Germany’s Ban on Public Solidarity With Palestine

While other European countries are witnessing mass protests in solidarity with Palestine, Germany has been policing such scenes off its streets, Peoples Dispatch reports.

Israel solidarity demonstration in Berlin on Oct. 8, 2023. (Leonhard Lenz, Wikimedia Commons, CC0)

By Peoples Dispatch

Germany is home to Europe’s largest Palestinian community, with roughly 80,000 Palestinians living in the country. For years, German authorities have tried to stifle Palestinian activism, viewing it as a nuisance to its explicit policy of “unconditional support for Israel.” 

Demonstrations, such as one earlier this year to mark the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, have been sporadically banned in recent years. Organizations, such as the Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun, have also come under increasing scrutiny.

Yet the criminalization of solidarity with Palestine on a national level has taken on entirely new dimensions since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

After a small demonstration on Berlin’s busy Sonnenallee street on the evening of Oct. 7, the German media and body politic have been up in arms about Palestinians supposedly celebrating terrorism and anti-Semitism on German streets.

Talking points that were two weeks ago only uttered by far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, politicians are now being openly expressed by politicians from all parliamentary parties in Germany.

Playing off the idea of “imported anti-Semitism,” the Social Democratic Chancellor Olaf Scholz is now arguing that “we must finally deport on a large scale” residents who do not hold German citizenship and openly protest against Israel. 

The Christian Democrats (CDU) are even demanding that the recognition of Israel’s right to exist must become a precondition for German citizenship.

Samidoun has been made into public enemy No. 1 as the media presents the group as a bastion for “sympathizers of terror” that poses “a particular danger, because as a secular organization, they are building bridges between Islamists and radical leftists.”

In a speech before Parliament on Oct. 12,  Scholz announced a ban on Samidoun along with a ban on the activities of Hamas in Germany. 

Scholz at European Parliament in June 2022. (European Parliament, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

In Berlin specifically, which is home to one of the largest Palestinian diaspora communities outside the Arab world, the authorities have been particularly hostile towards any signs of solidarity with Palestine.

Since Oct. 7, every demonstration explicitly or implicitly referring to Palestine has been banned, leaving the roughly 30,000 Palestinians living in Berlin with no means of expressing their anguish at the siege and bombardment of Gaza.

Solidarity groups have been trying to bypass this censorship by avoiding political statements and focusing on humanitarian campaigning, yet even demonstrations and slogans such as “Children in Gaza need help” and “Solidarity with the civilian population in the Gaza Strip” were banned. 

Dec. 10, 2017: Palestinian solidarity march in Berlin after U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Hossam el-Hamalawy, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

On Oct. 13, the police went so far as to outlaw a demonstration registered by the group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East entitled “Jewish Berliners against violence in the Middle East.” 

Sonnenallee, a busy street in the district in which many Arab migrants live, has become a focal point of dissent against Israel’s attack on Gaza.

The police patrol Sonnenallee every evening with tight controls on the public squares. Racial profiling and brutal arrests are commonplace and often recorded and posted to social media. One particular video shows police officers stomping out a candle-lit vigil with their boots.

In a letter to all Berlin schools, the city’s Department for Education, Youth and Family set out strict guidelines on how to discuss the situation in Palestine with students.  It said:

“Any demonstrative action or expression of opinion that can be understood as advocating or approving of the attacks against Israel or support for the terrorist organizations carrying them out, such as Hamas or Hezbollah, constitutes a threat to school peace in the current situation and is prohibited.” 

According to the letter, these may include the following: 

“… visibly wearing relevant clothing (for example, the kuffiyeh known as the Palestinian scarf), displaying stickers and patches with inscriptions such as ‘free Palestine’ or a map of Israel in the colors of Palestine (white, red, black, green), and shouting ‘free Palestine!’ and demonstrating verbal support for Hamas and its terrorism.”

At one high school on Sonnenallee, a 61-year-old teacher attempted to confiscate a Palestinian flag from a 14-year-old student and ended up in a physical altercation with a second 15-year-old student. 

