Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

‘The German Police is Arresting Jews for Antisemitism!’

On October 21, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Angela Merkel in Berlin. There was a protest, activists were arrested. Almost routine, except a number of people arrested were Israelis and Jews. At least one was charged for anti-semitic hate speech. The following is an interview with Dror Dayan, a film student originally from Jerusalem who has lived in Berlin for ten years.

Nathaniel Flakin

October 31, 2015
Facebook Twitter Share

What was the background of the rally last Wednesday?

The night before the demonstration, I had returned from Jerusalem. For two weeks, I had to experience the right-wing hysteria and the Palestinian’s fear of the police. That’s why I made a sign in German: “Netanyahu: War Criminal and Holocaust Denier.”

The day before, Netanyahu had claimed at the Zionist World Congress that the idea for the Holocaust came not from Hitler, but rather from the Palestinian Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. I’d never heard this claim – well, I’d only heard it from so-called “Antideutsche” youth here in Germany.

This is clearly historical revisionism – I don’t think Netanyahu has made claims like this before. For him, foreign policy is always directed to his voters at home. I doubt he wanted to make such waves internationally. He was only talking to his base in Israel and his lobby groups in other countries.

Netanyahu’s comments were condemned around the world. The German government replied, “We’re responsible for the Holocaust.” Numerous Israeli scholars have said Netanyahu’s comments are wind in the sails of Holocaust deniers.

‘Netanyahu: “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews”.’ Photo by Ben Avak

But is he actually denying the Holocaust?

Netanyahu is using this catastrophe of the 20th century cynically for his political agenda. For me, that’s a kind of Holocaust denial. I believe that German law prohibits any relativization of the responsibility of the Nazis. On electronicintifada.net, Ali Abunimah argues that according to historical records, the annihilation of the Jews began in the summer of 1941. But according to Netanyahu, Hitler only got the idea from the Mufti in November of 1941. So that means there can’t have been any systematic murders before that. That means Netanyahu is denying almost half a year of the annihilation of the Jews.

How did the rally proceed?

About 100 people—mostly Palestinians, but also Israelis, Iranians, Americans and Germans— protested against Netanyahu in front of the Federal Chancellery. After 20 minutes, two police officers came up to me. They pointed at my sign and, confusingly, told me they had “potential suspicion” of a crime. They wanted me to go over to a police van with them. But I wasn’t going to censor myself. So they led me away.

At that moment another Israeli yelled out, “The German police is arresting Jews for antisemitism!” Yes, and in the same city from which my grandfather had to flee to escape the Nazis.

After my detention, other demonstrators made new signs. One said, “Haaretz: ‘Netanyahu: Hitler Didn’t Want to Exterminate the Jews’.” So a quote from Netanyahu out of an Israeli paper. The person carrying this sign was arrested for “hate speech”! He asked, “Shouldn’t they arrest Netanyahu for Holocaust denial?”

In total, half a dozen people were arrested.

What were you charged with?

I was accused of a violation of paragraph 103 of the legal code–Insulting a foreign head of state or member of a foreign government. This can be punished by up to three years in prison and, in the case of “defamation,” up to five years. Unfortunately, they didn’t tell me whether the crime was calling Netanyahu a “war criminal” or a “Holocaust denier.”

So my sign was confiscated, but after an hour, I was released and could go back to the rally. I really hope they press charges against me. Then they would have to prove that these signs are not accurate.

How do you see your role as an Israeli in the solidarity movement?

In the police van, an officer asked me what the demonstrators were chanting in Arabic – I think they hadn’t realised until this moment that I wasn’t an Arab.

At every protest, I see how the police treat people who they consider Muslim much worse than us Israelis. German society is very racist – the voices of white Jews are much more likely to be heard than the voices of Palestinians. I always find that painful. But we Israelis need to be the ones who demand a boycott of the state of Israel. If the victims of the occupation raise this demand, they are accused of anti-Semitism. This hypocrisy of the German government means that the people who are most directly affected are simply not heard.

People here need to understand that anti-Zionism is not the same as antisemitism. We Israelis can explain this. So the role of Israelis here is incredibly important. In France, England or any other European state, tens of thousands of left-wing people go out on the streets to show solidarity with the Palestinians. In England, even the leader of the opposition expresses solidarity. That is unthinkable here.

This interview was originally published in Exberliner.

Facebook Twitter Share

Nathaniel Flakin

Nathaniel is a freelance journalist and historian from Berlin. 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 has appeared in German, in English, and in French. He is on the autism spectrum.



The French Union Bureaucracy Walks Back Demand for Complete Withdrawal of Pension Reform

After calling to put the pension reform “on hold,” the Inter-Union has requested “mediation,” even though the French government has rejected outright the proposal, showing that compromise is impossible. This proposition symbolizes the Inter-Union’s strategy of defeat. We urgently need to organize the rank and file to broaden our demands and generalize the strike.

Damien Bernard

March 30, 2023
A group of protesters, in the front of whom are a line of protesters wearing red vests. In the front right corner, a white sign reds "vive la retraite," with a skeleton wearing a red hat in the middle of the sign on a black background with a text bubble on its left that reads, "oiv a bosse, c'est pas pour en crever!"

“French March”: The Right to Revolutionary Optimism

Evoking memories of '68, the students enter the fight against Macron. In our chaotic world, the future can only be built in the streets.

Eduardo Castilla

March 26, 2023

On Monday, Germany Will Experience a “Mega-Strike”

On March 27, German railway workers and public sector employees will shut down the whole country. All trains are being canceled. Airports, freeways, hospitals, and daycare centers will all be affected.

Nathaniel Flakin

March 25, 2023

France: On the Frontlines of the War Against Austerity

The French masses have raised the banner of class struggle in what is becoming the first major battle against austerity after the pandemic. Working people across the world should pay attention.

James Dennis Hoff

March 25, 2023


“We Deserve a Living Wage:” on the Limits of the New Temple Grad Worker Contract 

A graduate worker at Temple reflects on the limits and strengths of the new contract won in the recent strike.

Femicide: The Face of a Patriarchal Capitalist Society

On March 8, the feminist movement flooded the streets of Mexico as part of a global day of mobilization. Among these thousands of women and dissidents, the main demand was an end to femicide and sexist violence.

Yara Villaseñor

March 31, 2023

Biden’s Proposed Budget Nothing but Empty Promises 

Earlier this month, Joe Biden announced his budget proposal, with a lot of promises. But the only thing we know he’ll deliver is that “nothing will fundamentally change.”

Molly Rosenzweig

March 31, 2023

At Least 39 Migrants Die in Fire at Detention Center in Mexico. The State Is Responsible.

The events of March 27 marked one of the darkest chapters in the Mexican State’s anti-immigrant policy, a policy that is increasingly subordinated to the interests of U.S. imperialism.