“Palestinians and non-Palestinians need to reclaim Berlin and Germany together”

Interview with Majed Abusalama (Palästina Spricht), activist and researcher from Gaza.


Hi Majed. Thanks for talking to us. For people who don’t know you, could you let them know who you are?

Yes. I am Majed Abusalama. I’m a Palestinian from Jabalia refugee camp in the North of Gaza. Jabalia has been under one of the most massive carpet bombardments, extermination, and mass murders, one block after the other. Most recently, 143 members of the Salem family, who were our neighbors for decades, and my extended family, the AbuUlba family of 70+ people are under the rubble at the moment of writing this article. Jabalia was not only known for fertile soil and citrus trees, but was also fertile with the history of refugees resisting the Israeli colonial power. The first Intifada started there in December 1987, as a spontaneous uprising and collective rage after the death of four Palestinian workers whose car was hit by an Israeli truck driver. Jabalia is like Palestine – it’s not only the largest refugee camp in all of Palestine, but it is as well an idea, it is like the big brother of the other refugees camps, therefore it has played the most integral part of the Palestinian struggle for liberation and return.

I have lived in Berlin and Germany for about eight years, after I managed to escape the brutality of the Gaza military blockade, after wishing to live a normal life free of drones and polluted water with 24/7 electricity and some kind of safety which every human should deserve. But we know western imperialism is selective about that and the German state and its institutions especially is not interested in providing safety and normal lives to over 300,000 Palestinians: the largest Palestinian community in Europe who reside in Berlin. Therefore, I felt morally responsible to bring people together and organize to resist anti-Palestinian racism. I became involved in multiple levels in the migrant movement in Berlin. I’m one of the co-founders of Palästina Spricht, the Coalition for Palestinian rights and against racism, and the Ani-colonial Alliance. Before that I was a member of the Humboldt Three, where we took Israel to court in Germany and fought against the Zionist lobby, the Berlin Senate, and Humboldt University, who were complicit in hosting a war criminal, Aliza Lavie, who organised the attack on Gaza in 2014. We won that court case.

What’s the situation like in Gaza now? How are your friends and family?

This is one of the hardest questions to answer at the moment. It’s beyond a genocide, it is the most painful to watch from afar, 93 days after and feeling helpless, sleepless, and tired. It’s a never-ending nightmare, it’s beyond suffering, it’s beyond starvation, it’s beyond bombing, it’s beyond forced displacement and ethnic cleasing, it’s beyond collective punishment, it’s beyond targeting and killing any Palestinians, using all the technical weaponry possible, it is beyond wiping out Palestine and the Palestinians. It is a war against the idea of Palestine. Yesterday [10th December], my mom finally managed to leave Gaza, after 65 days. The rest of my family is still in Gaza, my sick old father, Ismail, my brother Mohammed, his wife, Asmaa, and my two nieces, Eleaa, and Naya. I am heartbroken to watch them from far and not feel that I could do more than organizing actions. It is important what are we acting, and we must escalate the pressure and develop more concrete and effective mechanisms to disrupt the global infrastructure. We are the only hope, when Western politicians are not only complicit, but they are blocking any way to stop the genocide. But also, they whitewash Israeli crimes against humanity and justify a “self-defense” for a colonial power in the Global South. It is ridiculous world we live in, but history will judge.

People from below, and grassroots communities, people of the Global South, Jews worldwide, and some of the largest demonstrations in history have been happening for over three months. Not only to stop the genocide and call for a ceasefire – people are also waking up to the fascist infrastructure which they live within and decolonzing it, same as in Berlin where many collectives and individuals are coming together from the art, culture, film, education, and others to make a resistance front to German imperialism and repression of Palestine. Of course, people are resisting for collective liberation and Gaza is the school of unlearning nowadays for many of those who want to unlearn whiteness and resist capitalism and imperialism. In Gaza, despite the strong local resistance, we must remember that they’re fighting one of the most militarized nations in the planet. It is not only fighting Israel, but they’re also fighting Germany. German Special Forces are intervening from a base in Cyprus and support Israeli colonial forces at any time needed. The USA increased funding by about $14 Billion. The UK has sent drones and is helping the surveillance of our community. The people who were forced to evacuate are the target of Germany, the UK, USA, and other countries’ weapons. The Western arms industry is one of the biggest beneficiaries of this genocide.

