23 December 2014

Brighton Police Arrest Santa!

Santa is Nicked as Protestors Shut Down Barclays Bank 

An amusing video has emerged of police arresting a man dressed up as Father Christmas during an anti-arms protest outside a Barclays branch in Brighton on Friday.

The footage shows the man being led away by police after he superglued his hands to the glass doors of a Barclays branch in the city centre.

The man can be seen wearing a sign saying "Santa says you've been a very naughty bank this year: Divest from the arms trade", in opposition to the bank's alleged collusion with an Israeli-based arms company.

According to local reports, the man was arrested along with another protestor who locked himself to a side door with bike locks.

The protest forced the branch to close for around 15 minutes.  

15 December 2014

Truth Commission on Nakba

Israelis rattled by search for truth about the Nakba

14 December 2014 

First ‘truth commission’ avoids issue of reconciliation as veteran Israeli fighters due to confess to 1948 war crimes

Middle East Eye – 9 December 2014

The first-ever “truth commission” in Israel, to be held on Wednesday, will feature confessions from veteran Israeli fighters of the 1948 war who are expected to admit to perpetrating war crimes as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homes.

The commission is the culmination of more than decade of antagonistic confrontations between a small group of activists called Zochrot, the Hebrew word for Remembering, and the Israeli authorities as well as much of the Jewish public.

Founded in 2002, Zochrot is dedicated to educating Israeli Jews about what Palestinians call the Nakba, Arabic for catastrophe, referring to Israel’s creation on the ruins of their homeland more than six decades ago. The group also campaigns for the right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel, probably the biggest taboo in Israeli society.

The commission, which has no official standing, could be the first of several such events around Israel, to investigate atrocities and war crimes committed in different localities, said Liat Rosenberg, Zochrot’s director.
“We have looked to other such commissions around the world as models, most obviously in South Africa,” she said. “But unlike the one there, ours does not include the element of reconciliation because the conflict here has yet to be resolved.

“We cannot talk about reconciliation when the Nakba is ongoing. We are still in a situation where there is apartheid, constant violations of human rights and 70 percent of the Palestinian community are refugees.”

The commission is likely to provoke outrage from the Israeli government, which passed the so-called Nakba Law in 2011 to try to make it harder to commemorate Palestinian suffering. The impact of the law is being widely felt. Just last month, the culture ministry vowed to block a government grant to a Tel Aviv cultural centre that hosted a Zochrot film festival on the Nakba.

Names kept secret

Rosenberg said Israeli veteran fighters and Palestinian witnesses participating in the truth commission had asked for their names to be kept secret until the hearings for fear that friends and family would put pressure on them to withdraw.

The commission is being held in the city of Beersheva, a once-Bedouin town that was ethnically cleansed in 1948 and is today the largest Jewish city in the Negev region in southern Israel.
Zochrot said it had chosen the city to host the first event event because forced expulsions of Bedouin from the Negev had taken place not only in 1948, but had continued on a large scale, out of view of observers, for many years afterwards.

The commission is the latest project by Zochrot that discredits a traditional Israeli narrative that some 750,000 Palestinians left under orders from Arab leaders and that Israel’s army acted only in self-defence. Such beliefs have fed into the common assumption from the Israeli public that Israel’s army is the “most moral in the world”.

Israeli right-wingers try to stop commemoration of Nakba
“This is not just about researching the truth,” said Rosenberg. “The truth of the Nakba is to a large degree known, but the task is to expose the truth to the Israeli Jewish public – both so that it is forced to take responsibility for what happened and so there can be accountability.”

The commission is the direct result of a project launched by Zochrot two years ago to create an alternative archive of the Nakba, based on filmed testimonies from Palestinian refugees and Israeli veterans. Activists fear that, as the generation of refugees and fighters dies off, they will take their secrets to the grave.

Israeli military archives relating to the 1948 war began being opened to academics in the late 1980s. This led to a group of so-called “new historians” overturning the traditional accounts of that period and unearthing written evidence of massacres and ethnic cleansing operations for the first time.

Archives closed

However, historians have reported in recent years that the Israeli authorities have become more reluctant to open files and many of the more controversial episodes of the 1948 war are still unclear.
Rosenberg hopes the commission will begin to fill some of the gaps.

According to Rosenberg, three Israeli fighters and three Palestinian witnesses will testify before a panel of six commissioners. The commissioners will then question them further about events and make follow up recommendations.

The hearings are due to be streamed online.

One veteran of the fighting in the Negev, Amnon Neumann, has already gone on record in testimony that can be seen in Zochrot’s film archive.

He has said the Bedouin in the Negev – contrary to popular Israeli perception – put up almost no resistance to advancing Jewish forces because they lacked “a military capacity” and “had no weapons”. Nonetheless, he said, the Israeli army terrified the Bedouin villagers out of their homes by shooting either at them, or above their heads.

“We drove them out. Women and children went to Gaza. … By the morning there was nobody there. We burnt their houses,” Neumann said.

When villagers tried to sneak back to tend crops or vineyards under the cover of night, he recounted, the soldiers opened fire. “We would shoot and kill them. This was part of the horrible things we did.”
In other filmed testimony, Mordechai Bar-On, an officer in 1948 with the Givati Brigade, confirmed that orders were to shoot “infiltrators” – a reference to refugees who tried to return to their villages. 

“Even if there were women and children. I remember I told myself that we would do it. … There was an order to kill, not even catch them,” Bar-On said.

For the most part, the Israeli veterans are coming forward now out of a feeling of guilt.

“At that time I did not see anything wrong with what we were doing,” Neumann said. “If I was told to do things that I do not want to mention [here], I did them with no doubts at all. … Not now. It is already 50, 60 years that I am filled with regret.”

But challenges remain, and despite veterans coming forward, piecing together events can still be difficult.

Rosenberg said many of those giving filmed testimony, including Neumann, have been reluctant to go into details of the war crimes they participated in. It is now hoped that the questioning by the commissioners will encourage participants to be even more forthcoming.
Put on trucks to Gaza
The commission will also move beyond the 1948 period and examine expulsions in the semi-desert Negev region, comprising nearly two-thirds of Israel’s landmass, for the 12 years following the war.
Isolated from the rest of the new state of Israel, the Negev was largely unmonitored as the Israeli military carried out expulsions of Bedouin throughout the 1950s, said Raneen Jeries, a Zochrot organiser.

