Palestinian gathering in Berlin highlights 71 years of Nakba, struggles for liberation and return

Crowd attends Hermannplatz day for Palestine
Crowd attends Hermannplatz day for Palestine. Photo: Afif al-Ali

Samidoun activists joined hundreds of Palestinians and supporters of Palestine in Berlin, Germany, for the annual Palestine Day event in Hermannplatz. The event included wide participation from an array of organizations and activists, including a speech by Abla Sa’adat, Palestinian women’s activist and the wife of Ahmad Sa’adat, imprisoned Palestinian national leader and the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Abla Sa'adat speaking
Abla Sa’adat speaks at the event. Photo: Abed Khattar

The day-long event marking the 71st anniversary of the Nakba, the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland by Zionist militias, included a special recorded greeting by Archbishop Atallah Hanna from Palestine, saluting the participants and emphasizing the ongoing steadfastness of the Palestinian people struggling for their liberation and return.

BDS Berlin speakers
BDS Berlin speaks at the event. Photo: Abed Khattar

BDS Berlin gave a speech at the event as well as setting up a display about the campaign to boycott Israeli products and multinational corporations complicit with the occupation. The event included banners highlighting the international campaign to boycott the Eurovision song contest being hosted in Tel Aviv. Dozens of artists from European countries have announced their refusal to participate in the Eurovision so long as it is being used to “artwash” the ongoing colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Boycott Eurovision banner at the event. Photo: BDS Berlin

Watch the BDS Berlin speech:

The speakers also discussed a number of international campaigns active in Berlin, including the campaign to demand AXA insurance end its involvement with Israeli apartheid as well as the Boycott Puma campaign, demanding the manufacturer end its sponsorship of the Israeli Football Association.

Abdallah speaking at the event for Samidoun and Hirak.

Abdallah, a Palestinian youth activist in Berlin, spoke on behalf of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network as well as HIRAK, the Palestinian Youth Mobilization in Berlin. He noted that early May not only marks the anniversary of the Nakba, but also of 1 May, International Workers’ Day, and that both dates are key anniversaries for the Palestinian people’s liberation struggle.

Abdallah speaking on behalf of Samidoun and HIRAK. Photo: Abed Khattar

“Palestinian workers are regularly subject to colonial forms of imprisonment, from the political targeting of workers’ organizations to the mass criminalization of Palestinians seeking employment inside occupied Palestine ’48. Palestinian workers are frequently arrested for “entering Israel without a permit,” despite the fact that many of these same workers are Palestinian refugees denied their right to return to their original homes and lands for the past 71 years.”

“Palestinian workers are struggling not only to live and survive, but also to win the liberation of their homeland, a free Palestine from the river to the sea, and secure their right to return, a right that has been denied them for over 71 years. Every week, in Gaza, for over a year, thousands upon thousands of people, living under the most brutal form of siege and facing a brutal colonial army that does not hesitate to meet civilians with gunfire and bombs, march in the Great March of Return to demand their most fundamental right: the right to return.”

Yafa Dabkeh Troupe performs at the event. Photo: Abed Khattar

“Our participation here is also part of our global great march of return: a Palestinian march, yes, but also an Arab march and an international march for the right of return. For freedom for the prisoners. For an end to imperialism, colonialism and Zionism. For a free, liberated Palestine. For justice for all of our oppressed communities and liberation for the working class. Together, we struggle – until we win. And we greet you today with the greatest confidence that despite all odds, we will win,” he concluded.

Yafa Dabkeh Troupe performs at the event. Photo: Abed Khattar

Various cultural performances enlivened the event, including a dance performance by the Yafa Dabke Group as well as a musical performance by Jafra. Solidarity organizations and campaigns also participated, including the Bloque Latinoamericano and the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany. Banners highlighted multiple aspects of the Palestinian liberation struggle, including the right of return, the struggle for Jerusalem and the struggle to free Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails – as well as the campaign for the freedom of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, held for 34 years in French prisons.

Watch the Yafa Dabkeh performance:

Stands were set up around the area for distribution of materials, buttons and information about Palestine as well as Palestinian food and handicrafts. The Palestinian flag was seen everywhere in the square – as well as the Algerian, Cuban and Venezuelan flags, representing the ongoing united struggle against imperialism.

Flags of struggle at the event. Photo: Abed Khattar

As in various other events for Palestine in Berlin, Zionist organizations and right-wing media outlets launched an attack on the demonstration in an attempt to demand the suppression of Palestinian community organizing in the city. The political themes of the attack were not dissimilar to those that are raised over and over again, including racist attacks on Arabs and Palestinians, dubious and fabricated allegations of “anti-Semitism” that rely on the equation of Zionism and the Israeli state to Judaism and the Jewish people. These attacks in the “Berliner Morgenpost” as well as those by politicians like Volker Beck and others are an obvious and blatant attempt to censor Palestinian expression and narrowly define Palestinian culture as something that must never mention the ongoing 71 years of Nakba, ethnic cleansing, occupation and apartheid.

Georges Ibrahim Abdallah presente! Photo: Afif al-Ali

They are directly related to the censorship of Palestinian former prisoner, women’s organizer and torture survivor Rasmea Odeh, who was banned from speaking and had her Schengen visa stripped due to complaints from politicians such as Beck and false media allegations. Nevertheless, Berlin’s large Palestinian community, including many diverse organizations, continues to regularly organize protests, demonstrations and actions to defend the Palestinian people and Palestinian rights, including Palestinian political prisoners under attack.