Israel put a huge killing mechanism to strongly intimidate the people out of Gaza City and the North of Gaza, mainly Jabalia Refugee Camp, where half a million people were living. But half of the refugee camp and its surrounding did not follow the Israeli forces orders and preferred to stay in their homes, while referring to another Nakba which they did not want to allow to happen as in 1948. 80% of people in Gaza are refugees and the ancestors of refugees, who have experienced ethnic cleansing and persecution and exploitation of their resources and everything they have lived, and have been living for decades under the Israeli settler colonial regime. They were faced with the images of starting from zero again in another refugee camp with a tent – they don’t want to do it again and repeat their grandparents’ experiences when they were promised to return and never returned. They are not willing to leave and happy willing to pay any price for the idea of Palestine and being a Palestinian.

If you look at the North of Gaza, which has been under military blockade and carpet bombing, and heavy clashes with Israeli air and land forces for weeks, it is clear that people didn’t want to leave and are willing to resist any attempt to enter the heart of the refugee camp. This made Israel crazily bomb the North of Gaza and Jabalia refugee camp, and impose huge restrictions on the entrance of food. They are bombing housing blocks where thousands of people have been killed, and hundreds of families have been wiped out, and 93 days after, the Israeli forces are not managing to enter the camp because of the young peoples’ resistance and power to respond with their local weapons and persistence.

Our experience of Israeli power shows that no place is safe. Israel military announcements said that the middle and South of Gaza would be safer. But Israel has never stopped bombing the South of Gaza after the so-called ceasefire. The situation is hard to endure or comprehend. But the resistance is a threat to the imperialists’ colonial capitalist infrastructure. It’s playing a huge role in the liberation not only of Palestine but everyone in the Global South. The Palestinian resistance has managed to give a crash course in Palestinian history to millions in the Global South, and worldwide, especially the new generations of TikTok and others who are at the forefront of virtual resistance online, supporting the Palestinian struggle for liberation and dismantling all Zionist trolls online, it is virtual decolonizing.

Some people in Germany are very reluctant to use the term genocide about what’s happening in Gaza now. What would you say to them?

Of course it’s genocide. Raz Segal, a Jewish Israeli historian called it a textbook example of genocide. Multiple UN law experts, the UN committee against racial dominations, and many human rights organizations have been speaking about more than a genocide. Israel never fails to surprise the world with their way of manufacturing and inventing ways of extreme repression. Any sane person, with any education, can read or watch and realize the impact of settler colonialism and see Israeli apartheid face to face. Any person can watch the images of Gaza and see more than a genocide. We even receive only 20% of what is actually happening in Gaza today after Israel killed more than 100 journalists, and most human rights organizations cannot access the strip because Israel is controlling everything in and out of Gaza!!

We don’t need to wait for Western powers to recognise genocide. Germany only recognised the Herero genocide in Namibia in 2021, almost 100 years after it happened. Western powers have never given us access to terminologies like genocide like they do with Ukraine. Everything is compared to Ukraine. We witness the hypocrisy and double standards of the Western so-called white nations that are built on selective humanity. We are looking for liberation and equality, which is not profitable in their opinion.

It took the ICC 10 years and they’re still not able to open an investigation against Israeli crimes against humanity and apartheid, now the South African State filed a complaint to the ICJ, and we see no Western country supported it. With Ukraine, everything, every file, experts were sent to support the ICC teams, and the complaint was open within less than one year. It’s the naked hypocrisy that we continuously witness and speak against but falls on the deaf ears of mainstream right wing politicians who clearly say that our right to life is not as important to them as those who are considered to be “white blood” or in the German context “Aryan”, Übermenschen. As people from the Global South, we see complete ignorance, complete betrayal, complete silence on Palestine and exploitation of all the Global South. They are not only standing next to the oppressor and the coloniser but they are our sub-colonizer and oppressor, they are part of the a whole Western imperialism which calls itself “civilized” but everything they did and are still doing is completely criminal, inhumane, and uncivilized, to mention some: in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Congo, Sudan, and the list is long.

