In the last six months we have witnessed increasingly oppressive measures used to silence supporters of Palestine and have seen a significant rise in the number of criminal proceedings against activists. As campaigners, lawyers, academics and individuals from all walks of life are joining together to criticise the actions of Israel, and their own governments’ complicity,  they are being faced with considerable repression from trials by media, workplace management and from the state itself. This is a tactic used by those in power to intimidate, harass and scare people out of showing their support for Palestine. 

Last month saw the violent shutdown of a three day Palestine Congress in Berlin with German police harassing and arresting some of the organisers. Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta, a British-Palestinian doctor who volunteered in Gaza in October, was due to speak at this conference but was denied entry to Germany signalling the fear of the state to bear witness to their complicity in this genocide. Days later in the US, the NYPD – with the help of the university management – brutally disrupted a protest at Columbia University and arrested scores of protesters. Whichever way we look, from smear campaigns by the press and online juries, to workplace intimidation and the curtailment of freedom of speech and assembly, there are more extreme reactions of the state towards activists and this is a trend  happening globally. As ever we need to offer our unconditional solidarity with those being oppressed and those resisting that repression from Palestine to our own organising contexts.

Comrade of Trademark, documentary film-maker and academic Dror Dayan, who was also one of the speakers at the Berlin congress that was shut down, was informed on Thursday that the police in Germany have started a criminal investigation against him as the result of a tweet he made in November saying,

‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free. 

We will not allow history to be rewritten. Palestine solidarity will not become the scapegoat for the Nazi grandchildren. Your crime, not ours.’ 

Dror says the fact he is now being criminally investigated ‘only goes to show its correctness.’ He stated ‘we wont let German repression silence us in our opposition to this genocide which Germany fully supports. Solidarity is our weapon.’ While governments across Europe and the institutions within the European Union have been extremely supportive of the Zionist project, Germany has had a particularly enthusiastic relationship with Israel. What does stand Germany apart is that the so-called left in the Trade Union movement and anti-fascist football scene (anti-deutsche movement) have at best struggled with supporting even the modest demands of a ceasefire and at worst are active ambassadors for Zionism and Israeli war crimes. Palestine is being made to pay for what has always been a German problem. 

Police in Berlin violently take over and shut down Palestine Congress in Berlin – Image credit: offGuardian

The systematic approach to suppress activist voices is increasing and emboldened across Europe under the ideological underpinning of President of the European Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen. This is someone who spent 28,000euro draping the Israeli flag over the Parliament building in Brussels and who declared that Europe stands with Israel ‘today and the days to come’ after the declaration made by Israel of its genocidal intentions. Von Der Leyen was in Israel within days too, offering unconditional support from Europe. This was used by Israel in the ICJ case as evidence of legitimacy for their war crimes on which Clare Daly  remarked ‘nobody embodies European Complicity like the genocidal psychopath at the top of the European Commision.’ 

While extreme cases are catching international attention, we should be mindful of and organising against the diversity of tactics being used to silence protest. Words and tweets are being held against activists as ‘criminal’ acts – not the tens of thousands of tonnes of bombs that have been dropped in Gaza. This represents a fundamental threat to our rights including the freedom of expression and assembly through increasingly authoritarian measures by the state and its institutions. Dror’s case, and the hundreds others like him across the world, show the punitive system that the state and its institutions are prepared to go to undermine our liberties. This is not just a fight for Palestinian rights and justice but also for our own rights as workers and citizens. Solidarity with all those facing repression – from the river to the sea. 

Written by Medb McDaid who is a Leftbloc activist and works for the ELSC. If you have faced repression then you can log this with the European Legal Support Centre (ELSC) and request legal support:

Report an Incident / Request Legal Support

Advocates for Palestinian rights are facing a variety of attacks aimed at silencing their voices or hindering their work: from denial of public space, public funding or online platforms, closure of financial accounts, legal threats or lawsuits, to enforcement the adoption of anti BDS motions that falsely declare the Palestine solidarity movement as antisemitic.

Contact us if you or your group, association, NGO, foundation, have been intimidated, slandered, censored or banned from speaking out or carrying out solidarity actions, or if you are just seeking legal advice about your rights.

Fill our incident report form