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Berlin in Solidarity with Palestine

More than 5,000 people joined a demonstration in Berlin on Saturday in solidarity with Palestine.

Nathaniel Flakin

May 17, 2021
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German protesters hold signs that read "Liebe Germany. Stop arming Israel." In the background, people are waving Palestinian flags.

Saturday was the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba, which is Arabic for “disaster” or “catastrophe.” In 1948, Zionist militias forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes. This process of ethnic cleansing continues today. In recent days, almost 200 people in Gaza have been killed by Israeli bombs.

Saturday in Berlin, more than 5,000 people gathered for a demonstration to commemorate the Nakba and repudiate Israel’s war in Gaza. The demonstration started at Oranienplatz, which was a center of refugee protests in the city for many years.

In the last few days, the German ruling class has launched a nonstop campaign to defame anyone who opposes the Israeli massacre as an antisemite. In the last week, multiple pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been attacked by police. The title pages of big newspapers falsely claim that demonstrators have chanted slogans about killing Jews or that there is a danger of terrorist attacks at synagogues. The German president gave a speech calling for increased criminalization of solidarity protests.

But at all these demonstrations, Jewish people of different ages and nationalities are on the front line. Thus, black-uniformed thugs from German police are beating Jews in the street — but this is presented as a fight against antisemitism!

The demonstration in Berlin on Saturday was not only large, but diverse and colorful. Activists from the Black Lives Matter movement in Germany showed their support, and signs said “Palestinian Lives Matter” or “We can’t breathe since 1948.” Whereas many from the German Left capitulate to the bourgeois propaganda and refuse to support Palestine, Berlin’s multinational population seems at least partly immune to this kind of ideological pressure.

There have been examples of supporters of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan joining demonstrations with Turkish flags. This is completely hypocritical, as the Turkish state maintains a brutal occupation regime in Kurdistan that is no less brutal than the Zionist occupation of Palestine. The organizers of the demonstration in Berlin today made clear statements rejecting any form of antisemitism and Turkish fascism.

In the past, anti-Palestinian racism has left Palestinian demonstrations in Germany isolated. Leaders of the left party DIE LINKE, which is in government in Berlin, are more likely to express their support for the Israeli occupation regime than for the Palestinian resistance against it. In fact, back in 2014, Israeli activists in Berlin had to organize a demonstration specifically calling on the German Left to raise their voices against the last war in Gaza. Today, an action like that would no longer be necessary. After powerful demonstrations on May 1, led by young people with immigrant backgrounds, Berlin today saw a very powerful internationalist demonstration — this is a hopeful sign for anyone seeking to build up a revolutionary and anti-imperialist Left in Germany.

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Nathaniel Flakin

Nathaniel is a freelance journalist and historian from New York City. He is on the editorial board of Left Voice and our German sister site Klasse Gegen Klasse. Nathaniel, also known by the nickname Wladek, has written a biography of Martin Monath, a Trotskyist resistance fighter in France during World War II, which appeared last year in German and this year in English. He is on the autism spectrum.

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