Conflict around anti-Israel groups in Berlin

Currently there is a conflict around some anti-Israel groups in Berlin. We can share insight related to various connected spheres: refugee protest, cultural institutions and leftist scene.

// Beginning of march:
In an alternative cinema near Hermannplatz the film “Even though my land is burning” was shown. Against this a demo in solidarity with Israel took place nearby. People were shouting antisemitic slogans at this demonstration, some were showing the nazi salute: source:

// 20th march

A refugee carneval took place in Berlin, an artistic demonstration titles “my right is your right”. The organisers declared in advance: No flags. But Palestinian flags were shown at the demonstration:

Quote from the website:
“Keine Flaggen: Beim Carnival geht es um Menschen und nicht um nationale Interessen oder Bestrebungen. Wir werden keine Flaggen schwingen. Es geht hier um etwas anders, nämlich um den Umgang der deutschen Justiz mit geflüchteten Menschen, völlig egal welcher Herkunft, Region, Nationalität, Gender, oder was auch immer.” Translation: No flags. The carneval is about human beings and not about national interests. We will not wave flags. It is about something else, about how german justice system treats refugees, no matter where they come from, nationality, gender or whatsoever.

The Carneval was organised together with established institutions from the cultural sector, and with political groups. You can find the list of participants in some flyers online, such as this one:

The list is: African Refugees Union | AfricAvenir International | akademie der autodidakten | Asyl in der Kirche Berlin e.V. | Ballhaus Naunynstraße | BDS Group Berlin | Berlin Postkolonial | Berliner Entwicklungspolitischer Ratschlag | Bewohner_innen der Gerhart-Hauptmann-Schule | borderline europe – Menschenrechte ohne Grenzen e.V. | Bündnis gegen Rassismus | CUCULA | Deutsches Theater | Flüchtlingsrat Berlin | F.O.R. Palestine | GLADT e.V. | GRIPS Theater | Interventionistische Linke | JugendtheaterBüro Berlin | KuB Kontakt- und Beratungsstelle für Flüchtlinge und Migrant_innen e.V. | Lesbenberatung Berlin | LesMigraS | Maxim Gorki Theater | Migrationsrat Berlin-Brandenburg MRBB | Ökumenische BAG Asyl in der Kirche | Refugee Club Impulse | Refugee Strike Berlin | Republikanischer Anwältinnen- und Anwälteverein | Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz | Schlesische27 – Internationales JugendKunst- und Kulturhaus | Sisyphos Club Berlin | Studio | Suite42 | Theater an der Parkaue | Women in Exile | Xenion

Three groups are currently at the core of conflicts.

The list above includes the BDS-Group Berlin, and F.O.R. Palestine (means “For One State and Return in Palestine”):

After the demonstration, the groups of the carneval discussed the participation of those two. The protocol of this meeting was leaked on indymedia, but deleted afterwards. It can still be found in the google-cache:

Some highlights from the leaked protocol:

“Question of flags: there was one 2 hour discussion and then the statement about no flags”
“there was agreement, but it was not what we made together. it was reaction to Antisemitismusvorwurf. we put it on the blog and facebook, but not a general decision.”
“about the 2 hour discussion: logos were ok if the banner has a political message, and below a logo… (but not sure if this was clear to all)”
“Deutsches Theater: why where there palestinian flags, we don’t want to walk behind these flags. if yes, we are out.”
“It was not FOR or BDS [ Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – ] who put palestine in the front, but AJC [American Jewish Committee] and the media, we have to keep that in mind. same journalists who disguised as orthodox jew to provoke syrian refugees.”
“kurdish communities were missing, they don’t want to dance only and play music, but make it a political demo. ”
“Gorki is out if BDS and FOR stay”

“Schaubühne: […] it was only these two groups who had political agenda outside of the demands of MRIYR [My Right is Your Right] (German/european migration politics context). If it stays like that, Schaubühne has to leave.”
“technical info: lots of groups where put on the supporter list without noticing the others, but there was a mail about BDS and FOR!”
“Zionism is Fluchtursache” [Translated: Zionism is a reason for people to flee]
“Republikanische Anwältinnen- und anwälteverein: not supporter if they FP and BDS stays, because they are working strategic and not transparent. Maybe: if all Logos are out. (was clarified afterwards: RAV has a problem with these two groups, it doesn’t mean that their are definitely out)”
“Question to Gorki: Their is a concrete Question of the people who gave the money: what do you say about the BDS and FP participation in the coalition. Therefore a solution has to be found quickly.”
“Proposal: F.O.R. Palestine go out (strategically) and BDS to stay in. For the alliance that is as broad as possible.” [!!]
“Proposal: Invite people from BDS.”

Another group on the list is the self-organised refugee club Impulse. The artistic and pedagogic heads of this club are Nadia und Maryam Grassmann (, who are the daughters of Jürgen Grassmann, who is organising the Al-Quds demonstration in Berlin. They also participated in his demonstration. There is a picture of Maryam Grassmann wearing the Hezbollah Logo in the march.

The club is hosted by the AWO which is a very established social organisation. They had applied at the Berlin Senate for funding of 100.000 Euros for the club. After the Grassmann sisters have been criticised in the national and international press concerning their political affiliations, the AWO has pulled back the funding application.

Also the club was nominated for a special price for cultural projects, but the state minister for culture and education Monika Grütters has cancelled this nomination now.

Again it was written in statements of anti-racist groups, that the pressure came from American Jewish Committee. So not the fact that Maryam Grassmann is marching in the Al Quds demonstration with a Hezbollah Logo attached to her ear is the problem, but American Jews…

//  1st of May

The cinema event and the carneval was only the start for BDS and F.O.R.-Palestine. Now they are also in the coalition that is organising the first of may demonstration in Berlin. After a discussion about these groups, the organisation Ökologische Linke (Ecological Left) has withdrawn their participation in the coaltion. Jutta Ditfurth reported from the critical meeting:


She reports that after calling for an exclusion of the two groups their own group was called racist, and that people said that german leftists with nazi grandfathers were not allowd to critizise palestinians. There were 37 persons in the room. One third of mostly new people were connected to the BDS and F.O.R.-Palestine fraction. They had joined the coalition two weeks before. The following groups were abstaining in the voting for the exlusion of the two groups: Interventionistische Linke (also didn’t really participate in the discussion), Radikale Linke Berlin (did support the two groups, but said they have miss a group vote), Antifaschistische Linke Jugend.

// Conclusion:
There is a rising transparency related to political conflicts and political affiliations, for example in the reports and leaks from meetings. Which allows for reconstructing how BDS, Al Quds and other anti-Israel movements try to set foot in the cultural sphere and political scenes in Berlin.


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