More than 2,000 Palestinian inhabitants of al-Majdal, which later became the Jewish city of Ashkelon, were put on trucks and shipped to Gaza nearly two years after the war ended, according to Nur Masalha, a Palestinian historian and expert on Israeli “transfer” policies.

Jeries said the legacy of the events of 1948 was being felt to this day, with policies of expulsion continuing in the Negev and the occupied territories.

Haaretz reporter Amira Hass revealed three months ago that the Israeli military was planning to forcibly relocate for a second time the Jahalin tribe. The tribe was driven out of the Negev in 1948 and fled to the safety of the West Bank, then under Jordanian control. However, Israel occupied the land after the 1967 war, and it seems that Israeli authorities now want to expel some 12,500 Jahalin tribes people, this time to a site near Jericho.

Zochrot had been successful in forcing Israelis to recognise the Nakba and a darker side to the 1948 war, said Neve Gordon, a politics professor at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva, where the truth commission is to be held.

“A decade ago, if I mentioned the Nakba in a class of 150 students, hardly any of them would have known what I meant. Now 80 or 90 per cent would know,” Gordon told MEE.

Gordon also attributed the change both to Zochrot’s activities and statements by Arab legislators representing Israel’s large Palestinian minority, comprising a fifth of the total population.

Law against commemoration

But as the issue of the Nakba has become more visible in Israel, sensitivity about it has only grown. Ahead of Nakba Day last May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at the Palestinian Authority for commemorating the day, saying: “They are standing silent to mark the tragedy of the establishment of Israel, the state of the Jewish people.”

Palestinians were educating their children with “endless propaganda” calling for the disappearance of Israel, he said.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett went further, saying: “We need not tolerate Israeli Arabs who promote Nakba Day.”

The government has backed up its rhetoric with legislation, passing a Nakba Law in 2011 that denies public funds to institutions and organisations that commemorate the Palestinians’ dispossession. The measure is partly seen as a reaction to Zochrot’s growing success.

The original legislation, which would have criminalised any commemoration of the Nakba – making many of Zochrot’s activities illegal – was water-downed after Israel came under strong international pressure.

In Zochrot’s early years, its main efforts were directed at escorting Israeli Jews and Palestinian refugees to some of the more than 500 Palestinian villages that Israel destroyed during and after the 1948 war. The villages were razed to prevent refugees from returning home.

The remnants of most of the villages are now barely traceable, hidden under forests planted by a charity called the Jewish National Fund or lost within gated communities in which only Jews can live.
Zochrot has continued such visits, placing signposts to remind the new Jewish inhabitants that their communities are built on the ruins of Palestinian homes, often belonging to neighbours living a short distance away. A large proportion of Israel’s Palestinian minority were internally displaced by the 1948 war and live close to their original homes but are barred from returning.

Backlash on campuses

Eitan Bronstein, who founded Zochrot, said the current challenge was how to change Israeli Jews’ perception of the Nakba.

“They now recognise the word but what does it mean to them? Many, it seems, think it is simply a negative label Palestinians have attached to Israel’s establishment. We have an Independence Day that they call their Nakba,” Bronstein said.

“We need to educate them about the events of the Nakba, what occurred and our responsibility for it. They have to stop thinking of it as just propaganda against Israel.”

The right wing, including the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, has grown increasingly rattled by Zochrot’s agenda-setting programme of events.

The popularity of a far-right youth movement, Im Tirtzu, has grown rapidly on Israeli university campuses over the past few years, in part as a backlash to commemorations of the Nakba by Zochrot and Palestinian students.

Last month, when Zochrot held its second Nakba and Right of Return Film Festival in Tel Aviv, the culture minister, Limor Livnat, immediately threatened to pull a government grant worth more than $450,000 from the cinema that hosted it.

“The state cannot bear the cost of funding of an entity that encourages debate over what the Palestinians call ‘the right of return’,” Livnat said in a statement. She was reported to have based her decision on her reading of the Nakba Law.

“The antagonism towards Zochrot and the idea of the Nakba is part of the educational process,” said Bronstein. “It is a necessary phase Israel needs to pass through if we are to get to a point of reconciliation.”

Unfazed by threats

Bronstein and others have faced angry opposition from the Israeli public and police as they have tried to stage Nakba commemorations – most notably in Tel Aviv in 2012, when they were surrounded by riot police for four hours. Three Zochrot activists were arrested.

Yet Zochrot’s organisers, whose members include both Jewish and Palestinian citizens, seem largely unfazed by the threats and hostility their group generates.

Last year Zochrot arranged a conference that for the first time examined not just the principle of the right of return but practical ways to implement it.

This year the group launched a phone app, called iNakba, in three languages, which provides users with detailed maps and information on the destroyed villages.

Jeries said it had had thousands of downloads, giving Israelis for the first time the chance to peel away the subsequent layers of construction and forestation to see what was destroyed, often on their doorstep.

- See more at

ISM in Hebron "I hate Arabs. I wish I could kill them all."

An Interesting Account of ISM Activists in Hebron and the Everyday Brutality of the Israeli Army

Tony Greenstein

by RICHARD HARDIGAN, 14.12.14.

Anti-Arab slogans were not new to me. “Tomorrow there is no school in Gaza; there are no children left”, had been chanted during the recent Gaza massacre by angry fascist mobs in Tel Aviv. I had seen “Gas the Arabs” spray painted in black letters on the walls of the closed shops in Hebron’s H2 district. But I had never heard such sentiments uttered so calmly before. The effect was chilling.

A young Israeli soldier, a sniper, was talking to us, and we were in Hebron, in the West Bank, which has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967. The soldier did not tell us his name, but he said he would be very proud if we would publish his photo, and he posed for the camera with two members of his sniper team. All three were carrying their rifles over their shoulders, and they were smiling. One was flashing a victory sign. I couldn’t help but wonder what the victory was to which he was referring. He had just shot an unarmed eighteen-year-old Palestinian boy who had thrown two stones from the roof of a building three hundred meters away. Whom had the soldier defeated? What was the struggle that our hero had endured before finally emerging victorious? Perhaps the struggle had not really been between this soldier and his Palestinian victim, as the western media would have us believe. Maybe it had been a conflict between humanity and compassion on one side, and oppression, racism and intolerance on the other. I knew which side had won today.

Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian activist Imad Altrash
 I had spent the last two months working for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in Palestine. On the ISM website, it describes itself as “a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the long-entrenched and systematic oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian population, using non-violent, direct-action methods and principles”. I had been in Hebron for the last two weeks, and I was supposed to fly back home from Tel Aviv two days later, but I was concerned. ISMers are always worried during the days before they are scheduled to leave the country. They anticipate intense questioning and searching at the airport, so it’s crucial for them to have their stories in order. One wrong answer and one could be prohibited from ever entering Israel again. Jason, a sixty-year-old activist from Liverpool and one of my ISM colleagues, kept telling me not to worry.

“The soldiers at the airport are so stupid that they’ll believe anything you say.”

Helga, a German ISMer in her early twenties, on the other hand, insisted that we practice my story.

What were you doing in Israel? Why were you here for so long? Israel is small. How can you spend two months in such a tiny country? Why do you have a beard? You’re forty years old. Why are you not married?” I didn’t have an answer to most of those questions (especially the last one), but I was prepared to tell them that I was a divinity student working on a paper, and that I needed to conduct my research in Bethlehem. I even had a working title. “Does Luke’s claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem at the time of Quirinius’ census match the historical record?” The officials at the airport couldn’t possibly question that, could they?
Israeli soldiers occupy Palestinian house
If your goal was to pass through the exit procedure at the airport smoothly, there were several basic rules you had to follow. You were not allowed to have entered the West Bank (except to visit Bethlehem), and in fact you would be tempting fate if you even mentioned the West Bank at all. You had to have spent your entire visit in Israel. This meant you needed pictures. Lots of them. Of Israel.

My hard drive contained shots of events I had witnessed all over the West Bank. There are weekly demonstrations in the village of Kufr Qaddum, south of Nablus, where the Israelis closed an access road to Palestinians, allowing only settlers to use it. Here Israeli soldiers routinely attack protestors with everything from tear gas to live ammunition to skunk water, a foul smelling substance fired from a water cannon that is so malodorous that you can detect its presence on your clothes up to five years later. I attended four of these demos, and I had several images of the bloodied victims of a particularly brutal Israeli attack. Then there were the pictures of the funeral of a mentally handicapped man murdered by Israeli soldiers in the El-Ein refugee camp in Nablus. The IDF routinely enters refugee camps at night to make its presence known, and on this occasion they had come upon a man returning home from the local mosque. After the man did not follow the army’s instructions to put up his hands, presumably because he did not understand them, soldiers shot him four times – three times in the stomach and once in the chest. My video showed an angry crowd carrying the victim’s body, wrapped in the red, green, white and black Palestinian flag, through the narrow streets of the camp. I’m sure these were not the kinds of pictures the border officials were looking for.

Jason provided me with an SD card filled with pictures of the Wailing Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Mount of Olives, among other tourist destinations in Jerusalem. But I still believed my colleague Charlie had the best advice of all regarding getting out of Israel.

“If you want to make it through the airport, just wear an IDF t-shirt.”

El Khalil (Hebron is its Hebrew name), with approximately 250,000 Palestinians, between 500 and 850 Jewish settlers, and 4000 Israeli soldiers to protect them, is the most populous city in the Occupied Territories. Hebron is a city under occupation, and just like in the rest of the West Bank, Israel uses both its armed forces and its settlers to punish the people of Hebron for their existence. But Hebron is different in another way. Only here do the Israeli settlers actually live inside the city itself, including many who live in an area close to the hub of the city, designated as H2. (H1 is the part of the city over which the Palestinian authorities have control.) H2 contains the famous Shuhada street, a formerly busy shopping area that was closed to Palestinian access in response to the Goldstein massacre of 1994. In February of that year Baruch Goldstein, a thirty-seven-year-old American doctor and religious zealot, opened fire on Muslim worshipers in the Ibrahimi mosque, continuing to shoot until he had no ammunition left. He killed 29 Palestinians, wounding another 125 and was himself beaten to death after the carnage. On Goldstein’s tomb, which became a pilgrimage site for Israeli religious extremists, are written the words “He gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah and land”.

The area around Shuhada street is now a veritable ghost town, since the only Palestinians who are allowed to enter, which they must do through one of the checkpoints, are those who live in H2. This rule was instituted by the Israeli authorities shortly after the massacre and has destroyed the neighborhood’s once thriving economy. Today settlers live in various parts of H2, including Tel Rumeida, a hill that overlooks the old city.

The ISM apartment in Tel Rumeida is a safe haven to us. Not only is it where we live and eat and sleep, but it also provides a respite from the violence and the injustice that we witness almost on a daily basis. Although I had been there for only two weeks, I definitely felt a strong connection to it. My favorite part of the house was the roof. I would sleep there every night and be awoken in the morning by the muezzin of a nearby mosque. The roof afforded me spectacular views over all of Hebron. Since the house is located on a street used both by settlers and Palestinians, the roof also allowed us to witness some of the daily conflicts that occurred between the two groups.

The apartment is known by the Israeli soldiers and settlers as the “Anarchista House”. It felt strange to know that the people that think of you as their enemy know exactly where you live. And these weren’t ordinary people. All soldiers and some settlers are heavily armed, with the shoulder-slung M-16 seeming to be the ubiquitous weapon of choice in Tel Rumeida. There’s a sign on the inside of our front door warning us not to ever let IDF soldiers enter the apartment, not under any circumstances. But how do eight unarmed volunteers stop one of the world’s most powerful armies from entering if it wants to?

Twenty four hours a day there are at least two soldiers keeping watch about ten meters down the hill from our house. Some of the soldiers are friendly and will smile or nod at us, but most simply glare at us hatefully. They resent our presence. Charlie tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. “They don’t want to be here. They’re just following orders,” he said. It was a tired refrain that you find in armies all over the world and in my mind is most often associated with former Nazi soldiers who try to justify their actions during the Holocaust. We sometimes try to communicate with them, but most often their English is too broken for any meaningful exchange, even if that was what they desired.

Today the soldiers below us were excited. Four of their colleagues commandeered the roof of a nearby house that is owned by a Palestinian family. It was a sniper team. We were on the roof of our building, almost directly behind them, and we could follow the direction of their gun sights to see where they were aiming. Three hundred meters away there were two Palestinian youths milling around on the roof of a not-yet-completed three story building.

Juan and Miguel, two Spanish ISMers, joined Jason and me on the roof, and we considered our options.

“Yell at the soldiers! Throw stones at them! Run up to them and distract them!” None of the ideas seemed reasonable. Jason and Miguel decided to run down to the three story building to warn the youths, while Juan and I stayed on our roof to monitor the situation. After fifteen minutes I received a phone call from Jason, who passed me on to a young Palestinian man.

