The Twisted Response from Germany to the Ongoing Massacre of Palestinians

Germany has seen two major occurrences in recent weeks. Featured daily in the media have been the giant crowds demonstrating against the fascistic AfD, Alternative for Germany. Estimates were as high as 100,000 in Hamburg, 200,000 in Düsseldorf,  up to 250,000 in Munich and already lasting over three weeks, with a second rally in Berlin attracting 300,000 according to some estimates. At least two million people are said to have taken part thus far, with public approval at a very high level. Especially noteworthy were the big anti-AfD turnouts in Dresden, Erfurt, Leipzig, Potsdam, Chemnitz, cities in East German states where the AfD is in first place, topping the polls at over 30%  – with elections due in three of them in September. About a thousand brave souls even demonstrated in Pirna, the town where an AfD man recently got a majority vote and was elected mayor.

What detonated this eruption with its flags, banners and innumerable hand-made anti-AfD signs – angry, worried, also humorous – was a curious news item on January 10th about a secretive meeting of twenty-odd far-far-right-wingers in an isolated lake-front villa near Potsdam. Among them were several middle-level AfD leaders, three fringe right-wing members of the already right-wing Christian Democratic Union (CDU), (who have since been dropped),  a few wealthy but little-known businessmen and a leader of the quasi-fascist Austrian “Identitarian” movement. Their theme was a program – “after achieving power” – of “remigration”, the compulsory expulsion of all people with “non-German roots,” even those with German citizenship but not considered properly “assimilated into German language and culture.” This might mean up to 15 million immigrants plus five million with two immigrant parents. Though fully absurd and impossible, this plan reflected the use of hatred by far-rightists in efforts to gain power, a strategy now blossoming all over Europe (and menacing in the USA). It was encouraging to see so many taking to the streets and squares to reject such threats, with their worrisome echoes of past history. Their numbers may help dispel false notions that most or all Germans are “lost to the Nazis.”

But must I then again indulge my inner flaw – always voicing undesirable doubts – even here, despite all the general pleasure and enthusiasm? I fear it is too late in life for me to overcome the habit. For while I have no doubts at all about the motivation and sincerity of all those giant crowds, a few questions do bother me.

That secretive meeting in Villa-Adlon was somehow spied upon by a group called Correctiv. Shouldn’t the media have mentioned that this hardly-known Correktiv, founded seven years ago to “expose fake news,” was financially sponsored by the Open Society Foundations of the very well-known American financier George Soros? Is there any explanation as to why the meeting on November 22 was not reported publicly until January 10th? I also wonder just a bit at how so many giant well-organized rallies could take place all over the country within two or three days of the news release. Of course, opposing AfD met with giant public support, but such quick, almost joyful media effort is rare for causes not desired by powerful forces on high. And these rallies have been and are still being blessed with speeches by a host of government leaders of all levels and directions.

One possible (if cynical) explanation has occurred to me – with two key words, Gaza and Netanyahu! Ever since its founding after World War II the German Federal Republic, to gain acceptance into the family of “western democracies,”  while denouncing Hitler and his most famous henchmen, almost completely restricted condemnation to the horrifying annihilation of the Jewish people while distorting or ignoring the earlier, intense fascist attacks against the Left, especially the Communist left, which so often ended with a noose or a guillotine. Largely forgotten were also Nazi crimes against almost every country in Europe, beginning in Spain in 1936-1939 and climaxing in the killing of an estimated 27 million people of the USSR. In fact, a large number of the perpetrators went unpunished or regained influence and prosperity. Meanwhile, the policy-makers built up connections with any and every Israeli government, including large financial support, often in the form of armaments (like submarines). But since such support served as evidence that Germany had “overcome its past,” total, blind approval must never ever be questioned and was given a special new stature as “basic state principle” (Staats-raison). As Jewish life gradually returned to Germany this taboo was extended to an official, repeated rejection of “anti-Semitism.”  In general this should and would be greatly welcomed – except that it was directed more and more against anyone, including Jews (denounced as “self-haters”) who disapproved of Israeli policy or evidenced any sympathy and solidarity for those – the Palestinians – who had for untold centuries cared for their gardens and olive trees and established a rich culture and whose repression was largely banished from the media of the ”western world.”

