget that being a woman talking politics is also not easy. Hence, being allowed to speak as a Palestinian in and from Germany in general says more about the politics you embrace than about whether your work reflects what is going on or not. Until the 2023-genocide started people who would have more power to shape public discourse on such matters were more interested in talking about German commemoration of Nazi-Antisemitism and memory politics, than about war and warring economies, settler colonialism, counterinsurgencies, and race in and beyond Europe. Although that’s all related, some people position these two fields as non-related. 

I think a lot of Palestinians here have the feeling of being invisible with our work, while being hypervisibilized as victims or agents of terror/antisemitism when it comes to us being torn apart in the media, or being barred from certain jobs or, as in Palestine, even barred from life. So this invisibility-hypervisibility-binary is nothing special I would say. That’s simply colonialism, many people are affected in the same way. That’s all I have to say. 

Thank you very much for your interest in my work and your time!

“Palestine isn’t going anywhere, and neither are we”

Interview with Jara Nassar about Berlin’s Camp for Gaza


19/04/2024

Could you start by telling us who you are and where you are currently politically active in?

My name’s Jara Nassar, I’m one of the organizers of the Occupy Against Occupation protest camp (Besetzung Gegen Besatzung) that is currently happening in front of the Bundestag, and that’s where I’m currently most active within the Palestine Solidarity movement.

Can you tell us how the Besetzung Gegen Besatzung Camp arose? And can you give us a bit of context around this initiative?

So, Besetzung Gegen Besatzung means “occupation against military occupation” and we’ve been protesting, marching, educating and organizing artistic interventions for six months now. There are people here who have been involved with Palestine for six months, some for three months, but some also for years. There’s been over one protest a day on average in Berlin for the last six months, ever since the newest aggression on Gaza and the genocide started, and it hasn’t been enough. This is an escalation of tactics to say, “okay, we’re taken the streets over and over and over again, and now we’re just going to not leave anymore and create a permanent disruption.”

The camp was initially set up for one day when Germany was before the ICJ. Now it’s been going on for over a week with no sign of stopping. What made you extend it?

Exactly that the idea of doing it for one day hasn’t been enough, and the idea that “Palestine isn’t going anywhere, and neither are we”. We planned our bodies to be moving in front of the Parliament to constantly remind them that this topic will not go away, that they’re complicit and even enabling genocide, and that the people know. It’s also been an amazing spot for people to come and find community and power.

What are you demanding?

Several different things. Our main demand is an immediate military embargo and an end to all weapons exports to Israel. Germany supplies almost half of Israel’s weapons imports, a share which has increased since October. And that just must stop. We demand an end to all the occupation. That includes also the occupied Golan Heights and part of occupied Lebanon. We also demand full application of human rights for all, so that means the implementation of right of return for all refugees. We also demand accountability for all parties complicit in war crimes, the genocide and the suffering of the Palestinian people. This includes the withdrawal of the SPD’s unjust resolution for politically motivated exmatriculation of students, and for Germany to stop criminalizing the solidarity movement.

What activities and actions are taking place in the camp?

We have political education, such as workshops, we’ve shown some documentaries, we have rallies and speeches. We’ve had an art installation that’s been running permanently since the start of the camp. But our focus is mostly on the political education.

Can you tell us more about this art installation?

It’s under the title “Life Ban from Gaza”, and it showcases the absurdity and the cruelty of the Israeli barricade on Gaza that has been going on for almost two decades now. And it has two parts. On one side we see everything Israel has banned from Gaza, and we also invite visitors to participate and contribute to that. It’s everything such as food and water, but also medicine and medical equipment, that Israel has blocked from entering Gaza, especially since the so-called total siege on the ninth. And also going back over the years, very basic things like shoes, doors, wedding dresses, these sorts of things that make it very clear that the blockade doesn’t have anything to do with Hamas or Palestinian resistance.