“Tell those kids to get off the roof! There are snipers, and they’re going to kill them!” I yelled into the phone with my limited colloquial Arabic. After a few seconds, the phone went dead.

My heart seemed to be beating in my throat, as I watched the boys and the soldiers and waited. Did they understand my advice? Would they heed it? Would the soldiers shoot them before they had a chance to escape?

Every evening we have a meeting in the apartment at which we discuss our failures and successes of the day, and we make plans for the next twenty-four hours. We also talk about our feelings. ISM work is difficult, and it can be emotionally taxing. When you witness extreme injustice and you constantly see unnecessary suffering, it can wear on you. That’s what this component of the discussion is about. To give us all a chance to share our thoughts and worries and to know that we are not alone in what we fear. It is my favorite part of the meeting. Yesterday Miguel, in his thick Spanish accent, asked, “It is useless. These fucking soldiers do what they want anyway. Why are we even here?” It is a feeling and a fear we all share to some extent, and it is a topic that seems to come up a lot.
I was reminded of Miguel’s words as the young men on the roof suddenly scampered behind a water tank, appearing to hide. I felt euphoric. There was no doubt now. I had made a difference. It was because of me that these kids had not been shot.

The euphoria vanished quickly as the teenagers on the roof re-appeared from behind the water tank. Even worse, one of them languidly picked up a stone and tossed it from the building. Then another one. I picked up my camera and started filming, because I knew that this was the moment the soldiers had been waiting for. According to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem, “the army’s open-fire regulations clearly stipulate that live ammunition should not be used against stone-throwers, except in cases of immediate mortal danger.”

But I knew better. A shot rang out, the sound loud enough to startle me, although I had been expecting it, causing my camera to shake. One of the men on the roof fell down and then hobbled to safety behind a pillar. It turns out that he was shot in the calf, and later pictures appeared on the ISM website of a cast covering his whole leg.

What happened next was possibly even more disturbing. One soldier grabbed the marksman’s leg, another slapped his hand on the ground in celebration. The mood appeared light. There were smiles and laughter. A soldier imitated the hapless victim’s motions after he was shot, grabbing his leg, limping around. They appeared to be entertained by the whole incident. It was almost as if they were acting in a movie, which, unbeknownst to them, they were.

My friend Charlie became incensed, and he ran downstairs and out into the street. A short, pudgy, unassuming Australian, he was one of the colleagues of mine that I admired most. Four years ago, walking down the street in Tel Rumeida, Charlie had been attacked by a group of Hebron settlers that had beaten him unconscious with a metal pipe, breaking his nose in the process. He remembered little about the incident, but it did take him several years to work up the courage to return to Palestine. But now he was back here in Hebron, confronting soldiers and settlers alike.

“Do you feel good, shooting unarmed children like that?”, he yelled at one of the soldiers, snapping his picture. The soldier grinned.

“I hate Arabs. I wish I could kill them all.”

After a week ISM published the video I took on its website and on Youtube. It received quite a bit of attention, and the Israeli army even responded by sanctioning the soldiers for their behavior, although it did not reveal the terms of the punishment. Military officials did insist that the boys on the roof had been a legitimate target, since they had been throwing Molotov cocktails, a statement that was a complete and utter fabrication. Instead, they explained that it was the soldiers’ celebratory behavior that had been deemed inappropriate and had been the cause for their punishment.

The mood at the meeting the evening of the shooting was somber. We had all been in demonstrations where the army used live ammunition, and most of us had seen Palestinians get shot, but usually the bullets seemed to come from nowhere, out of a cloud of teargas. The connection between the shooter and the victim was tenuous, and we usually saw only the victim. We did not see the shooter, and we could pretend that he didn’t exist, or at least that he was not human. This time it was different. This sniper was real. 

He sweated, and he smiled. And he had shot that boy. For no reason. And he had laughed about it. I just couldn’t come to grips with it.
But tomorrow I would go to Jerusalem, and then the next day I was to fly out of Tel Aviv, and I needed to practice what I would say to the airport officials. What was the title of my divinity paper again?

Richard Hardigan is a university professor in the United States.

VIDEO (see above): Soldiers and Settlers Attack Palestinians, ISM Volunteers in Hebron

author Wednesday July 02, 2014 05:48author by International Solidarity Movement Report post
For the past two days in al-Khalil (Hebron) Israeli soldiers have stopped and searched many Palestinians in Tel Rumeida. At approximately 22:00 two nights ago, a colonial settler began aggressively photographing Palestinian children who were playing football in the street on Tel Rumeida hill. Two ISM activists began filming her.
She then approached one ISM volunteer and pushed the camera very close to his face.

Other settlers arrived and began to harass the Palestinian children and tried to steal their football. The settlers also began to push some of the Palestinians. One settler tried to force entry into a Palestinian shop whilst shouting, “I’m going to butcher you”.

A group of Israeli soldiers initially tried to block the settlers and prevent them from attacking the Palestinians, but when this was unsuccessful, decided instead to force the Palestinians to move. They attacked the Palestinians using stun grenades and pushed a number of people. The settlers and soldiers then began attacking ISM activists who were filming. The soldiers cocked their guns several times and pointed them in the faces of ISM volunteers. A soldier stamped on the foot of one of the activists.

Two ISMers, and an activist from Christian Peacemaker Teams were physically hit by settlers who tried to steal their cameras. One activist turned his back to a solider and began walking away as instructed by him and was kicked forcefully from behind in the testicles by the soldier. Soldiers then positioned themselves to prevent Palestinians from returning to their homes.

Shortly after this, around 40 Palestinians left the mosque at the top of Tel Rumeida hill and began walking down the hill towards their home. They were stopped and threatened by the soldiers. The soldiers eventually agreed to let people return home but insisted that people walk one by one. At the same time, soldiers allowed a large group of settlers to congregate at the junction. Palestinians were therefore forced to walk through the settlers alone, and were subject to intimidation and threats.

An ISM activist present: “The soldiers and settlers were very aggressive and frightening, so much was happening at one time, it was hard to know what was going on. They kept yelling at us in Hebrew and wouldn’t listen when we told them we didn’t understand. At one point a military jeep drove up a hill towards a group of Palestinians (who were leaving the mosque) and us. We were caught in a corner and couldn’t move. The jeep stopped in front of us, they threw a stun grenade first, and then several soldiers jumped out of the jeep, cocked their guns in our faces, and yelled at us in Hebrew. They were so angry, it felt like they wanted to shoot us.”