That is until recently. When “Bibi” Netanyahu with his Knesset majority and an undeniably fascist-led cabinet defied the UN and heightened pressure to extend total Israeli sovereignty “from the river to the sea” it became increasingly difficult – worldwide – to support him. Then huge numbers of Israelis demonstrated against him, week for week, because of his attempts to further centralize power.  Yet if he were to lose his job at the top he was threatened with a prison sentence on charges of corruption and bribery. He found himself being pushed into an ever tighter corner.

Then came the violent Hamas-led attack on October 7th. Bibi was saved! After the terrible reports of atrocities he could now call for collective vengeance and bring most Jewish Israelis behind him (at least for a while). True, there had been warnings well in advance, wild unproven tales of beheaded babies recalled too closely the incubator babies thrown on the floor by Iraq soldiers in 1990, all invented; the fatal dance gala had been planned to end a day before the attack; many torn and burnt bodies, Jewish and Arab, were victims of Israeli tank and helicopter fire.

However, regardless of all doubts, the attack cost over 1100 Jewish and Arab lives, whose death should not be minified. But neither should long decades of brutal oppression. Nor can October 7th justify a vengeance which has already cost the lives of at least 27,000 known dead in Gaza, with thousands more buried under rubble – and over 70% of the victims women and children. Far more than half of Gaza’s buildings have been destroyed, over 69% of the school buildings, 142 mosques and three churches were damaged, 121 ambulances hit with at least 337 health workers killed. Doctors were jailed and viciously tortured. The bombing was carried out with modern US-made precision, while refugees fleeing to allegedly safe areas were again hit. Among those killed were 80 or more journalists trying to report or film this catastrophe, most of them despite – or because of – their distinctive press vests.

One dramatic result in October was a wave of protest demonstrations – down Fifth Avenue, into Grand Central Station, on New York bridges, in the USA Capitol, around the nation. And around the world! In London an estimated 100,000 marched to the Parliament. Also in Germany, despite attempts by the police to harass and limit them. A large number were Arabs, Turks or other Muslims, but also a good proportion had European roots, along with members of organizations like “Jews For A Just Peace.” I believe that these spontaneous marches had broader implications, not only for Palestinian rights, indeed survival, but for new directions in foreign policy, and in general. Any emerging unity of this kind had a dramatic potential; it undoubtedly frightened the powerful to the marrow. It must be halted. Quick!

I think a very official media stress on combatting anti-Semitism was basically inspired, at least by some, to accomplish just this. But it backfired; for too many this “awareness” seemed to be really aimed primarily at supporting Bibi and his invasion of Gaza.  

Was it really that sudden news report about a meeting of twenty-odd third-rank plotters which started up all the giant anti-AfD rallies? Or could it have been part of a strategy from “above” to distract people from supporting the Gazans and from resisting a frightening armaments build-up, combined with troop movements eastward to Russian borders while Germans were being whipped up into war enthusiasm by  people like Defense Minister Pistorius and Foreign Minister Baerbock? How much hypocrisy was involved? Some critics noted that new government steps against immigrants and in favor of exclusive barriers around Europe (not unlike those in the American Southwest), with strict sifting and deportation of those who failed requirements, were not all that different in spirit from AfD demands. And some recalled the many pro-fascist ties uncovered in recent years in police departments, in the army and in government ranks. In fact, from 2012 until 2018 the Constitution Protection Office (like the FBI) was headed by a man who turned out to be a close friend of the AfD. And there had been so many friendly TV interviews with AfD leaders. Were the angry denunciations of the AfD by political big shots as sincere as the crowds they addressed? Or was my skepticism justified about the boundless enthusiasm of a media which was so skimpy and sarcastic about peace rallies? Or am I an overly-suspicious cynic – a Grinch?


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