The parents’ association of the school tried to organize a demonstration under the slogan “No place for racism, no place for violence” as a reaction to the incident, yet it was promptly banned by the police, ostensibly as a “a precautionary measure.” 

The Central Council of Palestinians in Germany has since sent a letter in response to Berlin’s Department for Education, expressing their “great concern about the psychological and educational development [of their children]” in Berlin schools.

As other European states are witnessing mass protests in solidarity with Palestine, the German state has been able to use force and violence to prevent such scenes on German streets. Yet it is unlikely that the government will be able to ban these sentiments of solidarity indefinitely, especially as the images of Israel’s brutal attack on Gaza continue to circulate around the world.

This article is from  Peoples Dispatch.  

Views expressed in this article may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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35 comments for “Germany’s Ban on Public Solidarity With Palestine

  1. Vera Gottlieb
    October 27, 2023 at 10:33

    Don’t forget…Germany is a US-occupied nation and as such will do what the ‘master’ tells it to do.

  2. Tara
    October 27, 2023 at 05:08

    So! It is okay to wage wars in the name of Democracy and Freedom of Speech – destroying nations and societies, in the process. Yet, here’s evidence of the West’s most protected values – what democracy? What freedom of speech?

    Well, finally, we see the true face of authoritarianism, skulking right under our very noses.

    All of the posturing and lecturing non-Western states and populations have had to endure. The sheer hypocrisy!

    “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength” – our world, in a nutshell.

  3. kooka
    October 27, 2023 at 01:55

    Free Palestine from German guilt

    • Caliman
      October 27, 2023 at 12:06

      The whole existence of Israel is owed to European (1) guilt and (2) antisemitism.

      • Rafael
        October 28, 2023 at 04:01

        and (3) imperialism

    • Nathan Mulcahy
      October 27, 2023 at 13:05

      What the west has is Democrappy. Excuse my French.

      • julia eden
        October 28, 2023 at 08:32

        i’ve long called it: demockracy.

        as ,the west’ is making a mockery
        of all its supposedly noble values
        which have allowed it to wreak so much havoc
        around the globe and have created countless
        hells on earth, with no end of them in sight …

        unless the globe overheats. then, there won’t be
        any need for peace [negotiations] anywhere.
        and nature will get a chance to breathe of relief.

  4. WillD
    October 26, 2023 at 23:34

    The more Germany tries to silence support for Palestine generally, the more it reveals the futility of its attempt to overcompensate up for its last century genocide of the Jews – because it is starting to use the same draconian methods that were used then to persecute the Jews, but now on Palestinian supporters.

    Germany looks like it is falling into the trap of allowing the oppressed to become the oppressors, and also into letting its shameful history repeat itself.

  5. Amina Abisbassi
    October 26, 2023 at 17:12

    The growing pressure on governments and global leaders is palpable, as people worldwide express deep concern about the deteriorating sense of humanity we collectively experience. Witnessing the horrors unfold, including the tragic deaths of over 2700 children in a matter of days, evokes profound sorrow. It’s crucial to emphasize that this is not a movie; it’s a grim reality happening in the present moment. The natural response is a resounding demand: this must cease immediately.

    The call for international action to halt the violence in Israel is urgent. Waiting until after Gaza is decimated, only to provide aid to the few survivors, is not acceptable. This transcends political boundaries; it’s a moral imperative for all of humanity. The question we face is fundamental: can we expect a positive future if we remain silent spectators, casually observing the slaughter as if it were mere entertainment?

    Therefore, those who protest and speak out against these atrocities do so on behalf of the entire human race. If we fail to act collectively, my sentiment is that we are all destined for a grim fate.

  6. October 26, 2023 at 14:09

    What kind of democracy is this??? What was the lesson learned from its defeat in WW II? Apparently nothing to do with ethics or morality.

    • Valerie
      October 26, 2023 at 15:23

      This kind, Snr. Mahé:

      “Amidst the deafening propaganda for a further escalation of war in the Middle East, Humboldt University has banned the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) university group from holding an event entitled “Stop the Genocide in Gaza.” This is an act of political censorship designed to suppress any discussion of the German government’s brutal policies in the region. We call on all students and WSWS readers to send protest emails to the university administration at [email protected] (copy to [email protected]).”