During this time, the Shamsiyeh family was attacked by settlers (15-year-old Awne Shamsiyeh was recently interviewed by ISM). The settlers entered their garden and forced cameras in their faces. One settler punched a Palestinian woman. Another female settler, who appeared to be around 17-years-old, hit an 11-year-old Palestinian child on the hand with a rock causing swelling and bruising.

The soldiers did nothing to prevent the attack, but instead shouted at the Palestinian family and ordered them back into their house.

At approximately 22:00, settlers from the illegal settlement Tel Rumeida erected a fence blocking a Palestinian home, preventing the family from reaching their house.

The Hebron district is a site of frequent aggression, by Israeli soldiers and settlers, towards Palestinian residents and their property. See related link.

14 December 2014

The Cowardice of Gregor Gysi - Die Linke and its Stalinist Leader, Gregor Gysi, Scab on the Palestinians

Out of Guilt for the Sins of the German Political Establishment Gregor Gysi Attacks Israeli anti-Zionists Max Blumenthall and David Sheen as 'anti-Semitic'

Gysi - Stalinist Leader of Die Linke Scabs on Palestinians and Israeli anti-Zionists
Gregor Gysis, the joint leader of German left party Die Linke, has adopted the mainstream view that opposition to Zionism and Israel's policies towards the Palestinians is 'anti-Semitic'.  Gysi has done his best to endear himself to the German political establishment because he was the last 'communist' leader of East Germany and integrally involved in supporting the Stasi secret police.
Die Linke has adopted uncritically the position of uncritically supporting whatever Israel does, as a means of atoning for the holocaust.  Included in this is the smearing of  pro-Palestinian and Jewish activists as 'anti-Semitic'.  In essence this is nothing but a blatant form of guilt transferral whereby the Palestinians are paying the  price for the sins of the German Right in putting Hitler in power and conniving at the final solution.  
But Die Linke has also become more militaristic generally, calling for US bombing and intervention in the Middle East.  It raises wider questions concerning the Party.

Die Linke’s position on Palestine has isolated it from the global solidarity movement and strengthened the party’s worst elements.

Tal Bright – Political / Flickr

It was a truly bizarre scene, worthy of a Peter Sellers film: a man frantically running through the Bundestag’s lifeless corridors. Behind him, another man, David Sheen, accuses him of smears and putting his life in danger from Israeli right-wing thugs. The man is Gregor Gysi, head of the Left Party’s (Die Linke) parliamentary caucus. He walks to a bathroom and closes the door shouting to Sheen “Raus mit dir!” (“Out with you!”).

Annette Groth and Inge Höger, two Die Linke parliamentarians who were aboard the 2010 Free Gaza Flotilla, try to calm Sheen and his associate, Max Blumenthal.  What exactly happened?

It seems that Gysi went out of his way to cancel an event with Blumenthal and Sheen scheduled to take place at Die Linke’s premises in the Bundestag. Another party MP, Petra Pau, co-signed a letter along with a politician from the Green Party and a Social Democrat heading the main Israel lobbying organization in Germany, urging the Volksbühne Theatre to cancel an event with Blumenthal and Sheen scheduled for November 9.

The letter claimed Blumenthal and Sheen were a “one-sided duet” who compare Israel to Nazis, and who had the nerve to stage an anti-Israel event on the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Pandemonium ensued after the release of the video showing Gysi heading to and from the toilet. Die Linke’s reformist right-wing not only forced the party’s parliamentarians who invited Blumenthal and Sheen to apologize to Gysi, but is now openly calling for their expulsion from the caucus, more or less accusing both of them of antisemitism.

Heike Hänsel, another allegedly sympathetic MP, went as far as to openly state that she will never work with Blumenthal and Sheen again. That a German party, even a left-wing one, should be somewhat cautious in criticizing Israel, in a country where the definitions of Judaism, Israel, and Zionism have been consciously conflated for half a century, should not come as a surprise. But that parts of its top brass should actively work with the media to smear two internationally known Jewish anti-Zionists as “antisemites” is truly alarming and casts serious doubts on the party’s ability to relate to the global Palestine solidarity movement.

The history of the German left’s attitude to Israel/Palestine is truly complex and for the uninitiated foreign leftist, perplexing and occasionally shocking.

When I first moved to Germany from Cyprus during the height of the Second Intifada I didn’t pay much attention to the conflict other than instinctively lending my moral support to whoever happened to be the oppressed in this and any other conflict. But at university, I was shocked to find that when left-wing, mostly autonomist-minded activists on campus used to talk about Palestine, it wasn’t even to adopt the minimally acceptable position of condemning Israel’s brutal “pacifying” of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but to romanticize the country as some kind of Middle Eastern Cuba under threat from Nazi-inspired Palestinian suicide bombers.

Clearly this attitude was not and is not representative of the entire left on this issue, but it nevertheless points out a more problematic trajectory than in other Western European countries.
While the fact that Germany is responsible for the industrial murder of millions of Jews partially explains the German left’s Palestine problem, the East-West dimension is equally crucial; Gysi has been the official face of East German post-communism for the last twenty-five years. The case of Die Linke merits special attention here, since the inner dynamics of an outcast left-reformist party in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s modern Germany amid the contradictions of the Eurozone crisis also influence its approach to the Middle East.

The German Left and Palestine: A Brief History

Like the British Labour Party, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the trade union bureaucracy were stridently pro-Zionist in the 1950s and 60s. Postwar social democracy saw Israel as a socialist-inspired state, paving a “third way” between Western liberal capitalism and Eastern “totalitarianism.”

Such a policy was seen as permissible from a left-wing point of view. After all, German conservatives — despite paying reparations to Israel for the Holocaust — refused to establish diplomatic relations with Israel until 1965, despite secretly arming the new state. This was done ostensibly to uphold the “traditional German-Arab friendship,” but was in reality aimed at preventing a wave of recognition for the “illegitimate” German Democratic Republic (GDR) by the Arab states.
For young Marxist intellectuals on the fringes of the SPD, establishing diplomatic relations with Israel became a left-wing cause in response to a political establishment that integrated former Nazis into the state apparatus, most notably Hans Globke, a top advisor to Konrad Adenauer and co-author of the infamous Nuremberg race laws.

