Germany’s whitewashing of Israeli Apartheid and persecution of (pro-)Palestinian truth-tellers
How Amnesty Germany, Deutsche Welle and the German foreign minister showed their true anti-antiracism this month.
Two-time genocidaire Germany is a country that prefers to stay under the radar of global public scrutiny, especially when it comes to Palestine and "Israel". But this month, the nation that perpetrated the first genocide of the 20th century via an extermination campaign against the Herero and Nama people in present-day Namibia and then went on to holocaust Europe’s Jews, made back-to-back negative headlines in the international press for defending Israeli human rights abuses and persecuting Palestinian and Arab journalists.
Following Amnesty International’s landmark, February 1 report “Israel's Apartheid Against Palestinians”, the pro-Zionist German government, media, and civil society did not waste time in discrediting this long-overdue analysis of "Israel's" brutal system of racial oppression, all of a sudden questioning the credibility of a human rights organization, Germans have held in high esteem since its founding six decades ago.
While the new post-Merkel coalition government distanced itself from the findings and refused to accept the apartheid designation of a textbook apartheid state, corporate media op-eds went on a rampage, smearing the 280-page report as anti-Semitic, thus exhibiting the vile antagonism that is typical for those on the wrong side of history when finding themselves backed into a corner.
Amnesty Germany took a particularly perfidious route: instead of aligning itself with its parent organization and using the momentum unleashed by the report to do some antiracist "Israel"- critiquing of its own (thereby finally showing the world that the infamous German sensibility of not criticizing Zionist oppression in the Middle East because of what happened to Jews in Europe was ridiculously outdated or even fallacious from the start), it decided to go rogue by opting for self-censorship.
While Amnesty USA’s and UK’s Twitter and Meta were blowing up with content promoting the report, Amnesty Germany’s social media silence was deafening: not a single Insta slide addressing the most consequential investigation into a country’s human rights abuses to be released in recent years by the Western world’s largest human rights organization.
Deutsche Welle’s anti-Arab purge
Germany’s support for Israeli apartheid did not stop there: on February 7, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) fired 5 Arab employees under the pretext of alleged anti-Semitism, the bluntest of weapons in the pro-Zionist disinformation arsenal. Their crime: speaking out on Israeli war crimes and criticizing the lack of freedom in Germany to criticize "Israel".
This racist purge was the result of a two-month external investigation by what was billed as an “independent” commission, but was de-facto the exact opposite: heading the body was a former state anti-Semitism commissioner, a position notorious for its weaponization of the bigoted ideology it claims to fight, while the psychologist Ahmad Mansour, a Palestinian immigrant reviled by the German Muslim community for his blatant Islamophobia and revered by white liberals for the same, was appointed to counter any claim of anti-Palestinian bias.
The charges against Murhaf Mahmoud, Farah Maraqa, Maram Salem, and Lebanon-based Basil al- Aridi and Dawood Ibrahim were founded on nothing more than the prejudicial findings of an institutionalized witch-hunt hell-bent on identifying treasonous activities that would have made Senator Joseph McCarthy proud as punch, weeding out anyone who had dared to hammer against the wall of silence surrounding Israeli human rights abuses. Incidentally, that wall constitutes the cornerstone of the country’s pro-Zionist consensus.
In 1947, German playwright Bertolt Brecht was summoned in front of the House Committee on Un- American Activities (HUAC) which accused him of communist machinations. While that committee was at least beholden to Congress, the commission mandated by Deutsche Welle was beholden to no one but itself.
And unlike Brecht, who was at least given the opportunity to defend himself, the Arab journalists in DW’s employ were not only not extended the courtesy that is the liberal democratic norm of being able to confront one’s accuser, but were instead presented with the fait accompli of being given the boot for engaging in the un-German activity of supporting universal human rights.
Founded in 1953 and still unknown to most Germans to whom the name Deutsche Welle elicits nothing other than the facial expression of a question mark, the anti-Arab persecution instigated by what on paper is an international radio and TV broadcaster, but is de-facto an extended branch of the German foreign ministry tasked with propagating the country’s foreign policy agenda into the world, does not come as a surprise.
In an interview from May 2021, Electronic Intifada executive director Ali Abunimah called out the “extreme censorship from German state media” when referring to a leaked internal document distributed by DW management to its staff that prohibits employees from using the terms “Israeli apartheid”, “Israeli regime”, “colonialism” and “colonialists” in reference to "Israel".
On February 15, two more journalists working for Deutsche Welle, Palestinian-Germans Zahi Alawi and Yasser Abu Muailek, were fired on the grounds of false anti-Semitism accusations, bringing the total number of Arab employees sacked by DW for criticizing "Israel" to seven. Germany has not seen this level of political persecution within the workplace since the 1972 anti-leftist “Radikalenerlass” (Anti-Radical Decree) which banned alleged enemies of the state from working as civil servants.
In response to the political committee’s prejudged conclusions which have assassinated the careers of veteran journalists, rendering them unemployable pariahs in Germany, DW’s director-general Peter Limbourg then proceeded to add insult to injury by victim-blaming the sacked truth-tellers, apologizing not to them, but for DW’s lax hiring practices, promising to screen future candidates more rigorously.