      It’s unfathomable really.

  7. mgr
    October 26, 2023 at 14:01

    So Germany wants to assuage its guilt over the Holocaust by becoming complicit with the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people? Have they lost their minds? Of course, Scholz, it is reported, also knew and approved the Noordstream destruction that is destroying Germany’s industrial base. Right. Let’s just pile banality upon banality. Mediocre leaders may be able to glide by during normal times but in crucial times their inherent incompetence comes to the fore.

    • James White
      October 26, 2023 at 16:06

      ‘So Germany wants to assuage its guilt over the Holocaust by becoming complicit with the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people?’ Yes, that about sums it up. This is what comes of government imposed limits on free speech. You would not know this judging by the stammering, clueless weakling that is Anthony Blinken, but the U.S. once hired diplomats who were well educated, worldly and intelligent. ‘those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.’ said Benjamin Franklin. -First American Minister (the eighteenth century American equivalent of Ambassador) to be received by a foreign government.

    • Nathan Mulcahy
      October 27, 2023 at 13:08

      No, Germany hasn’t learned anything from the holocaust

  8. Mary Saunders
    October 26, 2023 at 13:45

    A German citizen was renditioned from a consulate in Mexico. It was similarto trouble in Turkey, except the Mexican government did not have the consulate bugged. French government may be louder, but quiet Germanic governments are perhaps more brutal in recent years.

    • Valerie
      October 27, 2023 at 13:49

      I wonder what happened to that man. It was really weird. Something didn’t add up there for me.

  9. Eddie S
    October 26, 2023 at 12:35

    To me, these sort of legal prohibitions (ie; see also the laws against BDS in the US) always signals that the authorities have a very weak (or ‘NO’) ethical/political case, so they have to resort to brute force to rely on enforced ignorance.

  10. Caliman
    October 26, 2023 at 11:57

    A culture that tolerates authoritarianism can’t change its stripes … first it took antisemitism to its horrific end, now it’s antiarabism.

    As terrible as the situation here in the US, I’m glad every day for our constitution and the spirit of anglo-american contrarianism that birthed it.

    • joey_n
      October 27, 2023 at 03:22

      But does “the spirit of Anglo-American contrarianism” exist today, opposing Israeli brutality? Or is it egging Israel on?
      Does that same spirit control Germany as well, robbing it of the necessary sovereignty to play nice with Russia and China?
      What susan says below has me thinking…

      • Caliman
        October 27, 2023 at 12:01

        Of course you and she are right that the people have long been propagandized to support Israel as an extension of the “west” with related support.

        However, the point is that we here are free to express contrary opinions, hold countering marches and demonstrations, even conduct reporting (rarely) on both sides with minimal legal troubles.

        Free speech is very precious. Germany, France, most of continental Europe, even Canada, do not have it … let’s appreciate what we have, because it is under attack in the US under the guise of “misinformation” etc. as well.

  11. Orwell Smith
    October 26, 2023 at 11:22

    And, remember, we are fighting a war of “Democracy and Freedom” against “the Authoritarians.” That’s where all the money is going. If you want better paid teachers and nurses, if you want better education and health care, the answer is nein, nein, nein. If you want public transport to help save the Earth. There is no money for anything. ‘We’ can not afford such luxuries. There is no money for education or health care, because the military budgets and the special war funding budgets are untouchable in a time of war. And they must go up, up, up because we are fighting for Democracy and Freedom.

    So, the reason why most public services are always underfunded and seem to be hanging by a thread and needing to hold a bake sale to hang on, is because we are fighting a War for Democracy and Freedom. In the name of those holy causes, no free expression that runs contrary to the opinion of the state is permitted. Because only the opinion of the state matters, and anything opinions to the contrary will weaken the State in its important fight for Democracy and Freedom.