East Germany’s Communist government, on the other hand, had to follow the twists and turns of Stalinist foreign policy. Accordingly, the Soviet line on supporting the Zionist militias was adopted in the crucial period of 1947-49. On the other hand, the East German bureaucrats engaged in party purges in the early 1950s that effectively mobilized antisemitic sentiments against undesirable elements, prompting a Jewish exodus from East Germany.

With the Soviet Union’s pro-Arab tilt around the same time, the GDR also tried to outdo itself in anti-Israeli rhetoric to gain vital diplomatic recognition by the Arab states. The GDR was anti-Zionist insofar as it opposed Israel’s policies. But like the Soviet Union, it never questioned its settler-colonial nature, seeing Israel’s alliance with imperialism as simply a matter of bad choice. It was Israel’s territorial expansionism at the expense of Soviet allies that bothered the Eastern Bloc, not so much the discriminatory nature of its ruling ideology.

Meanwhile in the West, things were changing. Israel was now the United States’ prime ally in the Middle East, while the latter was fighting an unpopular war in Vietnam. Germany and Israel established official relations two years before and the war witnessed a multitude of pro-Zionist frenzy in the right-wing Springer press.

As Israel officially became a front-line state in the struggle against communism, West German students, organized in the Socialist German Student Association (SDS) were joining their peers in the United Kingdom, France, Scandinavia, and elsewhere, in proclaiming their solidarity with the Palestinian fedayeen. Palestinians were now not just a logistical refugee issue but visible subjects, with the more left-leaning organizations of the Palestinian Liberation Organization contributing greatly to the framing of this struggle as part of the wider endeavor for self-determination in the Global South.

After SDS disbanded in 1970, its different successor organizations also took up Palestine as a cause (although due to the German historical context, much less than in other Western countries). The most prominent examples were undoubtedly the Red Army Faction (RAF) and the Revolutionary Cells, two terrorist groups that were to a great extent armed and trained by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

While overemphasized, these were not the only examples. Palestine solidarity in one form or another existed along the entire spectrum of the Left — from the Maoist “communist groups” and Trotskyist and workerist tendencies, to the “milder” pro-Soviet German Communist Party and even the youth section of the SPD.

Death of a Movement: The Antideutsch

The collapse of a pro-Palestinian consensus is undoubtedly linked to the global retreat of the left that commenced in the late 1970s. The German radical left after 1968 was never a mass movement with a wide appeal in the working class, unlike its counterparts in Great Britain, France, and Italy. West German capitalism was better at integrating the upheaval of 1968.

In political terms, it was Social Democracy that was the main beneficiary of 1968. The radical left found itself increasingly isolated, a part of it turning to urban terrorism. The bloody crescendo reached its climax in the “German autumn” of 1977, when kidnappings and plane hijackings by the RAF ended in the deaths of two of its imprisoned founding members.

This only helped accelerate a turn away from the support of armed struggles in the Third World and toward broader ecological and pacifist movements, a turn that was given political expression by the Green Party. Some Marxist groups continued to operate but mostly ineffectually.

Meanwhile, other militant sections coalesced around the autonomist movement. The Autonomen continued to uphold anti-imperialism, including the Palestinian cause. They were a subculture as much as a movement, characterized by squatting and militant confrontations with the police. But their profound disdain for theory also made them susceptible to the effects of the cataclysmic political events that came in 1989.

In the face of a neo-Nazi offensive following reunification, a significant part of the autonomists adopted the worldview of the Antideutsch, the “anti-Germans.” These ex-Maoist remnants expressed the view that the biggest enemy for the German left to confront was the abstract notion of “Germany” as nation. An alliance was necessary with anyone perceived to be against “Germany.”

Israel did not figure prominently in the beginning of the Antideutsch movement. This changed after the outbreak of the Second Intifada and 9/11. The Antideutsch were already thrilled by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s Hitlers Willing Executioners. They now fervently applied his idea of “eliminatory antisemitism” to virtually any movement opposing US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, be it secular nationalist or Islamist.

Matthias Küntzel, an ex-Maoist and Antideutsch ideologue in the tradition of the French nouveaux philosophes, even devoted an entire book to “prove” (without the slightest knowledge of Arabic) that the ideology of Hamas and Hezbollah was “Nazi-inspired.” By this point, the hardcore of the Antideutsch bid the Left farewell, proclaiming it “dead.” Remnants of the movement have since made common cause with far-right Islamophobes.

However, the cultural aesthetics and ideas of Antideutsch — a bizarre mix of techno music, self-managed housing projects, and endless discussions on the “structural antisemitism” of the anti-globalization and Occupy movements — characterize a large share of the current German radical left. This is especially true in eastern Germany, where a strong far right often engages in a demagogic, antisemitic kind of anti-Zionism. This, incidentally, is also the part of the country where the disastrous legacy of Stalinism and the chronic weakness of organized labor are more visible.
Newspapers like Jungle World that celebrate autonomy in Chiapas, queer politics, and radical ecology are stridently pro-Israel in their outlook. It’s not that all autonomists in Germany support Israel in every instance or are indifferent to the existence of Islamophobia. But openly questioning Israeli oppression of Palestinians is deemed out of bounds, since this could open the gates to existing latent antisemitism.

When Israeli bombs fall on the Gaza Strip killing and maiming thousands, many from the alternative scene abstain from protesting in solidarity with the victims, arguing that since Hamas doesn’t present an “emancipatory alternative,” there isn’t really anyone the Left can embrace.

In this, there is an uncomfortable and often unwilling convergence of autonomist discourses with the rampant Islamophobia currently plaguing Germany, with regular attacks on mosques coupled with calls on Muslims to “integrate” and “disassociate” themselves from ISIS. When a mob of five thousand hooligans, many of them active neo-Nazis, gathered in front of Cologne’s main train station on October 26 to protest “Salafism,” the far smaller counter-demonstration assembled under the abstract slogan “against racism and religious fundamentalism,” apparently eager to disassociate itself from the Salafism.

This had the rather unsettling effect of equating young discriminated Muslims with the direct political heirs of Himmler and Goebbels.

At a subsequent meeting convened to discuss the aftermath of the demonstration, I witnessed how left-oriented German students could genuinely not fathom why the counter-protest’s slogan was outright wrong. This drew the desperate ire of a comrade of Iranian background, a symptom perhaps of a deepening rift between significant parts of the Left and Muslims living in Germany.

Enter Die Linke

Die Linke is vital terrain to struggle against this tendency. Born from a 2007 merger between those fleeing the SPD’s turn to the center — as well as activists energized by the anti-globalization and anti-war movements — and the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), the successor to the former East German ruling party, the party runs the entire gamut of the German left.

