The Palestine Conference and Die Linke: Those who stay silent are complicit

Die Linke once again fails to show solidarity with Palestine. The party cannot give state repression a free pass


It is a disgrace that no position against the banning of the Palestine Conference, against the repression of Palestine solidarity, and against the closure of two centers for girls and women, was taken at Die Linke’s Berlin state party congress on April 27th. Based on dubious formal arguments, the motions committee recommended that delegates should not consider motions on this matter. Unfortunately, the majority accepted these arguments.

Members of Die Linke who want to contribute to the opposition against the bombing of Gaza, the starvation blockade and the expulsion of Palestinians and who want to broaden the movement, as well as all those who oppose the repression of the Palestine movement, should not allow their mouths to be shut and should become active now.

Die Linke and Palestine solidarity in Germany

The state party congress took place in Berlin on April 27th. Members from various district organizations, particularly from Neukölln and Mitte, where there are clear grounds for resolutions on Palestine, submitted a motion that called on the Berlin organization and the parliamentary group to oppose the massive state repression and the unjustified, seemingly illegal, police measures taken against the organizers and participants of the Palestine Congress and against comrades and left-wing structures in Berlin who show solidarity with Palestine.

The motion called on the party and parliamentary group to commit to ending the stigmatization of the movement and to reviewing and lifting bans against Palestine Congress participants’ entry and activity in Germany.

In view of the pervasive bans against the use of spaces by Palestine solidarity campaigns, the motion called on Die Linke to “not only protect, but also facilitate spaces for left-wing and migrant self-organization, for example in the Tempelhof, Wedding and Neukölln districts. Locations for intercultural feminist social work with girls and young people and employees within them, for example in the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, must be protected from arbitrary repression, harassment and closure by the district council.”

The escalation of the repression

This motion was necessary because Die Linke Berlin – with the exception of individuals or party branches such as the Neukölln and Mitte district organization – had not taken a militant stance against the massive repression of the Palestine Congress and of a protest camp in front of the Bundestag.

Prominent party members, such as former senators and parliamentary group members Klaus Lederer and Elke Breitenbach, had even signed the appeal of the so-called “Alliance against Antisemitic Terror,” which accused the Palestine Conference of trivializing terror and of antisemitism. In doing so, they supported the smear campaign against the campaign and against the left-wing activists, both Palestinians and antizionist Jews, who organized the Conference. They also legitimized the authorities’ event and entry bans against the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and the physician Dr. Ghassan Abu Sittah, who has for years been travelling to war zones to treat the wounded.

A further step in the escalation is the termination, after the congress, of two leisure centers for young women and girls by the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg youth office under the leadership of district councilor Max Kindler.

The aim is to silence solidarity with Palestine.

Individual representatives of Die Linke and individual branches have positioned themselves against this repressive policy. However, by refusing to take a unified and clear position at state level, Die Linke Berlin is giving the repressive policy a free pass.

There are now 35,000 dead in the Gaza Strip. The UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese says that the threshold of genocide has been reached. Anyone who remains silent in the face of the German government’s continuous, unqualified solidarity with Israel and the uninterrupted supply of weapons condones this injustice.

Those who are not resolutely against the criminalization of Palestine solidarity also condone this injustice.

Representatives of Die Linke, which sees itself as a “civil rights party,” know that repression and an expansion of state powers will be directed against other parts of the left or internationalist movements in the future.

Around the party congress, various parts of the left gave different reasons why the party should not take a position on the issue of Palestine solidarity: functionaries such as Klaus Lederer and Elke Breitenbach, as well as the district executive committee of Die Linke in Pankow agree with the agitation of the black-red Senate and of the Springer press about the alleged “antisemitic agitation” at the Conference – without providing any evidence.

Others believe that Die Linke should not comment on these “sensitive” issues because the question is too controversial within Die Linke’s membership and electorate, and the party should not appear divided. Finally, we also heard the argument that a state party conference does not adjudicate world politics.

All these justifications ultimately amount to the same thing: Die Linke should remain silent when basic democratic rights in Germany are suspended on a larger scale than at any time since 1989.

To date, Die Linke in Berlin has not yet found the courage to name the war crimes committed by the Israeli government as war crimes. In doing so, it is at best ambiguous about the most important global political crisis and the greatest war crimes of our time.

Commitment to solidarity is the order of the day

Just as Die Linke has rightly rejected attacks against its position on open borders and an anti-racist policy, it must again be courageous and take a stand. Otherwise, its election campaign slogans for peace will remain hollow platitudes. All members of Die Linke for whom the vital interests of people in Gaza and the basic democratic rights in Germany are more important than the party’s “raison d’être” should now oppose the refusal of the state party conference to take a stand and should take part in the upcoming protests against the war in Gaza.

It is time for all those in Die Linke who oppose repression to say it out loud. It is time to oppose the closure of the Frieda Women’s Center, to call for the lifting of entry bans and assembly bans, and to expand the protests against the bombing of Gaza and against German arms exports to Israel.

The next major Gaza demonstration will take place in Berlin on May 18th. It is time to show our faces – against the war in Gaza, against German arms deliveries to Israel, against the state repression of the solidarity movement.

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