There’s one instance the CNN reported on when, this winter, a truck of aid was turned away because there were green sleeping bags in them and green is a military color so they claimed that they had a dual use. That was the reason why the entire truck was turned back, which is absurd and cruel. So once again, it’s not about the resistance, it’s about committing genocide against the population. And then on the other side of the installation is everything that Israel allows into Gaza. So we built some models of bombs and ammunition that is supplied by the US and Germany.

What are the best strategies to make the camp safe and mobilize people to come and join?

Well, I hope I know them. I can tell you what strategies we have been using. We’ve been mobilizing via social media, and through word of mouth. And to make the camp safe, we have 24 hour shifts, so there’s always someone here. The police are giving us a lot of arbitrary restrictions, for instance, completely forbidding the use of any language but German and English right before the evening prayers, during the last day of Ramadan. So, we do have to work with the police to keep to keep our participants safe. But mobilization has been quite good. There’s been hundreds of people here over the weekend. Literally hundreds.

How have the police reacted since the camp was set?

The police do not like us. They have been giving us plenty of arbitrary restrictions. So, as I just said, from one minute to the next, it’s completely prohibiting the use of any language except German and English, including music, prayers, and chants. So we can say “free Palestine”, but we can’t say Falestin hurrah, which is the same thing but in Arabic. And other arbitrary restrictions such as not allowing us to tie anything to the trees, making us move the tents every day but denying us space to set them back up again, etc.

Earlier today, we were asked to move a tent, we did it and then the cop came back again and said: “No, it has to be 20cm further to the right.” They’ve been patrolling and harassing people, so it’s been very difficult. Another thing they prevent us from using was our big tent, even though it’s perfectly legal and someone even called the Grunbauart to ask for permission. But once it was set up, the cops made us put it away again. It would be nice to have it back because it helps a lot against the wind, cold and rain.

What are the future perspectives of the camp? Do you think it’s going to materialize into some kind of umbrella movement for all the Palestine solidarity groups and organizations?

I mean, we hope so. We’ve already been seeing people from different groups and organizations, also from all over Germany, come and visit. And we hope that it brings our demands to the forefront of the political conversation, and we hope that it inspires others. So, please, if there’s someone in a different city, organize your own Besetzung Gegen Besatzung and show the German government that we are not going anywhere until they stop enabling genocide.

How do you think the German government is going to act in this escalation of repression after the ICJ and the ban of the Palestine Congress?

They’ve already been escalating and escalating. I was at the Palestine Congress and it was insane. Turning off the electricity for the entire building, or one of the police taking away the cover for his weapon being ready to pull his gun out. So we simply hope that there will be enough pressure from civil society and the international community to stop this repression within Germany, because I personally do not see the government changing course unless they are forced to.

What can we do to support the camp?

Come by. If you are in a different city, make your own camp and spread our demands and use them as a guideline for your actions, hold those in power accountable and divest from genocide. If you’re in Berlin, we’re always very happy about people bringing us tea and coffee, especially now when the weather is cold. So that’s a very practical thing you can do. And aside from that, you support us by supporting Palestine, that means to continue talking about Palestine, joining or organising a march, educating people.

Philharmonie Banner Drop

Statement on the banner drop and flyer-dispersal performed by activists at the lunchtime concert at the Berlin Philharmonie on 17/04/24


17/04/2024

The Philharmonie’s website boasts that “worldwide, there is no comparable relationship between an orchestra and a private business [as that between the Philharmonie and Deutsche Bank]”. Sadly, the use of the arts to launder the reputations of businesses and individuals who profit from war and genocide is nothing special, and Deutsche Bank’s use of the Philharmonie to do so cheapens the institution immeasurably.

It bears reminding that the West Bank settlements are a violation of international law, have been leveraged to separate the Palestinian communities of the West Bank from Jerusalem, and involve an application of apartheid law to that region. To finance, both directly and indirectly, human rights violations and breaches of international law, constitutes a sordid endorsement of these violations.

