Why Berliners should join tomorrow’s Nakba Day Demo

The current level of repression makes it even more important that we show our strength


Tomorrow (Saturday, 18th May) is the Nakba commemoration demonstration in Berlin. In 2022, this demonstration was banned. In 2023, it was banned again. Given the current level of repression, you’d assume that we have no chance of demonstrating this year.


German police have never been friends of Palestine activists, but in the last 7 months, we have experienced more repression than ever before. At the beginning of October, all demonstrations were banned. Wearing “symbols of Palestine” was also banned in schools.

When demonstrators commemorating the racist murders in Hanau drew links with Palestine, they were subjected to severe police violence. More recently, the police brutally cleared the camps for Gaza outside the Bundestag and at FU.

The Berlin Senate is trying to introduce a law allowing Universities to ex-matriculate students who take part in demonstrations. This law is clearly aimed at Palestine solidarity. Similarly, the German mainstream press has consistently attacked Palestinians and their supporters.

Germany is also introducing a new nationality law which will make it more difficult for people who the State believes to be antisemitic to receive citizenship. The way in which accusations of antisemitism are currently used to attack pro-Palestine activists and film makers shows that this law is clearly not aimed at the white right wing extremists who carry out 93% of antisemitic acts in Germany.

Muslims are being accused of importing antisemitism to a country which supposedly has always been welcoming to Jews, apart from that embarrassing blip in the 1930s and 40s. Such victim blaming has the effect of both letting the real Nazis off the hook and further demonising Palestinians alongside others from migrant families.

All this is happening in a country where the AfD – a party which is riddled with antisemites and actual Nazis – is currently the second most popular party. Leading AfD members took part in a conference last year which seriously discussed deporting millions of migrants and people with the “wrong” political opinions. Just imagine what an authoritarian AfD would do with these new laws.

In the face of such repression, a common sense response is to keep your head down, not to make a fuss, and to hope that the attacks will go away. Experience tells us that this strategy is illusory. If we do not resist the repression now, the bully boys will feel empowered and come back for more.


Notwithstanding all the repression, I’m not so sure that tomorrow’s demo will be banned. Because every instance of police repression has met with resistance on our side. And we are winning.

What was the response to the initial bans in October? Hundreds of young people marched down Sonnenallee wearing kuffiyahs. Within a couple of weeks, the demo ban was lifted, and we were marching through the streets of Berlin.

When police attacked the camps for Gaza, further camps sprung up – both in German universities, and worldwide. When they broke up the camp at FU, over 1,000 educators signed a letter of complaint, causing the FU authorities to stop attacking students.

Every action of repression is met with a more than equal opposite reaction of resistance. The demonstrations are no longer just about the genocide in Gaza. They are about the right to protest, freedom of speech, and opposing increasingly heavy-handed policing.

What will happen tomorrow… ?

At tomorrow’s demonstration, there are two possibilities. The police may once more ban the demo at the last minute. In which case, we need as many people as possible at Oranienplatz at 2pm to defy the ban. We cannot let the Berliner police determine where we can and cannot meet. In particular, Palestinians must have a place to mourn their dead and dispossessed.

Those of us with relatively secure residency status have a special duty to protect our Palestinian brothers and sisters. For months, people with precarious Aufenthalt have been demonstrating, even though they know that being arrested could have serious implications for their right to stay in Germany. We must demonstrate en masse and protect each other.

The other possibility is that we are allowed to march. We must turn this into a show of strength. Tomorrow’s demonstration is not just against Israel’s genocide and German complicity. It is against the criminalisation of protest and for everyone who has been unjustly arrested or beaten. The more people turn up tomorrow, the better we can support them.

Our strength lies in our depth and our diversity. Come to tomorrow’s demonstration, but don’t come on your own. Bring your friends, your family, your neighbours, and the person sitting opposite you on the U-Bahn.

and afterwards?

Worldwide protests, from US campuses to the streets of Jordan, show that we have a worldwide movement which is fighting not just for Palestinian rights but for a better world. Our leaders have lost all credibility, and it is time to build something different, something better. Recent developments show that, despite all limitations, it is also possible to build such a movement in Germany.

On Wednesday morning, the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, Palestine activists gave out over 1,000 leaflets at the Amazon Web Service summit in Berlin. The leaflets demanded that Amazon drop Project Nimbus, a 1.2 billion dollar contract with the Israeli government and military. This is one of many local initiatives aimed at bringing Palestine into the mainstream by targeting, for example, climate activists and trade unionists. Although White Germans have been reluctant to publicly stand up for Gaza, the mood is changing.

At a meeting organised by the Palestine Campaign on Wednesday, someone in the public brought up the idea of setting up neighbourhood activist groups for Palestine. This had a massive resonance, with 70 people signing that night. If you are interested in setting up something in your Kiez, please contact us at team@theleftberlin.com and we can put you in touch with local activists who want to do something similar.

Tomorrow is the next step in liberating Palestine and building a different type of society worldwide. Come along, we have nothing to lose but our chains.

Berlin Nakba Day Demo. Oranienplatz, 2pm, followed by discussion, food and networking. Similar events are being organised in other cities.