Open Letter

Amid fierce debate, members of German think tank take a stand on Gaza

August 19, 2014
/ By /

The following is a statement by scholars, ex-scholars and associates of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Germany, a think tank associated with the Left Party.  The Foundation’s official position on Palestine is currently under debate and it is periodically accused of antisemitism in German political discourse because of the Palestine-activism of many of its members.

The following is a statement by scholars, ex-scholars and associates of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Germany, a think tank associated with the Left Party.  The Foundation’s official position on Palestine is currently under debate and it is periodically accused of antisemitism in German political discourse because of the Palestine-activism of many of its members.

Disclaimer: This statement is supported by the undersigned. It does not speak in the name of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in its entirety. Within the Foundation, we are not united – quite a couple of students strongly oppose the positions presented herein.

Declaration by some scholars, professors and employees of Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (RLS) concerning Gaza

1. Protest

We, students, former students, contact lecturers, employees and free staff of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation would like to hereby express our horror at the Israeli massacre in Gaza that is taking place before our eyes. We are not in favour of every means by the Palestinian resistance; we are against rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, but – this should be made clear – in a clearly scaled-down form, not only with respect to the technical terms of arms technology, but also politically and morally. We call, together with thousands of other groups around the world, in Israel and in the territories occupied by Israel for the immediate cessation of Israeli military operations. We are in favour of an immediate and long-term truce, although this certainly is not enough.

2. No symmetry!

Not only in terms of weaponry, but especially politically, there is no symmetry between the two sides. One side is the oppressor, the other the oppressed. It is not Palestine that holds Israel occupied, under siege (Gaza), fragmented (West Bank) and without political rights. It is not Palestine that erects colonial settlements in Israel and not Palestine that steals water from Israel. It is not Palestinian police that has arrested thousands of Israeli prisoners and deported them into the oPt, not Palestinian police, which carries out nocturnal raids on Israeli homes, which tortures Israeli prisoners on a daily basis and which locks up Israeli citizens indefinitely and without trial (administrative detention). Colonial asymmetry – this is the cause of this one-sided so-called “war”. We, the undersigned individuals at RLS consider it our duty to express our views in a fair and balanced assessment. But our fairness and balance does not mean that we were neutral. The occupation is like the “wind”, out of which the current “storm” arises – they are both made up “from the same matter” as German poet Bertholt Brecht wrote in his poem “A War Primer”. Therefore, a ceasefire is not sufficient. The blockade must be lifted immediately; all political prisoners must be released, in particular the re-arrested prisoners who had been released in the Gilad Shalit deal; a connection between the West Bank and Gaza must be allowed, as guaranteed under the Oslo accords. Last not least, the Israeli occupation must end, once and forever.

No symmetry! We emphasize: The Palestinians have the right to resistance, as much as any militarily occupied population in the world. They may not have the right to every means of resistance, but nonetheless the right to resist. (If we unequivocally dissociate ourselves politically from some individual means and methods or from certain Palestinian actors, this does not entail that we question the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to resist the occupation – to the contrary.) Israel violently suppresses any form and any means of this resistance – wrongly, without justification. Palestinians – does this still have to be emphasized in the Germany of the 21st century? – are entitled to the right to freedom, to a life under dignified conditions, not only to human rights but to full, comprehensive political and civil rights. There is no reason or justification in the world to deny them these rights. This right exists and applies to Palestinians unconditionally, as much as it does to any other nation on earth (and regardless whether under a one-, two-, three-, or no-state scenario).

3. Germany and our particular responsibility

Germany and its ruling political class are neither neutral, nor balanced or equidistant. The same Israel, which denies the nation under its oppression any democracy, freedom, basic human and civil rights for half a century (and now again for three weeks with tanks and bombers) is courted by Germany as a close strategic partner, supplied with generous multi-billion dollar weapons systems and privileged economically through dozens of special rules and treaties in business, politics, and culture. (Settler products are just the tip of this iceberg.) On a daily basis, Germany – deliberately, by its actions and by its silence – turns itself into an accomplice in keeping the occupation functioning and running; in the daily violation of even the minimal guarantees under Oslo, in allowing Israel to feel above international rights, obligations and minimum standards, and to act accordingly.

Germany, its ruling class and its political personnel, chooses and picks the side with which it aligns in a thousand different ways. We say not in our name! As fellows of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation – her legacy is our commitment – we are against any form, type and degree of colonialism, apartheid and occupation – including the Israeli… Our understanding of politics and history is a different one. We do not believe that Germany’s responsibility for the industrial extermination of six million Jews – as well as our special responsibility to be alert against any form of anti-Semitism and to never allow history to repeat itself – should translate themselves into the support of the regime of institutionalized and systematic discrimination and dispossession practiced by the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.

Written on July 30, 2014 

Undersigned:

Clemens Messerschmid, Ramallah
Karin Gerster, Stuttgart
Krista Nowak, Berlin
Helga Baumgarten, Jerusalem
Werner Ruf, Edermünde / Kassel
Stefanie Fischbach, Berlin
Amir Taha, Tübingen
Garnet Bräunig, Hamburg
Georg Auerheimer, Traunstein
Leandros Fischer, Cologne
John Lütten, Berlin
John P. Neelsen, Tübingen
Loren Balhorn, Berlin
Anton Thun, Berlin
Max Manzey, Berlin
Simon Eberhardt, Cologne
Eirini Iliopoulou, Berlin
Cigdem Kaya, Dinslaken
Jules El-Khatib, Essen
Thomas Haschke, Stuttgart
Catarina Principe, Berlin
Ole Vincent Guinand, Berlin
Nadia Johanne Kabalan, Berlin
Ben Rassbach, Berlin
Tilman von Berlepsch, Berlin

Johannes Maria Becker, Marburg 


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