Despite claiming to be concerned about all civilian casualties in the conflict, Deutsche Bank continues to urge customers to invest in stock from Rheinmetall, an arms manufacturer that has provided components and systems demonstrably used in human rights violations and the collective punishment of civilians in the past six months.

We commend the Philharmonie for their statement, released in December in advance of a benefit concert, decrying the danger faced by civilians in the middle east. We also note that these words are, sadly, meaningless, and the money raised at this concert a drop in the ocean, when seen in the context of the politely-ignored weapons trade that financed this same concert and many more in the Philharmonie. Every time that a concertgoer sees the Deutsche Bank logo on a Philharmonie brochure, yet fails to think of brutal ethnic cleansing and arms dealing, the Philharmonie further cements its role as a decorative distraction from that brutality.

We recognise that the artists who played today do not necessarily represent the ideals of Deutsche Bank and that their identity and contribution to the arts extends far beyond the interests of Deutsche Bank. We call on the Philharmonie to straightforwardly divest from a company that profits from human rights violations. When seen alongside a willingness to launder the reputation of an institution mired in corruption and the death and repression of millions, the hypocrisy emanating from statements of empathy and wishes of peace is shameful.

How We Can Stop The AfD

The AfD intends to hold their party conference in Essen at the end of June. The anti-racist movement, which has gained traction in many areas, must also come together there

The AfD intends to hold their party conference in Essen at the end of June. The anti-racist movement, which has gained traction in many areas, must also come together there.

The time in which the AfD has been able to spread their inhumane propaganda unhindered in the open appears to be over. In every corner of Germany, resistance to the Right stirs. People are standing up en masse against racism and even more want to engage beyond assembly and protest. An important occasion thereto will be the AfD national party conference at the end of June in Essen.

The AfDfounded in 2013 as a Euroskeptical, national-conservative party, was no later than 2015 a far-right, partly-fascist partyhas since primarily worked on building a party founded in racism (especially Islamophobia). This has been fairly successful. After its establishment, the party fell just below the threshold for inclusion in the Bundestag at 4.7%. In the following European elections, that number was already above 7% and during state elections the party gained admission to all federal state parliaments.

Since the 2017 federal elections, the party has also been represented in the Bundestag. After many directional disputes, several more ‘moderate’, national-conservatives have left the party, leaving a party made up of fascists such as Björn Höcke, wrought with racism and fascist at its core.

An Anti-AfD Wake-up Call

Despite increasing mass anti-racist, pro-refugee protests in recent years, the AfD was not one of the movement’s central interests. By and large, the party could grow undisturbed.

That changed in January of this year after the agency Correctiv exposed—along with other racists and fascists—a group of high-ranking AfD officials’ plans. The meeting in question concerned, among other things, the party’s recent demands for deportation (‘remigration’) of all migrants living in Germany, further including any ‘non-assimilated’ German citizens. When met with public pressure the party attempted to downplay and distance themselves from the affair.

Member statements, however, get to the point. ‘We will send foreigners back home. By the millions. That is no secret. That is a promise,’ Bundestag member René Springer made clear after the findings became public. When asked, Björn Höcke claimed, ‘We will be able to live with 20 to 30% fewer people in Germany without issue, in fact, I find this ecological and even rational.’

The published findings had the working of a wake-up call on the population. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people in Germany have taken and continue to take to the streets to stand against the demands of the AfD. All over, participation exceeded estimated numbers. Rallies were ended prematurely over security concerns, entire city centres were brought to a standstill. Many individuals who had never been to such a demonstration took part.

Bringing Countermovement to the Streets

Many at these demonstrations hope that the problem can be solved by banning the AfD from government. There are arguments for doing so, but there are just as many against. Among other things, such a process takes years. Years, over which Nazis could reorganise. A past with the neofascist NPD shows that the ban process can fail to overcome many judicial hurdles, or simply because the state is made up in part of these groups’ informants.

