We were not born in a prison and you will not put us in one

Speech from the Nakba Day commemoration gathering, 20th May 2023, by Majda


This is the text of a speech from the Nakba Day commemoration gathering on the 20th of May 2023, by Majda. The text has had minor edits for clarity, but is being reproduced here in its original format as a speech.

Germany, you outdid yourself.

You outdid yourself this time, and not for the first time.

You outdid yourself in your own so-called Wilkommenskultur, in bringing over cheap migrant labour, us, to whom your Wilkommenskultur is served as no more and no less than Ordnung muss sein (there must be order).

You outdid yourself in bringing over us, “the others”, only to bring us to order, only to integrate us in your likeness, to assimilate us so we become to your taste.

You outdid yourself in crashing us when we refused to be in your likeness, when we refused to be to your taste, when we refused to dance to your music.

You outdid yourself in crashing us when we wanted to be us, when we wanted to mourn our dead, our martyrs in Palestine, to mourn our lost homeland, our lost land, our lost way of living with other human beings and with nature, the beautiful nature of Palestine.

You outdid yourself, Germany, in your violence, your suppression and oppression. You outdid yourself in siding with the oppressors and turning against the oppressed.

Us, the oppressed, your new Gastarbeiter*innen, brown and black, queer and non-queer, Palestinians, Syrians, Algerians, Sahrawis, the non-conforming to the German-Israeli narrative anti-Zionist Jews, Kurds, Sudanese, Armenians, people of Afghanistan, Latinas, Tamils… the list goes on.

You outdid yourself in asking us to be good girls and good boys, not to “import antisemitism”, as if it there was a deficit of it here, in asking us to carry your guilt so that with time we arrive closer to being “civilised”, so that we are allowed to eat at your table and enjoy the full benefits of your “democracy”.

In the meantime, we are to shut up, we are to put our heads down and to work. We are to speak only when asked to, otherwise we are to remain silent and to make ourselves invisible, and we are not to march 15,000 non-white people through the streets of Berlin as we did on the Nakba Day two years ago.

We are not to scream our lungs out when our people are being killed by the Israeli regime, again and again, day after day. Nor when our children are maimed and imprisoned by this regime, and especially not when our political prisoners defy it with their hunger strikes. We are not to resist the Israeli occupation, aggression and oppression.

We are not to call a spade a spade, we are not to call an apartheid an apartheid, we are not to call the Israeli apartheid the Israeli apartheid. This, because “it is not helpful in the German context”, because of “the special relation” – we’ve heard this bullshit, this wack talk, millions of times. We are not to name names.

Or yes, we are to name names only when you, Germany, allow it. It’s ok, it’s allowed, to name names when crimes against humanity are being committed in Ukraine or in Syria by the Syrian regime and its killing machine – which we applaud you for. But it’s the same universal jurisdiction, simply justice, which you, Germany, do not want to apply to crimes committed by the Israeli regime and its killing machine against the Palestinian people — then, we are not to name names.

We must break it to you, Germany: you asked for workers, you got people instead. We, the workers, your “Gastarbeiter*innen”, we were not born in a prison and you will not put us in one — a prison of silence, a prison of orders and your Ordnung, a prison of visas and Aufenthaltstitel, a prison of press censorship on Palestine, a prison of silence and of invisibility.

We Palästinenser*innen, we Arbeiter*innen, we are free — free people. And Palestine is free. It is already free in our hearts, and it will be free, from the river to the sea.