We Accuse!

Statement by the Organisers of the Berlin Palestine Congress


Between the 12th and 14th of April, the Palestine 2024 Conference will take place in Berlin. A broad coalition of Palestinian, Jewish, German and international activists will join together with experts, lawyers, journalists and academics of different backgrounds and nationalities to publicly accuse the German government of aiding and abetting the genocide in Gaza.

Israel is destroying Gaza and its population. As has been broadly acknowledged, we are witnessing a textbook case of genocide. The Israeli colonial project of domination over Palestine has escalated towards the total destruction of native Palestinian life in Palestine. By February 2024, 1.9 million people had been displaced. More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military. Infrastructure, hospitals, universities, schools, mosques, churches, administrative buildings and apartment blocks have been reduced to rubble. Hundreds of thousands suffer from hunger and have no access to clean drinking water or medicine.

Many western governments, especially those of the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, are fully complicit in this horrendous, brutal and savage onslaught. These governments are failing to meet their obligations to ensure that the Geneva Convention mandates are observed. But what is worse, they are actively providing arms and economic support, as well as political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s atrocities. The state of Israel is committing grave crimes against humanity. Germany is complicit in these crimes.

During the course of what the International Court of Justice sees as a plausible genocide in Palestine, the German government increased its arms deliveries to Israel tenfold in 2023. In January 2024, with starvation looming in Gaza, the German government declared that it would stop its financial support for humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. Germany declares injustice to be just. Germany supports a genocide.

At home, the German state is reproducing a regime of occupation and disenfranchisement that the Israeli state has practiced against Palestinians since 1948. This historical rupture requires resistance. German politicians are endeavouring to cynically reinterpret history and justify their support for genocide under the slogan of “never again”. If they succeed in doing this without resistance, the unthinkable will once again become feasible in Germany.

The deafening noise of the bombardments in Palestine is only surpassed by the droning silence of German society. The genocide in Gaza is a turning point in German history. The German government is shamelessly supporting a genocide in full view of the international public. Democratic rights have been undermined in order to silence protests calling for a ceasefire. Freedom of assembly, freedom of organisation, freedom of the press and academic freedom are being massively curtailed.

At the same time, German corporate media, absolutely subservient to the German state and its defence of Israeli genocide as “Raison d’Etat”, openly violate article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They continually dehumanise Palestinians and their supporters in order to facilitate genocide, and disseminate war propaganda and stir up racial and religious hatred. All this constitutes an unacceptable incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence against every voice calling for a ceasefire, an end to the genocide, and respect for Palestinian lives. German institutions and the majority of German media are, in this light, collaborating to punish those who dare to speak out against atrocities.

Within the last few days and weeks, we have seen in the German press preposterous and baseless accusations against the Palestine Conference and its organisers and participants. “Antisemites plan hate summit in Berlin” (newspaper B.Z.),”Congress of Terror Trivializers”, “Antisemites of the world want to gather in Berlin” (Tagesspiegel and Berliner Kurier), and “Party Youth Organisations Call for Resistance to ‘Palestine Congress’. The planned anti-Israel ‘Palestine Congress’ in Berlin has been met with fierce criticism” (Der Spiegel). These are just a few examples of defamatory and criminalising headlines showing how the Palestine Conference is currently being misrepresented and lambasted.

The smear campaign is also reflected in its political counterpart: The Berlin Senate is currently considering banning the event. This deliberate repression of political activity by state authorities represents a clear threat to free speech and democratic principles. If Berlin authorities continue to pursue the repression of this conference, they will be threatening civil liberties in their own country, attacking the international legal system, and supporting what in our view amounts to genocide against the Palestinian people.

Over the past few days, individuals and organisations active in solidarity with Palestine have been subjected to intolerable forms of harassment and repression. Houses of activists and headquarters of organisations have been raided, some activists have been arrested without charge and their personal belongings confiscated. The German bank account of Jüdische Stimme / Jewish Voice has been frozen by its bank, which has demanded a full list of members’ names and addresses, in an alarming echo of history.

At the same time that this repression targets Jewish individuals and organisations, the rhetoric used to criminalise and target Palestine solidarity activists accuses them of “antisemitism”. This is a vacuous and twisted use of the term, which completely empties the term of its historical meaning, prevents a real dialogue about antiracism and represents an insult to the memory of the millions of victims of antisemitism throughout history.

In fact, The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (signed by dozens of scholars and experts from prestigious institutions) states that “supporting the Palestinian demand for justice and the full grant of their political, national, civil and human rights, as encapsulated in international law” is not antisemitic. Nor is the following antisemitic: “criticizing or opposing Zionism as a form of nationalism… or to support arrangements that accord full equality to all inhabitants “between the river and the sea,” whether in two states, a binational state, unitary democratic state, federal state, or in whatever form”.

The international movement of solidarity with Palestine is overwhelmingly motivated by a sincere opposition to all forms of racism, including antisemitism. For this reason, hundreds of thousands of Jewish people around the world have taken to the streets in opposition to Israel’s barbaric assault on Gaza, and numerous Jewish speakers are scheduled to speak at this conference.

The atrocious and indiscriminate violence targeting the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, with the financial and political support of the German state and German media, can and must be brought to an end. In the aftermath of this genocide, these actors will also have to be held accountable. “Never again” must be for all peoples.