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‘Back to Nazi roots’: Jewish activist decries Germany’s ‘frightening’ crackdown on pro-Palestine voices

May 28, 2024 at 5:13 pm

German police detains some protestors as they clear the encampment of pro-Palestinian protestors upon the government’s decision, near the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, Germany on April 26, 2024. [Halil Sağırkaya – Anadolu Agency]

Germany’s aggressive crackdown on pro-Palestine voices is targeting everyone, including members of the Jewish community who are speaking out against Israel’s atrocities in Gaza, according to a leading member of a Jewish advocacy group, Anadolu Agency reports.

“Germany claims to side with Israel because they want to protect Jewish life. They claim it’s their moral duty … We, as a Jewish organisation, are disturbed by this narrative and that’s why they are also trying to crack down on our group,” Iris Hefets, a board member of the Jewish Voice for Peace in Germany, told Anadolu.

Founded in 2007, the organisation calls for “establishing a viable, sovereign Palestinian State on an integrated territory and within secure borders, and actively contributes to the realisation of a lasting peace that is viable for both nations.”

Since Israel launched its war on Gaza last October, the group has vehemently opposed the deadly assault, which has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians and injured at least 80,200 more.

READ: Cut the supply line of Israel’s genocide in Gaza, says rights group

Israel is also facing a genocide case at the International Court of Justice for its war on Gaza, where millions of Palestinians are displaced, facing famine and acute shortages of medical aid and other essentials.

Over the past months, the Jewish Voice for Peace has faced various forms of repression by the German government, including bank accounts being frozen, events cancelled and members being arrested.

“We established ourselves because we think, as Jews, we have a responsibility to say ‘not in our name’ because Israel claims to speak in our name,” said Hefets.

The German government’s repression has reached a “frightening” point, she said.

“There are hardly any Jews in Germany, so we’re talking about a very small fragile group that they are cracking down on to form the Jew they want, which is something Germany is very good at,” she said.

“This is something that is not new, so it’s back to the Nazi roots … This is so frightening.”

Conditions for Jews in Germany are such that “it is now allowed to say publicly that Jews are anti-Semites,” she explained.

“The police are allowed to beat Jews. Everything is perverse … It’s all perverse because you are beating Jews to protect Jewish life,” she added.

Hefets, however, said there are some signs of hope, particularly welcoming the International Criminal Court Prosecutor to apply for arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant.

“It’s a very positive sign for us all because Israel has been enjoying impunity until now, which is very problematic … I think it’s very important also for Israelis because it makes clear that they cannot just move on like it used to be,” she said.

READ: European Commission president accused of complicity in Israel’s war crimes at ICC