Israeli Expats in Berlin Call for ‚Immediate Cease-fire‘ in Gaza War, Protest German Gov’t

by Amos Brison, Dec 29, 2023 8:13 pm IST

‚A demonstration by Israelis who care about all people who live in Israel and Palestine,‘ an organizer said describing the event, asking protesters to leave national flags at home to keep this message clear

A group of Israeli expats congregated outside the German Foreign Ministry in central Berlin on Friday, for a demonstration calling for an immediate cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Protesters held signs in German, Arabic and Hebrew reading „Diplomacy not war,“ „Ceasefire now,“ as well as messages critical of Israel’s conduct in the war, like „Stop the massacre in Gaza“ and „War crimes do not justify war crimes.“

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Alongside speeches calling for an immediate cease-fire and a diplomatic resolution to the war and the hostage crisis, demonstrators chanted slogans often heard in left-wing protests in Israel, such as „1, 2, 3, 4 – occupation no more.“

Organized by a newly formed group of Israeli expats calling itself „Israelis für Frieden“ (Israelis for peace), the demonstration drew a small yet notable number of people, especially considering the rainy weather. Around 100 people attended, according to this reporter’s estimation.

„We are happy with the turnout,“ Michael Sapir, one of the organizers, told Haaretz. While many Jews and Israelis have taken part in pro-Palestinian and Gaza solidarity rallies in Berlin since the start of the war, Friday’s rally is likely the first to be organized by, and to specifically target, Israeli activists.

„We are shocked by what we see happening [in Gaza],“ Sapir says. „It’s clear to us that just like the policies of the Israeli government didn’t lead to anything good before October 7, what it is doing now also won’t lead to anything good.“
„The German government,“ he adds, „actively supports Israel’s actions, even silencing criticism against them. It is important for us to make it clear that what they are doing is not in our interest as Israelis or as Jews.“

The protest’s event page on social media asked participants not to bring any national flags to the rally. „Having Israeli or Palestinian flags here would alienate many Israelis who hold similar opinions to ours,“ Sapir says. „They tend to invoke very instinctive responses.“
„This is a demonstration by Israelis who care about all people who live in Israel and Palestine, and we thought it would be easiest to convey this message without having flags,“ he adds.
Speaking to Tom, one Israeli resident of Berlin and longtime political activist, suggests that this strategy worked. „I took part in protests here during the [anti-Netanyahu] Kaplan and Balfour movements, and I felt bad every time I saw the rally get filled with Israeli flags.“
„Israel is stuck in mud created by nationalism,“ he says, emphasizing that he felt the same when he joined one of the Palestinian-led protests against the war in the German capital. „I’m happy to be part of a group that says, ‚leave the flags at home.'“

Another Israeli protester, Na’ama, who has not taken part in any protest against the war until now, agrees that the rally’s messaging made it easier for her to take part. „For me, I think that this protest better represents my opinion. I feel that it tries seeing everyone,“ she explains.

While the overwhelming majority of protesters were Israeli Jews, the demonstration also drew a few Palestinian supporters. One of them, an elderly man clad in a black-and-white keffiyeh who introduced himself as Hadjo, told Haaretz he had no qualms about joining forces with Israelis who call for an end to the war.
He says that Jewish left-wing organizations „always participate“ in recent protests against the war organized by Palestinians in Berlin, pointing specifically to longtime Jewish left-wing group Jüdische Stimme, and says he hopes more Palestinians will take part in anti-war protests alongside Israelis.
„I find this to be the right way for peace,“ he says in German with an Arabic accent. „Today I see new faces. It makes a very good impression.“


passiert am 29.12.2023