Ice broken also in Germany

First manifestation for one democratic state in Palestine
Wilhelm Langthaler
Ali Abunimah, Ilan Pappé and Sophia Deeg
End of November 2010 a historic conference under the slogan “Separated in the past – together in the future” took place in Stuttgart, Germany. As the last years saw increasing difficulties to rent representative venues for pro-Palestinians events the organizers moved to a secure hall in the periphery which was completely overcrowded with some 200 participants. There were rumors that the organizers had to refuse another 200 applicants.

The conference was a breakthrough not only regarding the number of participants but first of all because of its quality. It indicates a political shift which in most western countries is already in full swing. The two-state solution is being recognized more and more not only as deception and farce but as an outright support for Israeli apartheid. This change is due to the dramatic impact of the continuing blockade of Gaza, the Israeli military aggression on Gaza in January 2009 as well as the massacre on the Gaza freedom flotilla.

Outstanding orator was Ilan Pappé, an Israel historian teaching in England. He was setting the line: A Jewish state cannot be other than colonial oppressing the Palestinians. There is no such thing as progressive Zionism. On the contrary Pappé compared Zionism to a virus which returns as long as it has not been completely defeated. He fired mainly against what was wrongly called Zionist left, a milieu from which he said to originate himself. They happen to talk of a Palestinian state but intend to justify a separate Jewish state which can only be built on ethnic cleansing. Pappé repeatedly called for the active boycott of Israel. He sharply dismissed the -- in Germany common -- argument according to which one cannot attack Israel due to Germany’s historic responsibility for the Holocaust.

Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, publicist and daughter of the deceased chairman of the German Central Council of Jews, attacked the subordination of her country to Zionism, condemned the extreme bias of the corporate media and the infamy of defaming critics to Israel like herself as anti-Semites. She professed to be an anti-Zionist and a supporter of a common democratic state in Palestine.

Coming directly from the open air prison of Gaza which he left for the first time since the imposition of the embargo, Haydar Eid from the Al Quds university called for a „tsunami of Gaza ships“. In the debate he criticised the wide range of NGOs who promote reconciliation on an individual level. This approach suggests that there was a dialogue between equals. What would be responded to the idea that the “conflict between Jewish and non Jewish Germans or between blacks and whites in the US” had to be resolved by mere dialogue? The issue is oppression and injustice which needs to be fought. It is a question of solidarity with the oppressed against the oppressors.

There were several other impressive international guests like Ali Abunimah, editor of the electronicintifada.net from the USA; Mazin Qumsiyeh, professor at the universities of Bethlehem and Birzeit; or Lubna Marsawi, participant of the Gaza freedom flotilla.

Beside local personalities from southwest Germany several prominent representative of the Linke including those MPs, who participated at the Gaza ships, were present. But they did not dare to clearly call neither for one state nor for boycotting Israel. They appeared as paralysed by the enormous Zionist pressure on the party. (Only recently it was revealed by Wikileaks that the leader of the parliamentary fraction, Gregor Gysi, co-operated with the US to soften the anti-Nato stance of his party.) One needs to remember as well what happened to Hermann Dierkes, the Linke’s candidate for the mayor of Duisburg in the Ruhr area and participant of the Stuttgart conference, who indeed had dared to call a boycott against Israel. An intense Zionist campaign of character assassination including from the top ranks of his own party calling him an anti-Semite forced him to withdraw his candidacy.

The huge success of the conference should, however, not eclipse the fact that we are only at the very beginning. Many obstacles remain on our way. This is being reflected also in the general opinion of most of the participants who conceive the struggle for a democratic state as a gradual metamorphosis of the Israeli state without violent clashes and revolutionary crisis. The fact of the permanent war waged by the US and Israel and seconded by Europe was not connected to the process was well as the (armed) resistance against it. It was eventually the turn of the Anti-imperialist Camp to stress the need to support the popular resistance regardless whether Islamic or not. Only a military defeat of Israel, the US and its allies can end Zionism and pave the way to an anti-colonial state in entire Palestine.