I have never trusted the Western imperialist powers to give us justice, because they have never offered us justice. The only so-called justice that they offered Palestinians was Oslo, which was rejected by the majority of the Palestinians except some elite leaders who chose to become complicit and provide a sub-colonial liberal administration to the Israeli state without any sovereignty or any sense of liberation and decolonization. Since Oslo, settler enterprises have been increasing. Israel has used the colonial system to put us into Bantustans in the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestine is the current ongoing genocide, but before it was Iraq. There have also been lies about Syria. Every time a war happens, Germany is profiting with their weapons industry. Germany is overtaking Japan to become the third largest economy in the planet, a race over money not humanity. This is how racial capitalism is playing a huge role in the imperial divide and conquer and the new colonial ways of managing the Global South and the Palestinians in historic Palestine.

Wait 100 years, and maybe in 2123, Germany will admit that there was a genocide in Gaza..

I don’t trust Germany. I have lived in Germany, and been tortured and brought to court and brutally attacked by the police. I have been arrested and detained multiple times for being a Palestinian and fighting against the weaponisation of antisemitism to silence and censor the voice of Palestinians, who have been made invisible and intimated for decades.

I don’t think Germany is ready to learn or unlearn, because if they’re ready to learn, they would work on antisemitism from within the German State, on the more than 80% of antisemitic incidents which are performed by white Germans. Their Eurocentric, and German-centric way of looking at the rest of migrants or all the others is racist at the core, sadly, but it is the truth.

Therefore, I do not accept, and everyone must refuse that the German state and politicians will keep importing their antisemitism nationwide problem, and impose it on migrants, People of Colour, and people from the Global South, and especially Palestinians, because they are not willing to deal with their own Neo-Nazis and racism, and with their own whiteness. The thought that they’re still kind of the master race should completely be dismantled. Only fascists believe that they are better creatures. What kind of world are they living in?

They treat us as if they are morally superior on this, but they are not. They have stood on the wrong side of history all the time from Namibia, to Israel, to their many interventions in Africa, where their imperialist thinking has cost hundreds of thousands of lives throughout the Global South.

So, of course we don’t trust them. They are enabling genocide. German politicians failed to call for a ceasefire. It took them 60 days to start to call for humanitarian aid to come in. They have treated us as less than Untermenschen. Today, Germany is putting minority communities at risk because of their way of trying to be more morally superior and say they know who’s the real antisemite. But they have no courage to look at themselves in the mirror.

It’s impossible, particularly in Germany, to talk about the bombing of Gaza without mentioning October 7th. As someone from Gaza what what’s your take on what happened then?

October 7th reminds me of 75 years of ongoing slow genocide and ethnic cleansing, of mass invasions, aggressions and blockades, and many harsh and brutal dehumanizations that Palestine has had to go through. It also reminds me of the role of the Israeli settler colonial apartheid regime.

I’m really sorry for all innocent people have been who have been killed throughout the last 75 years of Zionist forces in Palestine. For me, the enemy of everyone – Jewish, Palestinian, or others, are the settler colonial apartheid regimes, which allow these extreme tensions to be there, through extreme injustice and inequality. My enemy is the German anti-Palestinian repression which survives through increasing the polarization between Jews, Palestinians, and others.

October 7th was a day in which Indigenous and oppressed people in Palestine felt that they could liberate Palestine. But I was also very scared about what was going to happen afterwards.

I still blame settler colonial apartheid regime, and especially the Zionist militia, for the polarisation. Colonial powers have played games to convince people that killing and slaughtering Palestinians is fair and just. This is a narrative which deprives people of their humanity and their history as ancestors of Holocaust survivors who paid a huge price during World War Two. Israeli is making hundreds of thousands of young 18-year-olds monsters, killers, and colonisers, and has brainwashed them to justify the mass murder, genocide, and extermination of Palestinians. Israel is dehumanising teenagers at an early stage and using them as killing machines.

Following the destruction of Gaza, people who were previously silent on Palestine have said we’ve got to do something. And yet despite large demonstrations, our governments are ignoring us. So what can people do to help Gaza?

Many white people have woken up, but not enough. In demonstrations in Germany, there have been few compared to those from the Global South., If you look at Berlin, where there are 5 million people, the largest demonstrations were between 40,000 and 50,000. And 70% or 80% on the demo were People of Colour and from the Global South.

