German police temporarily detained a Jewish Israeli woman who held up a sign condemning Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, amid an increased crackdown on pro-Palestinian voices in the country.
In a video circulating online, a Jewish woman in the German capital Berlin was seen demonstrating alone in the city’s district of Neukölln last month while holding a sign which said “As a Jew and Israeli: stop the genocide in Gaza”. She was then stopped by police officers and led to a police van, where she was questioned before later being released.
German police arrest Jewish Israeli woman Iris Hefets for holding a poster that says “As a Jew and Israeli: stop the genocide in Gaza” in Berlin. pic.twitter.com/D1u3AHySds
— Clash Report (@clashreport) November 11, 2023
The woman was later identified as Iris Hefets, a certified psychoanalyst from Israel who moved to Germany in 2002 and is on the board of the Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East (EJJP). In a recent interview with the DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movement 2025) outlet, Hefets stated that by demonstrating alone, “I wanted to show that not all Jews think the same, like the German government would like to portray”.
She recounted that the officers “came directly to me and they told me that it’s forbidden to do what I’m doing. I started to argue with them, I told them how the constitution is…and I was insisting on my right [to demonstrate]”.
They then “took me into custody to their police car [van], they took also my ID, [and] they told me that it’s forbidden to have a pro-Palestinian demonstration there. So I told them that it’s a pro-Israeli one: my family lives there, I think it’s the end of Israel also now actually, because Israel is manoeuvring itself to a dead end. And I’m worried also about my family and my friends who live there.”
She said that the two police officers questioning her became “sympathetic with me…One took my ID, came back, and told me that he’s actually sorry, [that] I’m right”. Afterwards, “they let me go and they told me they did it for my security”, she scoffed. The officers then allowed her to continue carrying the sign and demonstrating, but only in a corner of the area instead of the centre.
“I know I’m privileged. I’m Israeli, I’m a Jew, I’m a woman, I’m an older woman with white hair. If I would be a young Arab-looking male, I would be beaten”, Hefets acknowledged in the interview. She also highlighted the restrictions and conditions of Palestinians, their supporters, as well as Muslims in the country, saying that “to be a Muslim now in Germany, it’s horrible. To be a Palestinian, it’s a disaster now…I mean, they are the Jews now in Berlin.”
Over the past few years, German authorities throughout the country’s federal system have been cracking down on pro-Palestinian demonstrations and protests on the basis that it has a “special responsibility” towards protecting the Jews through preventing criticism against Israel.
That position has only hardened and increased in recent weeks, following the Palestinian resistance group Hamas’s operation into Israel and the occupation military’s subsequent bombardment and invasion of the Gaza Strip.