Germany’s repression of the Palestine solidarity movement increases even further

As racism grows in Germany, politicians and the police are more interested in attacking anyone protesting against genocide in Gaza


For almost 8 months now, repression has increased in the pressure cooker that is Germany. The extreme right grows unabashed, and on the eve of the European elections, different positions are taken. Politicians, the media, the police and a large part of German society are more offended by people shouting ‘Free Palestine’ in a televised genocide – than by people partying on a high-class tourist island chanting ‘Foreigners out, Germany for Germans’.  These latter were making the Nazi salute with one hand and wearing Hitler’s ridiculous little moustache with the other. The incident was uploaded to social media by the participants themselves. Although it has created controversy around it, more old videos and imitators chanting the same thing have emerged all over the country. Clearly racist slogans are safely spoken and uploaded to their networks.

The strategy of the government and the media, both public and private, is twofold. To misinform, underreport or not to report at all. Furthermore to increasingly target activists, linking the pro-Palestinian movement to violent antisemitism and jihadist terrorism. An increasing number of stories in the press and on television single out activists  by name, and if possible by their social media accounts and places of work.

In fact, it is not only known activists who are targeted, but anyone who shows solidarity with Palestine solidarity.

A few weeks ago the students of the misnamed Free University of Berlin camped there. This followed students around the world, and the camp-out, in which many of them had participated in front of the German parliament. The university presidency immediately sent in the police. Riot police trucks closed off access to that part of the campus, separating the camped students off from the people who came to support them. That included the many students and professors coming out of the first hour of classes. They closed the cafeteria, from which the police action could be seen, and sent the teachers either home or to their offices. The police then evicted and detained the students with extreme violence and without prior provocation. The presidency wants to open a file on them and follow with ex-matriculation. This is at the same university, which now honours Rudi Dutschke, having demonised him in his life. Using the same arguments now to attack its students, shows that history is repeating itself.

The night of the eviction of the camp, horrified by the attack on the students, hundreds of professors from various universities signed a letter of support for the students. Not for their cause per se, which is to stop the genocide and all economic and academic links of the university with Israel, as well as to acknowledge the colonialist past of this country. More out of concern that it is within their job to protect their students. The signatories were publicly condemned by Federal Minister of Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger of the Free Democratic Party (FDP). The Minister called the statement ‘shocking’ and accused them of ‘trivialising violence’.  Later Bild, Germany’s best-selling newspaper, a racist, right-wing tabloid, published the names and places of work of all the teachers and the picture of some of them on its front page. It include a Palestinian teacher who has lost family members in Gaza.

In the face of this police brutality the student union took a stand in favour of police action, calling for some ‘restrictions’. Der Spiegel reports: “‘The pro-Palestinian demands are again and again supplemented by propagandistic disinformation. An actively anti-Israeli attitude prevails, characterised by widespread antisemitic rhetoric,’ says Debora Eller, fzs expert on anti-fascism, anti-racism and emancipation. For example, the suffering of the people of the Gaza Strip is also being instrumentalised for ‘antisemitic incitement’ during university protests.’ This shows that even the young people of this country are not immune to the one-size-fits-all thinking imposed by the government.

Society was again divided, the political class in general wants to continue the politically motivated ex-matriculations, which endangers the residence permit of thousands of students in this country. Since then, however, encampments rose on dozens of German campuses, including universities of Frankfurt, Cologne, Bonn, Munich and others. some of which were evicted, but others remain. None have managed to stop their university from collaborating with Israel.

At a press conference called by the government on Tuesday 21 May, Michael Wildt, a renowned Holocaust scholar who was a signator of the open letter in ‘Bild’, calls for debate not policing: “Anyone who now demands mainly repressive measures is paving the way for an authoritarian conception of the state”. Clemens Arzt, a professor at the Berlin School of Economics and Law, warned against restricting the right to freedom of assembly, and saw no legal justification for the eviction of the Free University camp.

Berlin students, without missing a beat, last week occupied a building of the Humbold University, and renamed it the Jabalia Institute. The administration negotiated. After 30 hours of occupation, the administration promised the people in the building that there would be no repercussions if they left. Calling this a lack of ‘forcefulness’ on the part of university president Julia von Blumenthal, Berlin’s SPD senator for science, health and care, Ina Czyborra, and CDU`s mayor Kai Wegner demanded that the police clear the building. ‘Our universities are places of knowledge and critical discourse, not lawless spaces for antisemites and terror sympathisers,’ Wegner tweeted. With riot police sent in from other federal states, the police presence for the 150  people inside the building, and 200 outside, was comically excessive. Blocks of central Berlin were cut off by rows of police trucks. Warned that there was at least one accredited journalist, a lawyer and medical personnel inside the building to treat the wounded, videos show that, in true Israeli style, the police went after the press, the medical and legal personnel. These people were among the first to be arrested.

There was bloodshed that day, including that of the journalist Ignacio Rosaslanda of the Berliner Zeitung. In a video recorded by himself, he can be seen being attacked by the police. Rosaslanda claims that the police denied him medical attention for hours. It has to be said, that we have only the testimonies of the arrested students, as the police conveniently turned off their cameras during the eviction.

The Berlin authorities have also closed down day centres Alia and Phantalisa. They were especially important for migrant and lgtbia+ teenage girls. All the workers on the street were left on the street, because some showed solidarity with Palestinians in demonstrations and on the networks. The dismissal letters mention giving likes to posts in solidarity with Palestine and sharing posts on Instagram stories with the phrase ‘From the river to the sea’. It now looks like the authorities are keeping an eye on more centres and their staff.

The demonisation of students, social workers, teachers and anyone who steps out of line with the established Israel is Germany´s raison d’état is constant and increasingly violent. The police rarely let a demonstration reach the end of its route without arrests and lately even bloodshed. This feeds back into the press which classifies the demonstrators as violent antisemitic nutcases. Articles are then used to try to ban events and demonstrations and close social centres, due to the participation of workers in these demonstrations. Letters announcing the bans on demonstrations and the closure of the centres quote these articles, sometimes literally. The state, its bureaucratic institutions, the armed forces and its press function like a machine in perfect continuous feedback motion. The sole function is to crush all criticism.

This is creating a two-headed monster: One the release of guilt for the holocaust from the German people, because now the new Nazi genocidal people are the Palestinians, and the problem of anti-Semitism is imported, something extremely dangerous in a country where an Alternative for Germany politician, Maximilian Krah, recently claimed that not everyone in the SS was guilty. And xenophobia in general, Islamophobia in particular, and especially against Palestinians is being not only tolerated by the state, but encouraged, with a majority of Germans now finding Islam one of the main threats in this country. This is why violence on the streets against Jews and Arabs is on a dangerous rise, but contrary to what the media whips up, the perpetrators are mostly white Germans, both civilians and police, and not foreigners.