Western Germany has not accepted Palestinian refugees at all, and completely repressed them to not speak about Palestine at all. We have been made completely invisible and unrecognised. They don’t even want to recognise us – as a Palestinian, my ID is XXA, which means unrecognised.

They don’t want to know that there are more than 300,000 of us in Germany, because if we are accountable then we will know our power. They know that we will not surrender to accepting settler colonial violence and an apartheid regime on our land or in Germany even if they drafted hundreds of laws. We will not surrender to throw away the right of return or the complete menu of liberation.

In my opinion, despite some polls that say that most Germans are standing with Palestine, Germans have been mainly silent and the German state and media have silenced and intimidated them on the topic of Palestine. Germans are paralysed, but younger Germans are less paralysed and thousands of them are joining our movement for Palestine and don’t want to be whitewashed or intimidated by their past learning in schools. They want to be critical and decolonize themselves. Look at London, look at other cities. Paris is the same size of Berlin. I think the demos in Berlin are great, I’m thankful and grateful. It’s the work of our collective liberation that everyone who wants to be on the right side of history should push and be an activist for Palestine and for other causes aimed at dismantling imperialist and colonial powers and racist capitalism.

Try and stop the companies who are complicit in crimes against humanity in Palestine, and in Iraq and Syria. Stop every arms trade company – the arms industry is the main sponsor of wars and genocide and we should erase it now. The weapons are being tested on our bodies. Our job is to work from within to liberate Palestine and the Global South from Germany and to stop the German state. We see how complicit the whole European and German spectrum is – in Germany there is no difference between the Linke, CDS, SPD, Greens, and AfD when it comes to Palestine. They are all united against Palestine, and against human rights and justice for Palestinians. The German Green Party is greenwashing colonialism and capitalism, the white imperial environmentalists are colonising the party which is completely excluding Palestine from their politics and threatening anyone to speak for Palestine as a green, environmental, and climate justice cause.

I hope that everybody can engage, I think we all must engage today because the far Right is expanding. Germany is very much at risk from the AfD and the growing neo-Nazi groups. As a person of colour, migrant, and Palestinian, I am scared, and it is scary because attacks against migrants are at a peak. And the German state prefers to speak about their own version of antisemitism, rather than about attacks on migrants or anti-Muslim racism or any other discrimination.

We all have a duty to push back and decolonize ourselves, and to learn new ways of engaging, and to unlearn all this whitewashing which the past generations of white Germans have been exposed to since school. Together we can fight and decolonise Palestine, to liberate Palestine and to liberate ourselves as well.

Berlin is one of the European cities with the most migrants. Germany has more migrants than most other countries in Europe. We need to make Berlin and Germany a safer decolonised space for Palestinians and non-Palestinians soon. We need to reclaim the city now, and today. We need to reclaim the country now and today. It’s a long road, but I’m very hopeful that we can do it.

One final question. Your sister Shahd, who lives in Britain, has been very active in sabotaging the arms company Elbit. Do you think that such a campaign is possible in Germany?

Everything is possible. We must escalate our actions in all directions at any cost. Every action of resistance against this establishment is legitimate. German arms companies have been involved in many different crimes against humanity, including settlements in Palestine. The German multinational Heidelberg Cement is complicit in Palestine, have been involved in a number of grave international law violations, which may amount to war crimes. German banks have supported the expansion of Israeli settlements. Germany has a huge power in Europe. I think if we are organised and if we have enough people who are courageous enough to put their privilege into supporting our collective liberation movement, we can do it. I have faith in the people, if I don’t, I wouldn’t be doing this interview, and organising for decades for Palestine and other cause.

We can block train stations. We can block arms companies and close factories in the same way that the Elbit actions have done, or in the same way which people in Genoa and Napoli harbours have been blocking the transportation of arms to Israel.

We can see that our liberation is connected to everybody’s liberation. We all have a responsibility to see how our taxes are being used, and we all have to test our values in relation to the people in Palestine and everywhere. Everyone deserves a fair human life.

If other people can do it, we can do it. The revolution is now and today. We all must jump in this ark.