Those inside the tent include center-left trade unionists, Trotskyists, left-Keynesians, East German ex-communists, autonomists, and even an Antideutsch-inspired group with influence in the party’s youth wing. The party’s founding momentum was the result of a twin rejection of neoliberalism as well as “humanitarian intervention” abroad, which the SPD and the formerly pacifist Greens had championed in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

The question of Palestine has subsequently become a largely symbolic issue between those who see it as a matter of principle that an internationalist party should show solidarity with a liberation movement and those who envisage future Die Linke participation in a coalition government as a junior partner of the SPD and the Greens.

A layer of professional politicians from the PDS section — a mass party in the eastern states — leads the second camp. It had already participated in coalitions with the Social Democrats in a few states, including Berlin, where it has often subordinated its left-wing program to neoliberal fiscal concerns. The people currently calling for pro-Palestine MPs Annette Groth and Inge Höger to be expelled include supporters of these coalitions like Stefan Liebich, who professes to be a member of “Atlantik-Brücke,” a think tank dedicated to strengthening the German-American alliance.

They also include Klaus Lederer, Die Linke’s chairman in Berlin, who spoke at a pro-Israel rally during the 2008-09 war on Gaza. “Reflection” and “guilt” over East Germany’s record of “one-sidedness” in the conflict are stated as the main reason for this tilt to the Zionist point of view. Descending from the old GDR’s state-affiliated professional caste, it is not hard to recognize why being in government is seen as a more effective way to change things than being in a movement.
Gysi has been careful to play a more integrative role within the party. But during a speech in 2008 at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the party’s think tank, he explicitly linked the prospect of Die Linke joining a future coalition government with the acceptance of the German Staatsräson, or national interest, shared by all other parliamentary forces. In addition to acceptance of Germany’s commitment to NATO and the European Union (EU), this includes assent to its “special relationship” with Israel.
This relationship is evident in German sales of nuclear-capable submarines to Israel, as well as German vetoing of initiatives within the EU to upgrade the status of Palestine. By couching its support for Israel in moral terms, Germany is thus cynically providing a fig leaf for an otherwise morally indefensible status quo that profits its armaments industry.

On the other hand, Oskar Lafontaine, the former SPD maverick whose defection from the Social Democrats was crucial in forming Die Linke, has rarely commented on Palestine. The only exception was a 2006 radio interview during the war on Lebanon, where he spoke of an additional, indirect German responsibility towards the Palestinians.

In all of this, there has been a synergy between the Antideutsch within the party and key sections of the mainly eastern ex-Communists. The first group has engaged in smearing its political opponents as antisemites, something the latter has also taken up, since those outspoken on Palestinian rights often tend to be opposed to future participation as a junior partner government.

Mobilizing the media has been an important aspect of this slander. In 2011, a member of the Antideutsch caucus BAK Shalom – which regularly engages in occupation apologetics – published a “scientific study” on “anti-Zionist antisemitism in Die Linke” in the Frankfurter Rundschau, a mainstream daily. This caused a media storm, with the other parliamentary parties convening a special hearing in the Bundestag on Die Linke’s “antisemitism.”

Amid a subsequent heated internal debate within the party’s parliamentary caucus, a directive was issued prohibiting any discussion on the one-state solution, participation in the BDS campaign, or the second Free Gaza Flotilla. The decision was far from unanimous. Many MPs boycotted the bill, and others were forced into signing off after Gysi threatened to resign if it was rejected. While this has shielded the party from further accusations of antisemitism, it has also driven a wedge between the biggest left-wing German party and the growing global solidarity movement.

Since then, things have been quiet. The party doesn’t just unceasingly call for a two-state-solution, but has elevated it to a political identity, completely detached from realities on the ground and to be defended against Palestinian activists or Israeli leftists like the ones who called on Die Linke to disassociate itself from outfits like BAK Shalom.

However, a significant number of officials and activists actively avoid bringing up the subject, given its divisive potential. The historical weakness of the postwar German left and its constant fragmentation have led to an almost compulsive need for “unity,” even by people whose support for Palestine is not under question. This is often justified by framing the debate as a useless squabble that has no concrete effect.

Up to a certain point, this is understandable. Die Linke is engaged in a delicate effort to create a popular opposition to the powerful Merkel consensus. But this is also a dishonest approach, tantamount to denying the special responsibility of the German government in propping up the occupation, as well as the potential of the German left to actively challenge this collusion with apartheid and to engage in effective — not just symbolic — solidarity. 

Israel and German Islamophobia

The internal dynamics of Die Linke and its structural position between opposition and accommodation contribute to its position on Israel. Unfortunately, those same dynamics have prevented the party from taking a principled stance against the EU. Out of fear of being seen as veering too close to the positions of the Eurosceptic right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (“Alternative for Germany”), Die Linke has emphatically rejected questioning the wisdom of the single currency, while at the same time rightly rejecting austerity in the European South, a somewhat unconvincing and contradictory approach.

But its position on Palestine is also derivative of the wider historical and social structure. For this is not just any issue; it is closely linked to Germany’s obsessive need for an assertive new post-1990 national identity, as well as the prevailing Islamophobic climate.

Ever since the Green foreign minister Joschka Fischer justified Germany’s first combat mission since 1945 in Yugoslavia by claiming the aim was to prevent “another Auschwitz,” the historical lessons from the Holocaust have been constantly perverted by Germany´s political elite to pursue dubious political goals at home and abroad.

German pro-Zionism has had the historical function of reintegrating Germany into the “international community.” With Germany now a respected member of that community, Angela Merkel has deemed “Israel’s security” as in Germany’s national interest, which only serves to exclude German Muslims for the fictitious narrative of a “Judo-Christian legacy.”

In this, there’s a convergence with the discourse of “failed” multiculturalism. The killing of the Kilani family in Gaza and the silence of Germany’s political class is a brutal example of which German citizens are considered worthy victims and which are not. A commentary in the Welt, a right-wing daily owned by the Springer Group, even accused Muslims of indulging in constant self-victimization. The publication didn’t receive the slightest bit of backlash.