    When I grew up, I heard the adults saying “we had to destroy the village so we could save it”.
    Yep, this is where I came in to the theater. “we had to destroy democracy to save democracy”.
    Don’t forget to vote (D) to stop fascism.

    • Xpat Paula
      October 26, 2023 at 13:30

      I hope that was sarcasm.

  12. susan
    October 26, 2023 at 09:58

    You think this isn’t happening here in the good old USA? Better think again. Our “government, MSM and MIC have all conspired to make us mindless buffoons and this well-oiled propaganda machine seems to be very effective here and abroad. As US citizens sit idly by, thousands of innocent people are being murdered by not only Israel but by most western governments. Welcome to 1984!

  13. Altruist
    October 26, 2023 at 04:45

    The Germans – or at least their government – just can’t get it right. On the side of genocide every time.

    • Kraut
      October 26, 2023 at 12:10

      Well, not ‘every’ time. They used to run guns to the resistance to the English occupation of Ireland. That of course is not called ‘genocide’, only ‘famines’ and ‘illegal rebellions against the King’, because the histories are written in Oxford and Cambridge.

      The only absolute about absolutes like always is that they are certain to be always wrong. Since I’m an old freak, I naturally look for the exceptions. And edited several to keep this short(er).

      • Altruist
        October 26, 2023 at 13:08

        Fair enough, you’re indeed right. Absolutes are indeed (almost) always certain to be wrong.

        Germany and its citizens historically did many good things, of course. Began to go downhill, in my humble opinion, after Bismarck was handed his walking papers by the young Kaiser. Bismarck being, among other things, very philo-Semitic (for example, recommending intermarriage between Jews and the German nobility), as well as considering an alliance with Russia to be the bedrock of German security (which, had it been continued under his successors, would have prevented the two world wars – and Germany’s losses).

        Interesting point about Ireland as a victim of genocide. It’s instructive how many Americans of Irish descent – Biden being a conspicuous exception – have been antiwar, progressive and champions of the underdog.

  14. Valerie
    October 25, 2023 at 22:28

    “displaying stickers and patches with inscriptions such as ‘free Palestine’ or a map of Israel in the colors of Palestine (white, red, black, green), and shouting ‘free Palestine!’ and demonstrating verbal support for Hamas and its terrorism.””

    Strange. In the not too distant past Germany was instrumental in forcing stickers/armbands/tatoos on the Jewish population. Strange they should be offended now by stickers/patches etc showing solidarity with a population under the same threat of extermination. Isn’t it ironic.

    • Anna
      October 26, 2023 at 14:34

      History repeats itself, as is said, over & over. Now the Jews are victimizing the Palistinians, but it is forbidden to say this in public in Germany?? One thing is certain, Homo Sapien cannot live without constant war!! Violence is bred into it’s DNA.

      • Valerie
        October 27, 2023 at 15:06

        Can violence be classified as DNA i wonder Anna. Anyway i found this interesting:


        (And chimps are basically vegeterians; as we humans too are not real carnivores.)

    • Tara
      October 27, 2023 at 05:18

      Strange. I, too, had a similar thought…

      Whether one was forced to wear their identity on their sleeves or is now banned from doing so, genocide is genocide.

      The sad irony of Scholz stating: “That is why our ‘never again’ must be unbreakable” (“German leaders voice outrage…” AP News, 23 Oct 2023), while the whole world is Witness to a Holocaust happening, right this very moment.

      • Valerie
        October 27, 2023 at 15:16

        Yes Tara, happening right before our eyes. And people forget the Armenian and Rwandan genocide. The whole world was witness to those too, but similarily to this current genocide there is no help for the oppressed.

  15. Andrew Nichols
    October 25, 2023 at 19:43

    …under a Social Democrat Green govt….let that sink in…

    • Rafael
      October 28, 2023 at 04:24

      good advice!

  16. Lois Gagnon
    October 25, 2023 at 19:31

    Yet these Western countries insist they are democracies. They are fascist dictatorships with no regard for human rights. Their leadership needs to go.

    • CaseyG
      October 27, 2023 at 14:42

      America has turned into a De MOCK racy.

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