On Saturday night, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was lit up with the Israeli flag. Careful observers noticed orange blotches on the column — these were leftovers from a climate protest several weeks ago. The Israeli flag appeared to have blood stains. The symbolism was perfect: While the German establishment project declares its unwavering support for the Israeli government, it can’t quite hide the fact that colonialism and apartheid are inherently bloody affairs.
On Saturday, five parties in the Bundestag — CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP, and Greens — published a joint statement declaring their support for the State of Israel and its “right to self-defense.” The far-right AfD, for its part, made an almost identical declaration. Even the reformist left party DIE LINKE, represented by chairperson Janine Wissler, issued a one-sided condemnation of “terrorism.”1Just a few years ago, Wissler was part of a post-Trotskyist organization that defended the basic rights of Palestinians.
There is a perfect consensus across the political spectrum. Not a single voice is defending the rights of the people trapped in Gaza — the world’s largest open-air prison — to defend themselves against bombs and blockades. Quite the opposite: Germany is providing material and financial support for the bombing.
Chancellor Scholz signed a joint declaration together with Emmanuel Macron, Giorgia Meloni, Rishi Sunak, and Joe Biden declaring “steadfast and united support to the State of Israel.” They condemned the fact that “Hamas terrorists massacred families in their homes,” yet as the IDF massacres families in their homes, these imperialist governments express their explicit support. Scholz has thus given Israel a blank check to blockade and bomb the two million people of Gaza, while simultaneously persecuting Palestinians in Germany.
A pro-Israel demonstration at Brandenburg Gate on Saturday afternoon was surprisingly tiny, with just a few hundred people, despite the fact that numerous well-known politicians were present. All pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Berlin are banned. In fact, all public solidarity with Palestine has been prohibited for the last two years. On the 75th anniversary of the Nakba in May, Berlin police banned all Palestinian demonstrations, and then violently attacked a Jewish demonstration in support of Palestinians’ right to assemble. As we have reported, German authorities are trying to deport Palestinian activists.
In recent days, police have been stopping and detaining young people for the crime of appearing to be of Arab origin. There is a huge police presence in Berlin’s Neukölln district, around Hermannplatz and Sonnnenallee, which is a center of the city’s Palestinian and Arab communities. Bizarrely, isolated reports of small celebrations of Palestinian military victories are being investigated as cases of “endorsement of criminal acts” — at the exact same time that German politicians are cheering for Israeli war crimes.
In one particularly disturbing episode, on Monday a student at a high school in Neukölln held up a Palestinian flag — and was punched in the face by a teacher. In response, the school suspended not the teacher but the student! On Wednesday morning, 30 students and parents tried to hold a rally on the sidewalk in front of the school against this racist violence — this was also banned by Berlin police.
Bourgeois politicians in Germany, from the reformist Left to the Far Right, justify their support for Israel’s government as a lesson of the Holocaust — they claim to be fighting against antisemitism. But the Federal Republic of Germany is totally passive in the face of antisemitism from mainstream society. After 1945, the war profiteers who made billions from genocide were quickly amnestied, if they were even tried for their crimes. Today, the German economy is still controlled by Nazi billionaires. West Germany was built by Nazi judges, bureaucrats, teachers, etc.
More recently, we’ve seen cases like the conservative politician Hans-Georg Maaßen, who for years served as the head of the domestic intelligence service known as the Verfassungsschutz or “protectors of the constitution” (which was founded by Nazi war criminals and has countless connections to Nazis today). In recent years, Maaßen has outed himself as a virulent antisemite, raving against “globalists” who control migration patterns and are responsible for the “climate hoax.” Maaßen remains a member of the conservative party CDU in good standing. And he is no isolated case: a newspaper revealed that as a teenager, the Bavarian politician Hubert Aiwanger distributed out antisemitic fliers at school — he remains the vice-premiere of the state government. Every week, there is news of Nazi sentiments expressed by German police in private chats.
When the German establishment talks about “fighting antisemitism,” they are not talking about the antisemitic tirades of Elon Musk, who is still getting public subsidies to build a factory near Berlin. No, the work of official “antisemitism commissioners” is almost exclusively directed against foreigners. The repression hits Palestinians primarily, but even non-Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews. If it were truly interested in fighting antisemitism, Germany could, for example, offer passports to the descendants of Holocaust survivors. Instead, authorities impose all kinds of racist bureaucratic hurdles, denying passports to people whose ancestors lacked German citizenship.
Germany’s support for Israel has nothing to do with fighting antisemitism. Solidarity with Netanyahu’s right-wing government serves a double purpose. Domestically, it helps justify repression against immigrant communities. German state racism can thus be presented as something humanistic and liberal — deportations in the name of universalism. At a time when German imperialism is rapidly increasing its military capacities, state-sponsored ideology is working to brand any opposition to military occupation as retrograde. Internationally, Israel has long served as a pro-imperialist gendarme in a resource-rich region. The German government is doing its part to ensure that the Middle East remains under the control of the West.
The Zeitenwende, the rebirth of German militarism, has led to an incredibly reactionary climate in Germany today. Yet it’s important to note that the current repression is necessary precisely because the population, despite all the pro-imperialist propaganda, remains deeply unenthusiastic about new wars.
Revolutionary socialists in Germany remain steadfast in our solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people. We continue to fight for our vision of a world without borders, including a socialist Palestine, in which Jews, Palestinians, and other peoples can live together in conditions of peace and equality.