German officials seek to escalate attack on Palestinian rights, targeting growing movement

One month ago, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in cities across Germany, demanding justice, freedom and liberation for Palestine, from the river to the sea. From Berlin to Frankfurt, from Hannover to Düsseldorf, Palestinians, Arabs and German and international comrades marched in massive, continuing demonstrations rejecting Israeli war crimes and colonialism throughout Palestine. These marches and actions continued to progress despite attempts to ban demonstrations, police brutality and attacks on protesters, and repeated defamation and racist attacks against the organizers and participants in these actions. 

Now, German officials are seeking to escalate their attacks on Palestinian organizing in an attempt to intimidate, repress and subjugate the growing activity and involvement of Palestinian youth and communities in leading social justice movements throughout Germany. This proposal, marketed as a “Hamas flag” ban by the leading political parties in Germany (CDU, CSU and SPD), will allegedly be voted on by the Bundestag next week, barring the “use of symbols” of organizations on the EU “list of terrorist organizations.” 

Currently, German law only allows for the prohibition of symbols and flags if the organizations are themselves banned by the German state. Rather than actually seeking to make a case against Palestinian resistance organizations, including Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, these German political parties once again seek to repress and intimidate the Palestinian community from expressing their political position and support for the resistance. We note here that this act would not only apply to Palestinian resistance organizations but in fact to all national liberation movements and organizations labeled “terrorist” by the EU, including the Communist Party of the Philippines and multiple Kurdish and Turkish Leftist parties.

German politicians have openly admitted that this entire initiative is based on suppressing the popular movement that arose last month, falsely labeling it “anti-Semitic” rather than what it is in reality: pro-liberation, anti-colonial and anti-racist. This is yet another of the repeated attempts of the German state to deflect blame for the crimes of the Nazi Holocaust and European colonialism by instead attempting to place guilt on the Palestinian and Arab people for German and European atrocities. It also places the German state directly in line with U.S. imperialism and Zionist colonialism — alongside its ongoing weapons sales to the Israeli regime — as part and parcel of the assault on the Palestinian people. 

We note that this is only one of several attempts to criminalize and target the Palestinian and Arab community. Perhaps most egregiously, this same government coalition declared that it plans to introduce legislation to prohibit people convicted of even minor/petty offenses that are classified as “anti-Semitic” from naturalization. This project is based on the false classification of Palestinian protest as anti-Semitic, when in fact the perpetrators of actual anti-Jewish attacks in Germany are overwhelmingly German, far-right Nazis and fascists. It attempts to exonerate German fascism by targeting “imported anti-Semitism,” a ludicrous concept that makes a mockery of German politicians’ claimed reckoning with Germany’s historical crimes. 

As noted by Studis gegen Rechte Hetze (Students against Right-Wing Hate), “Of course, German fascists, who assume an absolute majority of anti-Semitic crimes and, in general, all racist crimes, are not affected by this tightening of the nationality law. This shows how racist this bill is, since it vilifies anti-racist liberation movements as ‘anti-semitic’ while sweeping its own German fascist history under the carpet and denying who really poses a threat of anti-semitic and generally racist crimes. Indeed, anti-Semitism is exported to the ‘evil, non-German others’”

The reactionary government in Germany – in office for just the three next months before the elections of September – is attempting to market itself with anti-Palestinian racism, which comes as no surprise. During the assault on Gaza and the attacks on the Palestinian people throughout occupied Palestine that brought millions to the streets in outrage around the world, the German officials of the so-called “Grand Coalition” (CDU, CSU and SPD) were raising the Zionist flag atop of town halls and government buildings! This kind of allegiance to the Israeli state and Zionist war crimes came against the will of millions of German citizens, who will hopefully hold these forces accountable in the next elections, and the entire movement in support of Palestinian liberation,  including our Internationalist comrades from many countries, will encourage them to do so.

It must be clear that the involvement of the SPD alongside the avowedly right-wing CDU and CSU in this motion comes as no surprise. Not only did the SPD support the Bundestag resolution denouncing and seeking to criminalize the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, it is SPD officials in Berlin that issued the political bans against both Rasmea Odeh and Khaled Barakat. 

The SPD interior minister in Berlin has repeatedly directed massive numbers of police to attack and disrupt Palestinian demonstrations as well as large-scale police raids targeting Arab neighbourhoods and locking down entire streets to investigate alleged petty violations like the sale of untaxed tobacco. These shows of police intimidation have a clearly racist character and effect and were widely criticized following the far-right, neo-Nazi massacre perpetrated in Hanau. 

Of course, anti-Palestinian racism and repression in Germany is nothing new. Every effort of Palestinians and their supporters to organize in their communities and on campuses is subjected to blatant defamation and incitement by the German media, while demonstrations like those in Frankfurt were subjected to attempted political bans by pro-Zionist, pro-apartheid officials; in Berlin, demonstrators were repeatedly subject to police surveillance, attacks and brutality. 

Palestinian feminist, torture survivor and former political prisoner Rasmea Odeh was subjected to a political ban in 2019, followed by deportation; this was followed by the political ban imposed on Palestinian writer Khaled Barakat and his forced exclusion from Germany. 

Both of these actions followed the Bundestag resolution against BDS – currently being challenged in court — a resolution that, while justified as not legally binding, was used to justify Khaled Barakat’s exclusion.

As Barakat noted, “Far from expressing guilt or responsibility for Nazi atrocities against Jewish people in Europe and the crimes of the Holocaust, this resolution and the other official anti-Palestinian attacks are an attempt to shift responsibility for these crimes from European fascism to Palestinian and Arab communities, especially refugee populations seeking refuge and safety…Anti-Semitism exists and is real, and the primary perpetrators are right-wing, racist, anti-Jewish groups, the same groups that also attack people of color. These are the same fascists that can organize rallies in the streets of Germany, while German officials defend their ‘freedom of expression’ and police attack anti-fascists who challenge them.”

The criminalization of the flags of Palestinian resistance organizations in Germany also recalls the multiple arrests and prosecutions of people in Germany for carrying the flags of Kurdish organizations, prosecutions that came hand in hand with the persecution of Turkish and Kurdish communists and leftists by the German state. 

It is clear that the purpose of this proposal is to repress the movement and create yet another pretext for police attacks, intelligence investigations, surveillance and criminalization against Palestinian communities and Palestinian solidarity organizations. We in Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, including and especially in Samidoun Deutschland, affirm that we will not be silenced or intimidated by such attacks on the Palestinian people and their resistance. Instead, they make it more clear than ever how important it is to expand, build and grow the Palestine solidarity movement and deepen Palestinian community organizing in Germany to effectively fight back and support all those under attack. 

The symbols and images of the resistance live in the hearts of the Palestinian people. They will be raised around the world and in every country, because they are symbols of hope for humanity — of those who fight for justice and liberation despite the massive military might of the oppressor. They blossom on walls in graffiti, in art and murals, in flags at protests and everywhere that people stand together against racism and colonialism. We urge people around the world to continue to highlight and raise these symbols in support of the Palestinian people and their right to resist, and as a sign of solidarity against these attempts to criminalize Palestinian protest and action. 

These efforts by the German regime to suppress the legitimate struggle of Palestinians against colonization will, like all of the home demolitions, forced expulsions, land confiscation, mass imprisonment, siege and crimes against humanity to which Palestinians are subjected, inevitably fail. Palestine will be victorious and liberated, from the river to the sea – despite all attacks by imperialism, Zionism and the politicians serving their interests.

Read more on anti-Palestinian repression in Germany: