On 15 May 2022, following a city-wide ban on commemorations of the 74th anniversary of the Nakba, the Berlin Police unleashed a campaign of harassment against Palestinians and their supporters — arresting activists and bystanders around the city. By the end of the day, 27 activists were detained by the police and 25 were fined a total of €8,269.50. Many of us are now challenging the fines in court. The event marks a serious escalation in the Berlin government’s attempts to punish and criminalize solidarity with Palestine. It is also reflective of a wider assault on the basic democratic rights of assembly and free speech.
More fundamentally, the Berlin government’s actions reflect the complicity of the German state in the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people. This cannot go unchallenged. In 1948, Zionist militias, in the course of the establishment of the state of Israel, forced some 750,000 Palestinian people from the towns, villages, and cities they called home. This is remembered as the “Nakba”, the Arabic word for catastrophe. Since then, Israel’s violent agenda of expansion has deprived the Palestinian people of the vast majority of their land. Encircled by walls and turrets, many Palestinians are now condemned to live in open-air prisons, where they have become test subjects for Israel’s technologies of war. At the time of writing, more than 30 Palestinians had already been killed by Israeli forces since the start of this year.
Neither the elderly nor the young are spared. Israel detains up to 700 Palestinian children each year, confining them in prisons where they face systematic abuse. Germany has a historic obligation to recognize and oppose all human rights violations including what all leading international human rights organizations define as crimes of apartheid and settler violence. But instead of channeling its historical memory towards solidarity with the oppressed, the German state has weaponized it to support and whitewash the crimes of the oppressors: funding and arming the Israeli state while silencing its opponents at home.
That is why we — activists, organizers, and citizens of Germany, the United States, Poland, Syria, and Palestine; Christians, Muslims, Jews, and non-believers alike — are organizing to fight back, supporting those persecuted on Nakba Day, building solidarity with Palestine in Berlin, and ultimately challenging Germany’s attempts to erase Palestinian historical memory.
Demonstrations in Berlin to mark the Nakba this year must be allowed to go ahead, and Germany’s attempts to criminalize solidarity with Palestine must end. We invite progressive forces from around the world to join our call.