The Guardian • Issue #2097

Germany cracks down on behalf of Israel

Demonstration in Berlin, 4 November 2023. Organised by Palestinian and Jewish groups.

Demonstration in Berlin, 4 November 2023. Organised by Palestinian and Jewish groups. Photo: Streets of Berlin – flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Germany has clearly learned no lessons from history as it cracks down on pro-Palestine voices as part of its unwavering support for the Zionist project. The keyword for the German strategy appears to be ‘ban.’ From the banning of entire languages at protests to the banning of pro-Palestine speakers, it seems that Germany’s leadership is willing to put a stop to everything other than its own military, economic, and political collaboration with Israel.

In a draconian move emblematic of Germany’s attitude towards the ongoing genocide and apartheid perpetrated by Israel, Berlin has banned all languages other than English and German from being spoken at pro-Palestine rallies. The rules have already been used to break up Irish protestors who had gathered in a ciorcal comhrá, or conversation circle, at a pro-Palestine camp near the Reichstag. The protestors had been singing various songs in Gaeilge as well as English. As an official language of the EU, Gaeilge has equal status to all 23 other EU languages, a fact evidently ignored by Berlin police. The language ban is of course intended to enable police to impose their control more easily on pro-Palestine events, with Arabic speakers as the main target.

Berlin’s language ban follows other actions taken by German authorities on all levels of government to effectively outlaw pro-Palestinian sentiment. A three-day Palestine conference in Berlin was raided by police on 12 April after a mere two hours, as power was cut off and hundreds of attendees were forced to leave. All further sessions were banned.

Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister and one of the main speakers at the event, was issued with a general ban against all speech in Germany, even by video call. Berlin media later reported that the restriction had been reduced to a travel ban from entering the country. As of the 17 April, in an interview with Jacobin, Varoufakis reported that neither ban, the former of which having previously only been used against ISIS operatives, had been delivered to him in writing.

Germany’s crackdown on the voices of its working-class, and indeed any voice that opposes the ruling class’s support for the Zionist project, coincides with the rise of right-wing and fascist elements in German, and indeed European, politics. These echoes of history should be of grave concern to all working-class people in the EU and beyond.

Germany’s pro-Israel mania reached international attention after Nicaragua initiated proceedings against Germany before the International Court of Justice on 1 March. Nicaragua alleges that German support for Israel constitutes contributing to genocide and other violations of international law inflicted upon Palestinian people. Judging from their attempts to ban pro-Palestine voices, it is clear Germany’s leadership have no desire to back down from their support for Israel.

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