The danger of a ban process is that protests could lose traction in favour of relying on state action. The protests are made of precisely what we need: a broad, antifascist movement on the streets.

Hitler himself said, ‘One thing alone could have stopped our movement—if our adversaries had understood their own principles and had from day one struck with all ruthlessness the core of our new movement.’

How the NPD Was Stopped

History shows being branded as Nazis means trouble for fascists. Confronted publicly with their own identity, they lose their temper and expose themselves.

The best example is the NPD, founded in the 1960s. At that time, many former DRP (Deutsche Reichspartei) Nazis assembled in the NPD, but remained hopelessly isolated. The NPD was to give them a respectable, national-conservative camouflage, that the German public fell for. Kiesinger, Chancellor at the time and former NSDAP member, certified the NPD as not fascist. Liberal paper Die Zeit warned against ‘denigrating the NPD as neonazis’. After its founding in 1964, the party recorded strong successes. Membership doubled. Following early success in 1966, the party acquired seats in seven federal state parliaments within 18 months. But come 1969, the NPD found itself in crisis. Contrary to expectations, they fell short of inclusion in the Bundestag and over the following years, membership shrunk to 6,000. What happened?

Adolf von Thadden, NPD party chairman at the time, later admitted that the 1968 loss of support could be traced back to, ‘cries for a ban, oppression of party assembly and increasing terrorisation’ from the Left. Wherever he went, he was greeted with the chant, ‘one Adolf was enough’; eggs, tomatoes, etc. were thrown at him. Nearly all public NPD events were disrupted in this manner. Conflicts at NPD rallies intensified. The party deployed its security service more frequently, which conducted itself like a paramilitary unit, in white helmets and armed with nightsticks. Attacks by these SS-like troops were included in the agenda. In Kassel a Nazi marshal fired shots at counter protesters. Images of the NPD security circulated the national and international press. The NPD was exposed. The national-conservative facade chipped away revealing the ugly grimace of fascism.

Direct Confrontation with Nazis

At every public appearance, Nazis must be shown that many not only reject their content but are also prepared to stand directly in their path to be demoralised. If Nazis cannot march, young members impressed by the feelings of power that come with rallying in particular grow discouraged. Even Goebbels recognised the threat of decisive confrontation by antifascists when he said, ‘If you allow even one single meeting to be broken up, people will stay away from you.’

Experiences in the 1970s, as the NPD again gained traction, showed anew that they could be weakened by a determined countermovement in the streets. Their 1977 ‘Deutschland-Treffen’ in Frankfurt gave the NPD cause for celebration as 5,000 members and only 1,000 counter protesters were in attendance. Those who wanted to stand in their way, however, grew quickly in number despite police bans. By 1978, the NPD was forced to divert to Frankfurt suburbs because thousands were prepared to hinder their rallies in the city centre. In 1970, 50,000 gathered in a counterprotest banned by police.

In 1997 up to 20,000 Munich residents occupied the city centre and prevented the largest Nazi march since the 1970s. The rally was interrupted and police escorted the Nazis back to their buses. As a result, numerous members withdrew from the NPD. Europe’s largest annual Nazi march in Dresden could also be stopped by mass antifascist blockades. A broad antifascist union called upon the nation to stand in Nazis’ way using this tactic. In 2010, 12,000 determined antifascists succeeded in blocking 6,000 Nazis. In 2011 it was 20,000 against 2,500. In 2013, only around 800 Nazis showed up.

Mass Mobilisation Against the AfD

These wins can be linked to broad alliances that confront fascists and racists head-on.

In the fight against fascism, it is necessary to form the largest possible union of workers and those who wish proactively stand in the path of fascists. This is true of the fight against the AfD. In light of the upcoming European elections we must disrupt each and every AfD info-booth, campaign event and rally with creative action and with as many people as possible. To do so, we need broad alliances that make it clear that racism and fascism have no place in our society.

