A statement by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network:
On Saturday, 8 April, nearly 1,000 people marched through the streets of Berlin in solidarity with Palestine. The reality of this demonstration was that it was strong and organized, an expression of outrage and internationalism against the war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed against the Palestinian people by the Israeli occupation regime.
Despite the presence of an excessively large number of police as well as Arabic translators specifically brought by the police to surveil the crowd, there were no incidents reported by anyone while the demonstration took place. Instead, images of the demonstration spread around the world, a sign that Palestinians, Arabs, and internationalists in Germany have not forgotten the ongoing injustice in Palestine.
As always, when there is a large demonstration for Palestine, and particularly when the Palestinian and Arab community in Berlin speaks out for justice and against racism and repression, the attacks and attempts to criminalize the demonstration soon follow. We have seen this same rhetoric play out time and time again, and every time a new pretext is used to incite the suppression of the Palestinian voice in Berlin — as well as the suppression of all voices for justice.
This time, the pretext is a sensationalized video that is widely circulated by German media. The video in question contains deliberate translation errors, open demonization of Palestinians in general and Samidoun Network in particular, and openly vilifies political prisoners on hunger strike fighting blatantly political charges as civilians before occupation military courts, elderly political prisoners being murdered in Israeli prisons due to medical neglect, and child prisoners. The video attempts to highlight a single voice allegedly shouting an anti-Semitic slogan during the demonstration. The individual that allegedly shouted this statement is never shown in the video, they were not joined by any other person, the chant did not come from the front of the demonstration nor over the microphone, and this individual voice in a mass demonstration of a thousand people just happened to be close enough to these “journalists” for them to pick up his chant and use it to launch an extensive smear campaign against organizing for Palestine in Germany.
The identity of this person is entirely unclear, as is their reason for shouting this or even whether they were a participant in the demonstration at all. One thing is clear: they had nothing to do with the organization, direction, leadership or political framework of the mobilization and this statement does not reflect our clear anti-racist, anti-colonial vision for a liberated Palestine. Every single Palestinian demonstration in Germany is routinely and falsely targeted and smeared as anti-Jewish, when it is in fact anti-racist and pro-liberation. This is also being used to try to criminalize Samidoun, our member organizations and our initiatives in other countries thousands of kilometers away, which shows the true intentions of this campaign.
This smear tactic aims at putting in question our clear stance against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism, and by extent, our natural stance against the statement allegedly shouted by a single individual in the vicinity of the demonstration. Principled organization for Palestine is by definition anti-Zionist, against this racist and colonial system that oppresses and attempts at eliminating the Palestinian people. And we are joined in this struggle with our anti-zionist Jewish comrades, because our struggle is not in the context of a religious conflict, but is a liberation movement against colonialism, occupation, and oppression.
Two very important points about the weaponization of such incidents that are impossible to account for in a mass demonstration:
- We view such statements as a tool in the hands of reactionary and repressive forces, including pro-apartheid organizations that seek to criminalize support for Palestine.
- Zionism and its ongoing drive to designate this fascist ideology as “Jewish” has long played a nefarious role in confusing Zionism, a racist political ideology, with Judaism and Jewishness. The same is true of Western powers that repeatedly refer to the Israeli occupation as the “Jewish state”, attempting to tar all Jews with the brush of Zionist crimes. It is the Palestinian liberation movement that rejects the equation of Jews with Zionists and the Zionist movement that seeks to institutionalize that same equation.
Further, we are also clear that these coordinated attacks do not reflect any desire to act against racism, including anti-Semitism, in Berlin or in Germany. Instead, they exist to achieve three main objectives:
- Attempt to manufacture a pretext to prohibit organizations working for justice and liberation in Palestine, like the Samidoun Network, or to ban demonstrations, like the upcoming marches to commemorate the 75th anniversary of al-Nakba, the catastrophic occupation of Palestine, as we experienced in May 2022.
- Attempt to manufacture anti-Palestinian racism and repression on the streets of Berlin and to intimidate our community from participating in actions and demonstrations.
- Attempt to draw attention away from the topic of the demonstration itself — that is, the ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Palestine, justified by the German government and its political parties, up to and including the extreme settler movement that marched through the West Bank of occupied Palestine today, the calls to occupy all of Jordan as well as all of Palestine by Israeli Minister Bezalel Smotrich and the attacks on Palestinians at prayer in Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan.
We will not be silenced or suppressed, and we will not stand by as our community is targeted for repression and criminalization. We urge all to join us on Sunday, 16 April for the March to Free Palestinian Prisoners. With our collective clarity and voice, we once again affirm, from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!