Germany curtail freedom of speech on Palestine protest


Islamabad: 1 May 2024: A concerning uptick in the repression of the Palestinian solidarity movement that has been going on in Germany and throughout the West for the past six months was marked by the violent disruption and eventual cancellation of the pro-Palestine conference. German police broke into the Palestine Congress, which was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, DiEM25, and civil rights organizations.

They took over the venue, confiscated microphones, and arrested a few attendees.
Then, in an unusual action, it imposed a “Betätigungsverbot” (ban on activities) against Yanis Varoufakis, Ghassan Abu-Sitta, and Salman Abu-Sitta — three of the keynote speakers. Yanis Varoufakis, a prominent member of the global progressive movement and former Greek Finance Minister, will therefore not be permitted to talk about Palestine in Germany, not even via a Zoom call, and it is unclear whether he will be able to stand with the German party DiEM25 in the run-up to the European elections in June.

The intervention made it crystal clear that these days in Germany any and all criticism of the State of Israel and its conduct in Gaza is considered anti-Semitism and treated as such. Juxtaposed with the newfound acceptance of far-right figures with documented histories of anti-Semitism due to their defence of Israeli policies against Palestinians, it paints a depressing picture for freedom of speech in one of Europe’s most powerful democracies.

The contrast here is stark. Pro-Israel politicians from the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), including those who are under trial for using literal Nazi slogans, can freely speak on the Israeli war on Palestine under the guise of “fighting anti-Semitism”, but Ghassan Abu-Sittah, the Palestinian surgeon and rector of Glasgow University who worked in Gaza hospitals and documented war crimes during this latest Israeli assault on the Palestinian enclave cannot give his testimony to the German public.

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