News from Berlin and Germany, 18th October 2023

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



“Free Palestine” banned

The war in Israel and Gaza was felt once more on the streets of Berlin. A pro-Palestinian demonstration by the association “Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East”, registered last Saturday, was banned. As the board member Iris Hefets explained, she stood on Hermannplatz with a poster that read: “As a Jew and an Israeli: stop the genocide in Gaza”. The police tried to prevent her from doing so, but Hefets insisted that “as an individual, she has the fundamental right to freedom of expression”. In the end, she was able to hold up her sign. Source: taz

Police break up protest in Neukölln again

Police acted against crowds in Berlin-Neukölln in connection with the Middle East conflict. According to a police spokeswoman, up to 150 people gathered on Sonnenallee. The atmosphere was heated. Pyrotechnics were set off and bottles were thrown, the spokesperson said. The pro-Palestinian network Samidoun shared a video showing people waving Palestinian flags. Since the attack on Israel, pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been repeatedly announced – and banned – in Berlin. The police justify this with security concerns. Some see an encroachment on freedom of expression. Berlin’s police chief, Barbara Slowik, said the police would continue to be on the move with strong forces. Source: tagesschau

Police apparently surprised by massive mobilisation

Berlin police were apparently surprised by the mobilisation to the Palestinian demonstration last Sunday evening, at Potsdamer Platz. Around 50 demonstrators were enrolled for the evening, but soon there were more than a thousand demonstrators. An experienced police officer said she had never experienced such a dynamic influx. The Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) said, “We have many families of Arab origin in the city who want nothing to do with Hamas. We must not forget that.” They would also give signals that they are trying to influence against extremist aspirations. Spranger stressed, “We have to do massive education in day-care centres and schools.” Source: Spiegel

Sanders in Berlin

Last Thursday, Bernie Sanders, the American Senator who almost single-handedly reawakened the American left, was in Berlin, talking about his new book: ‘It is OK to be angry about Capitalism’. In the run-up, there had been some uproar over Sander’s statement on the attacks in Israel. He stated again that what Hamas had done was despicable and set back the peace process. He went on; Israel had the right to react rigorously to the attacks, but he hoped that the children in Gaza could be spared. With the attacks, extremists on both sides who believe in violence are now on the rise, and that is a tragedy. Source: taz

Berlin slips again in digitisation ranking

In a comparison of the “smartest” cities in Germany, Berlin has once again slipped down the ranking. In the “Smart City Index 2023”, of the digital association Bitkom, the capital is currently only in 24th place – down from 11th in 2022. Two years ago, Berlin was still among the top ten. This year, the German capital achieved a total of 71 out of 100 points in the current ranking. For the current index, Bitkom evaluated data on all 81 cities with at least 100,000 inhabitants. Among the various areas, Berlin performed best in mobility, getting the 4th place. Source: rbb



More prejudice, more violence and growing fear

Anti-Semitism is a growing problem in Germany. The war in Middle East exacerbates it. The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) expects therefore a wave of anti-Semitic protests against Jewish institutions and synagogues. The federal government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, also fears that anti-Israeli tendencies could grow, especially in schools. According to the German Teachers’ Association, anti-Semitism is on the rise. This is also confirmed by Samuel Salzborn, Berlin’s anti-Semitism commissioner. Not only is “Jew” a widespread swear word in schools, but hatred of Israel has also increased significantly in schools over the last ten to 15 years. Source: deutschlandfunk

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations: under general suspicion

How can Palestinians in Germany actually take to the streets the demand that Israel, in its response to the Hamas massacres of civilians, should in turn spare civilians? In recent days, numerous demonstrations by Palestinians have been banned, with reference to possible anti-Semitic and inciting statements. These have undoubtedly taken place; nevertheless, it is wrong to infer a general suspicion from this. In view of what is currently happening in Gaza and what is threatened, Palestinians also have reason to be afraid, to mourn and to demand support from the international community. Source: nd-aktuell

Musk shares AfD election call and exchanges blows with German foreign ministry

US multi-billionaire Elon Musk took on Annalena Baerbock’s (B90/ Greens) foreign ministry on “X” (formerly Twitter) on Friday 29 September, sharing a call to vote for the Alternative for Germany (AfD). The post linked to a video by the propaganda account “Radio Genoa” which spread the racist conspiracy narrative that the German government was supporting the NGO Sea Rescue in bringing about a ‘European suicide’. “Let’s hope that the AfD wins the elections,” the post continues. Radio Genoa uses vocabulary based on the racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy narrative of the “Great Population Exchange”, widely used by right-wing extremists. Source: FR

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