Annalena’s unholy trip to the Holy Land
As if the blunt-force trauma of German anti-Palestinianism that characterized the month of February wasn’t enough, Germany’s freshly-minted Green party foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, chose exactly that time for an official visit to a state which not one, not two, but three renowned human rights organizations (B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty) have now unequivocally declared an apartheid one.
It is noteworthy to point out that in the lead-up to last year’s general election that saw the end of Angela Merkel’s sixteen-year reign, Baerbock was at the center of a deluge of scandals, ranging from corruption and academic plagiarism to her saying the racist N-word.
On February 10, she partook in the wreath-laying ceremony at West Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, built in 1953 on the site of an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village, while on the other side of town Israeli occupation forces and illegal settlers have been attacking Palestinians protesting against ongoing ethnic cleansing in Sheikh Jarrah. Oh, the hypocrisy!
Like Amnesty Germany before her, the sycophantic Baerbock failed to grasp a historic opportunity for her country to get on the right side of history for once by failing to challenge her Israeli counterpart on Amnesty’s apartheid report during their joint press conference. What she did have to say to the elected right-wing extremists currently governing a banana republic that holds more elections than Italy was to reiterate the boorish mantra every German knows by heart as part of the long-standing German tradition of blaming Palestinians for Israeli crimes: that “"Israel's" security is and remains Germany’s raison d’état” (ironically, dictionary.com describes raison d’état as “often violating principles of justice”).
Baerbock’s worn-out words were not only a polite way of saying that Germany will always be "Israel's" b***h, but an Orwellian obfuscation that propagates the fiction of a heavily militarised oppressor needing to be protected from the people it oppresses. Because for "Israel" and its supporters, it has been 1984 since 1948, and victim-blaming Newspeak designed to legitimize the illegitimate is parroted even by those who might break societal glass-ceilings (at 41, Baerbock is the youngest foreign minister in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany and the first woman to be given the coveted portfolio), yet who are incapable of escaping the supremacist leanings of their whiteness.
Not even her subsequent been-there-done-that alibi stint to Ramallah, highlighted by the German media as a sign of doing things differently, and her slum tourist trip to UNRWA-run Talbieh refugee camp in Jordan could disguise the new German government’s deep commitment to the old status quo: one of unconditional support for Israeli apartheid, colonialism (despite a perfunctory mentioning of the illegality of Jewish settlement expansion to her Israeli hosts) and a two-state scam that is as played out as a Nigerian 419 fraud.
Going beyond predictable gesture diplomacy and once again proving that Germany’s chief diplomat invariably moonlights as a minion of the country’s military-industrial complex (the merchant of death that is Deutschland is the fourth largest weapons exporter in the world, according to Stockholm-based SIPRI institute), Baerbock’s visit included reiterating assurances of the sale of three submarines worth a billion Euros a pop that go by the name of Dakar, the capital of Senegal.
Cultural appropriation, anyone? It behooves to point out that Germany is partially footing the bill while still refusing to pay reparations to the Herero and Nama.
And what do Israelis need the largest submarines to come out of Thyssenkrupp’s shipbuilding yard in Northern Germany for anyway? To use them in their Goliath-versus-David maritime warfare against Gaza’s fisherfolk who are desperately trying to put food on the table amidst a 15-year-long air, land and sea blockade?
A legal victory for Palestine amidst discursive defeats
Biased and selective reporting, lying by omission, and spreading outright falsehoods are the tools of the trade for the German media when it comes to discussing Palestine. In fact, this is an incorrect statement as the German media never discusses Palestine, the victim of 3/4 of a century of state-sponsored Israeli oppression, but always discusses "Israel", the oppressor, granting it near-exclusive rights to manufacture and control whatever narrative is needed in order to hoodwink (and hold hostage by way of the smoking gun that is the Holocaust) Western allies into believing in the moral legitimacy of a decades-long settler-colonial War on Palestinians.
This blatant partisanship of the German media in support of the illegal military occupation of Palestine reminds me of a quote by the late Robert Fisk: “Journalists must be impartial - on the side of those who suffer.” In a democratic society, this duty of the fourth estate that is the media should naturally extend to the three other branches of power.
In Germany however, the judiciary is the only institution that grants pro-Palestinian truth-tellers sporadic protection from slander and persecution: while the German government and media spent the month of February vilifying Amnesty International, and Deutsche Welle was busy perpetrating its racist purge, Germany’s highest administrative court handed down a ruling on January 20 in favor of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) against the city of Munich, which had refused to grant access of a public venue to the organizer of a pro-Palestinian solidarity event.
In a country where Islamophobia is the new anti-Semitism, anti-Palestinianism is a specialized form of Islamophobia and where Jew-murdering Germans routinely outsource the blame for European anti-Semitism to Muslim and Arab immigrants, this latest victory against Israeli Apartheid and the reactionary forces that defend it should be seen as yet another proverbial light at the end of the dark tunnel that is Germany’s gaslighting of Palestinian suffering.