Earlier this month, the German President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Germany’s interior minister, Nancy Faeser called on Germans of Muslim and Arab origin to publicly distance themselves from Hamas and antisemitism. “Those in the community should make a clear stance against terror,” Steinmeier said. Faeser said Muslims need to "very clearly condemn" Hamas' attack and not resort to "any yes, buts" when addressing the issue.
These loyalty tests are not only unacceptable, but they are an act of moral cowardice that only aims to see Arabs and Muslims as naturally suspect, especially since no other faith groups are ever expected to do the same when acts of violence are conducted in their name.
In the name of Judaism, and under the premise of protecting Jewish people, Israel has killed close to 15,000 Palestinians in Gaza, amongst them 6,000 Palestinian children, tens of thousands are severely injured and/or missing under the rubble, and over 50% of infrastructure has been destroyed. Many international experts of humanitarian conflicts describe that what is taking place in Gaza should be considered a genocide.
Still, it is unthinkable for any person to ask all Jewish people if they condemn the genocide taking place in their name, for the simple reason that it is racist, discriminatory, and inherently views an entire ethnic and religious group as a threat that needs to be contained and their morality questioned.
In the German psyche, there exists a pathological desire to wag the finger at Muslims and Arabs whenever a conflict, attack or event takes place in the Middle East. It immediately aims to assume the political positioning of citizens and residents from Middle Eastern backgrounds and manufactures a crisis of the homegrown antisemitic terrorist sympathiser to advance political agendas.
Almost immediately German media and government officials turned to vilify pro-Palestinian demonstrations that have taken place across the country, calling them “pro-Hamas rallies,” and intentionally misinforming the public about what is advocated for in these demonstrations. In many cases, protests and vigils calling for a permanent ceasefire are met with extreme police presence and are often outrightly banned. The police cites “potential antisemitic violence” as a reason for the suppression.
We are seeing in real time what the message Germany is sending when it calls for a loyalty test and clear condemnation from Muslims and Palestinians.
Since 7 October, German police have raided 54 properties across Germany because of “anti-Israel Islamism” and have opened an investigation into the Islamic Center Hamburg – one of the oldest Muslim organisations in the country – over its alleged connections to Iran.
“We do not tolerate anti-Israel incitement,” Nancy Faeser said in response. In total there were around 800 security raids targeting Palestinians, religious centres, and even doctors, that the state considers a terrorist threat.
German police even raided the home of the survivor of the 2019 Hanau terrorist attack – a shooting in a shisha bar where a right wing Neo-Nazi killed 9 people mostly of non-German origin. Masked police stormed the home of survivor, Piter Minnemann, over a social media post that had a photo comparing Israeli soldiers to Nazis, with the caption, “the irony of becoming what you once hated.”
Police claimed this was an “emotionally charged hostility” towards Israelis.
It is no surprise that the German government is invoking a visceral reaction against the 7 October attacks, and taking a clear stand in support of the Israeli government. In 2008, Germany classified Israel’s national security as their “reason of state,” and since have taken extreme stances against pro-Palestinian activities including the 2019 Bundestag resolution that describes the BDS movement as inherently antisemitic.
However, what is happening now is a complete weaponisation of antisemitism to advance an anti-migrant, anti-Palestinian and anti-refugee agenda. While 84% of antisemitic acts are committed by right-wing white supremacists, Germany has focused its attention on what they call “imported antisemites.”
Conveniently, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in this time took an opportunity to create what he describes as a “historic clampdown on illegal immigration.” The cross party deal will attempt to set up asylum processing centres outside the EU, such as Albania. This will significantly scale back social benefits for refugees, increase federal financial support for state governments and sets ambitious targets to speed up deportations.
In an interview with Der Spiegel, when asked what to do with those who are coming into the country who harbour hatred for Israel, many with “Arab roots,” Scholz promised to limit irregular migration as “too many people are coming.”
Meanwhile, various politicians are looking for other solutions for their communities. For example, CDU General Secretary Carsten Linnemann believes there should not be more than 35% of migrants in German schools. FDP Vice President Wolfgang Kubicki tells WELT TV, a German broadcaster, that he wants to introduce an upper limit for migrants in city districts. “We have to help unbundle neighbourhoods and reintroduce the residency requirement. We cannot allow banlieues to develop. A quarter of a city must not have more than 25 percent migrants so that no parallel societies emerge.”
Kubicki ties the crowds seen at pro-Palestinian rallies as evidence to these parallel societies: “what we see on German streets today is the result of parallel societies that develop because people came together in certain neighbourhoods.”
Being a good German citizen is clearly tied to Israel’s right to exist, no matter how much you condemn antisemitism, racism and hatred, feeling empathy towards the Palestinian plight will plaster you as a terrorism sympathiser.
For that reason, we should refuse to condemn.
Palestinians refuse to condemn and be subjected to a viciously racist discourse that places our respective communities as suspect. I refuse to condemn because we are not pawns in political ambitions that are focused on offsetting Germany’s historical responsibility towards Jewish people onto the Palestinian population.
Germany’s support of Israel and denouncement of Palestinian struggle for liberation, is not because of an overcompensation due to their guilt for the Holocaust, it is because they have figured out a way to dig themselves out of their genocidal past without having to work through the atrocities they are responsible for: simply blame the Arabs who hate Israel and do little to combat the rise in the dangerous far-right threatening the continent.
Instead, Palestinians have condemned Germany for continuously attempting to ban pro-Palestinian demonstrations that aim to silence the grief of people mourning and demanding the protection of innocent lives. We condemn this country that attempts to paint the most vulnerable people – migrants, asylum seekers and refugees – as enemies of the state. We condemn Germany for forcing us to put our professions, livelihoods and safety at risk of being slandered by the media and political pundits, all because we are telling the truth: Palestinians are being ethnically cleansed at a historic rate.
We condemn those who are banging the war drums, instead of advocating for a permanent ceasefire and sustainable peace, stability and equality for all people regardless of skin colour, creed or faith. People of all backgrounds need to condemn the inability for dialogue and viewing conversations with your constituents and citizens as dangerous and unthinkable.
Hebh Jamal is a Palestinian American journalist based in Germany.
Follow her on Twitter: @hebh_jamal
Have questions or comments? Email us at: email@example.com
Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.