The overemphasis on “Muslim antisemitism” is a further symptom of this pervasive new ideology. Just consider the protests against Israel’s latest offensive on the Gaza Strip this summer. Media outlets were filled with reports of “Muslim antisemitism,” as antisemitic slogans were heard during spontaneous anti-war marches, where “ethnic Germans” make only a tiny minority of participants.
To be sure, the danger of antisemitism in Germany is a real one and shouldn’t be underestimated. Verbal abuse against Jews has been reported, as well as an arson attack on a synagogue in the city of Wuppertal. As Richard Seymour has shown in the case of France, this antisemitism also exists within Muslim communities that happen to be the victims of constant discrimination themselves.

But this phenomenon is also partly the result of the media’s constant conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel, as Rolf Verleger, a former member of Germany’s Jewish Board of Deputies has pointed out. Even a great deal of the German left speaks of “antisemitism and racism,” the implication being that while racism is something easily analyzable, antisemitism is beyond logical explanation.
On another level, this confusion also stems from the Left’s practical inability to relate to events on the street and actively seek dialogue with Muslim communities. Instead, a troublingly elitist emphasis on largely abstract theoretical debates is the typical approach of a large part of Die Linke on this issue.
When party organizations in the Western state of North Rhine-Westphalia organized protests in Cologne and Essen against Israel’s war on Gaza last summer, reformist party officials in Berlin stated that they would not tolerate members of Die Linke marching on demonstrations where antisemitic slogans are heard. This was a top-down approach towards the contradictory nature of spontaneous movements in general, and one that was also accompanied by the media slandering of local party activists as “pandering to Islamic antisemitism,” often in concert with those same party officials.
Activists on the ground, however, have defiantly organized successful protests in Berlin together with Palestinian communities and progressive Jewish organizations, including parts of Berlin’s large Israeli expatriate community. The experience demonstrates that when protests are strategically organized and coordinated, the results open up a number of possibilities, not just to engage in practical solidarity with Palestinians, but also to break the wide gap between the organized left and immigrant workers. Indeed, one might wonder what the possibilities would be if Die Linke threw its entire weight behind such an effort, instead of letting the right-wing media determine its actions.
This is not just an issue of solidarity with a people abroad. It’s a pressing social issue. For in Germany, the powerful ideological domination of capitalism is also the effect of an extremely elitist educational system that separates children from an early age and places them into three distinct types of schooling, only one of which provides eligibility for higher education.

Not surprisingly, it is people from immigrant and working-class backgrounds that are most harmed by the structure of the education system, while the student left tends to be largely middle-class. If the German left is to break the hegemony of Merkelism, it must actively challenge Germany’s alliance with Israel, for it currently serves as the spearhead of a wider Islamophobic discourse that weakens resistance to neoliberalism at home by dividing opposition along cultural lines. This is done by intentionally conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism, which in turn places the damaging stigma of the latter on those more likely to express solidarity with the besieged of Gaza.

On the other hand, the moral underpinning of German support for Israel cynically serves as a way of absolving German capitalism from its expansionist past, thus allowing German power to be projected abroad again; economically in the European South through austerity, and geopolitically against other imperialist powers like Russia. The historic circumstances are different, but Palestine is today to Germany what Algeria was to France in the 1950s — a source of chronic and self-inflicted weakness for the Left.

Which Way Forward for Die Linke?

The main challenge for activists within Die Linke is to link solidarity with Palestine to the struggle against all forms of antisemitism and Islamophobia in Germany. Boycotting Jewish activists like Max Blumenthal and David Sheen is an obvious setback and one that reinforces the current ideological status quo, which ultimately works against the party’s stated goals. Gregor Gysi might have momentarily garnered the sympathy of the right-wing Springer press, but the social and political agenda he stands for has been weakened in the long-run.

Die Linke, after all, will only be accepted by the establishment if it dumps its key defining positions on neoliberalism and foreign interventions. No doubt, some key people on its right-wing would like nothing more than that. But this would render the party unnecessary and politically irrelevant.
The Left within the party is fragmented, a great deal of it placing its hopes in winning the internal debate against reformists on a programmatic basis. This is a mistaken approach, since the party and parliamentary structure is inherently biased in favor of those wishing to soften Die Linke’s positions for the sake of government participation.

What can tilt the balance is an active linking with the international solidarity movement, as some scholars of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung attempted last summer, pointing to the striking contradictions between the party’s internationalist identity and its stance on Palestinian national liberation. It’s part and parcel of creating a movement dynamic enough to challenge the “new German ideology.”

Open Letter Appealing for Support
Dear friends of Palestine
It has been a few days since the dispute between David Sheen, Max Blumenthal and Gregor Gysi (parliamentary leader of the left party -- DIE LINKE) in Berlin and the press campaign against the two journalists is over for now. But this does not mean one should pretend it never happened.
Thanks to extraordinarily offensive behaviour from leaders of the DIE LINKE, the debate with Max and David in Berlin about the war crimes during the Gaza war in the summer this year, as well as the dangerous shifting of Israeli society towards the right, were effectively pushed into the background.
A prominent member of the DIE LINKE parliamentary party faction, Petra Pau, insulted Max and David, calling them anti-Semites and was in the forefront of the attempts to obstruct any discussion with them. Gregor Gysi refused to talk to them, when they tried.
We witnessed not only a press campaign against the Jewish journalists, but also a defamation campaign by the leadership of DIE LINKE. Extreme pressure were exerted against the members of parliament Annette Groth, Inge Höger, Heike Hänsel and Claudia Haydt, who had invited Max Blumenthal and David Sheen to the discussion.
The leadership of DIE LINKE have already betrayed their own aims of overcoming militarism and war during the Gaza war this summer. They failed to take a firm stand supporting the people in Gaza, who were subjected to war crimes. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have proof of this.
We can not accept this. If we keep silent DIE LINKE could well snuggle up further to an ever more right-wing Israeli government taking their betrayal of human rights in their stride, in order to gain favour with the other parties within the German parliament and to offer themselves as potential coalition partners.
We, the Palestine Solidarity Committee (Palästinakomitee) Stuttgart, have made a declaration of solidarity, which some members of DIE LINKE have signed (even some office holders). We urge you to also sign our declaration as quickly as possible (name, organisation/intitiative, profession, place of residence.) We intend to forward our declaration to the leaders of the party. You find the text of the declaration attached. 
The declaration with the signatures will also be published on our website palaestinakomitee-stuttgart.de and facebook.com/PaKo.Stuttgart.
Please send your signatures in the next few days to pakos@online.de

In solidarity,
Attia Rajab, Palästinakomitee Stuttgart
Verena Rajab, Palästinakomitee Stuttgart, member of  DIE LINKE