In a capitalist economy, in which a minority exploits a large majority, the minority relies on racism to divert majority unrest toward scapegoats. New fascist organisations will always arise from environments of frustration with prevailing conditions and omnipresent racism. Antifascists can always fight back, but a prerequisite to a world without Nazis is a world without oppression and exploitation. As such, it is necessary to prioritise the establishment of socialist organisations today.

Save the Date: AfD Party Conference in Essen

The coalition, Essen Stellt Sich Quer, has already declared that they will not let the AfD national party conference on June 29th and 30th go by unchallenged. The nationally operating group, Aufstehen Gegen Rassismus, will also partake in disrupting the event. Further information in brief can be found here: Aufstehen gegen Rassismus

This article first appeared in German on the Sozialismus von Unten website. Translation: Shav McKay. Reproduced with permission

Germany speeds down one-way street, unable to change course

The repression against last weekends Palestine Congress has shown Germany’s true face.


16/04/2024

The Palestine congress that was to take place in Berlin on the weekend of April 12-14 was banned by the police. The “reason”: they may be showing antisemitic content, may call for violence against Jews, or may deny the Holocaust. The real reason: Israel and its defense are above all else, including freedoms in this country. Citizens and associations are now rejoicing at the fact that the congress, during which it was planned to discuss the situation in Gaza and Germany’s complicity in the genocide, has finally been banned. However, these same groups will also be silenced by the repressive state apparatus and its propagandistic press in the not too distant future when they step out of the line of thought set by the authorities, as the history of this very country has taught us.

The German state is overstepping too many democratic boundaries in repressing solidarity with Palestine and crossing over into authoritarianism. The right to assembly, demonstration, freedom of speech and press are being attacked and diminished in its frantic and erratic fight against antisemitism. In this desperate struggle to make amends for its genocidal past, Jewish activists and associations are being cancelled, arrested and criminalized, while far-right anti-Semitic politicians like Björn Höcke of Alternative for Germany are invited to TV debates, where he claims that antisemitism is imported and that borders must be closed. His discourse is resonating with a large part of German society, which has decided to make amends for the Holocaust by shedding Palestinian blood.

This repression and antisemitic mass hysteria has the German government and a good part of society in its grip – a part that ignores and/or whitewashes the horrors and atrocities that Israel has been committing in Palestine for 76 years. The hysteria culminated yesterday with the boycott of the Palestinian congress in Berlin on Friday, April 12th, the day it was supposed to begin. Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta, rector at the University of Glasgow and a surgeon in Gaza who was invited as a speaker at the conference, was barred from entering Germany and after the police raided the conference hall. Three people were arrested, two of them Jewish. The disproportionality of the action borders on the comical, as the police entered the room, cut the electricity and banned the attendees from live streaming their actions, just a couple of hours after forcing the organizers to allow the Zionist press to enter in the name of freedom of speech.

On Saturday, after Friday’s events, far from backing down, the German government has banned all political activity in Germany in person and by zoom to the former Greek Minister of Economy and member of Mera25, Varoufakis. Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser declared about the congress that never happened, “Anyone who spreads Islamist propaganda and hatred against Jews must know that he will be prosecuted quickly and consistently.” In the same vein, the police today in Germany are thought police, criminalizing ideas that are uncomfortable to them before they are even expressed. Germany does not seem to realize how ridiculous it is making itself on a world level, becoming the parody of the authoritarian regime of the last century that the world has in mind when this country is mentioned.

The police presence in the capital during the weekend of the congress, with troops brought from the rest of the country makes clear the position of the authorities: any criticism of Israel, its policies or German complicity with the genocide will be criminalized and silenced at all costs. But the costs are not only the rights and freedoms in this country, it is the international image of Germany that is showing the world its true racist, white supremacist and genocidal face. Germany’s position as the cradle of humanism and defender of human rights is being tainted not only by its Nazi past, but also by its authoritarian and repressive present.