The Palestine solidarity movement around the world is growing. So is the pressure put against it by many lobby groups and pro-Israeli organizations, some sponsored by the Israeli government itself. In Europe, where the BDS movement has been facing serious attempts of delegitimization, the movement has been at the center of the public debate in recent years, especially in France and Germany, polarizing positions around the Palestinian question.
The judicial victory of the three BDS activists in German courts, two weeks ago, marked a precedent in this story. The Humboldt-3; Ronnie Barkan, Stavit Sinai, and Majed Abusalama, faced charges for protesting the visit of Israeli MK Aliza Lavie in Berlin in 2017 and the German court finally acquitted them while convicting Sinai for the minimal allegation. The case is especially important in Germany, a country that has close ties with the occupation state, and which parliament has condemned the BDS movement as a form of antisemitism.
Quds News Network interviewed Majed Abusalama who shared his views on the importance of the Humboldt-3 case, as well, some details of the trial, which became a story in itself when the activists used it to voice their message. He also shared his and his comrades’ views on the relationship between Germany and the occupation state, the battle for historical narrative, and the role of the Palestine solidarity movement in the present moment.
What is the importance of your victory to the Palestine solidarity movement in Europe and world-wide?
We should take into consideration that our case happened in a very complicated context, where the Zionist lobby tries all the time to make us, the Palestine solidarity movement, look as losers with no chance of winning any ground. We were able to prove that we are not. We did it in the most hostile environment, because Germany as a state, is extremely complicit with the Apartheid state of Israel.
Palestinians in Germany are the biggest Palestinian community in Europe, but we are suppressed. Our right to protest and express ourselves is stolen, always intimidated by the accusation of antisemitism, completely absenting and excluding our Palestinian narrative.
What exactly do you define as German complicity with the Apartheid state, and how do you explain it?
Germany is in the forefront of hiding Israel’s crimes against humanity. Through its leading role in the European Union, the German state imposes the suppression of the Palestine solidarity movement and its condemnation. Germany has even sold nuclear submarines and other heavy weapons to the Apartheid state.
It partially comes from the German sense of culpability towards the Second World War. But this use of culpability, in my opinion, is not based on human values. It is more an attempt by the German state to build a comfortable attitude towards Germany’s past, even if it is on the expense of the human rights discourse of the Palestinian people. I believe that this attitude, and the white washing of Israeli apartheid and crime against humanity that results from it tell a lot of how much this state has not learned the lesson of the Second World War. That lesson is not about protecting a specific group or a state, but rather about protecting human rights and human values. This is why we say that the German state has failed humanity on the question of Palestine.
Do you see any evolution in the German society in its stands towards the Palestinian cause?
Recent polls show that an increasing number of Germans are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and I would say rather the majority support Palestine. This has increased after the 2nd Intifada and the Israeli siege and continuous aggression on Gaza. In addition, the German public could not remain blind to Israel’s attitude with human rights activists, like the deportation of Human Rights Watch local director in Palestine, Omar Shakir, last November. The flow of free information thanks to the internet has exposed too much for Germans to remain blind and indifferent.
How did the German public react to your case?
There was an overwhelming solidarity with us, in the court and outside of it. We turned our court into a court where we were the accusers, and we went with a message and the German public received it. Since we want to put the apartheid state on trial in a German court, we decided to use our own court to do that.
We focused on the Israeli MK Aliza Lavie. We were on trial for protesting against her visit to Berlin in 2017. Aliza Lavie was directly responsible for the attack on Gaza in 2014 because she participated in making the decision of that attack, which killed over 2000 Palestinians, including 500 children. She is also the chair of the anti-BDS lobby, promoting the suppression of BDS and any Palestine activists.
The Zionist lobby tried to manipulate the case as usual by twisting and fabricating the truth about us being violent, but this did not succeed. It was an attempt to shift our and the public’s attention, but we focused on our political and moral message. I told the judge that I am from Gaza and that Lavie had a criminal responsibility for killing my friends and my people back home, and that she was meters away from me. I challenged him on how he would feel if he was in my place. My comrades also challenged Lavie directly and told her that she is a criminal and belongs in the ICC jail. That was the entire discussion during the court. We did not deviate from it.
How was the court’s attitude to your message?
They found nothing and we were acquitted. But they fined Sinai for the minimal punishment of 450 euros because she banged on the door three times, trying to ask about the details of someone who assaulted her when we were pulled out. The decision of the court is ridiculous. It was just an attempt to save the court’s face in front of the Zionist lobby and Israel, and It tells how much the German institutions are captured by this lobby’s pressure, and even complicit with the occupation and apartheid state.
Some might say that it’s a hard accusation to the German institutions. Why, in your opinion, are they complicit?
The German parliament declared the BDS movement antisemitic against the German judicial system. Throughout Germany, many courts have declared the BDS movement as a legitimate form of freedom of expression and protesting, but the German parliament holds to its smearing accusation to us which shows that the BDS motion is only a political declaration. Now there is also a European judicial decision, after the European court of human rights ruled in favour of our comrades in France, who were also accused of antisemitism in the French courts. This complicity is political and on the highest levels.
What lessons are to be taken from your case?
We want to make it clear that this story is not about us personally. It is the story of Palestine and the global solidarity with it. Our victory is a victory for the Palestinian struggle, which is the struggle of all men and women of conscience around the world.
Second, we want to empower our community, in Germany, Europe, all over the world and in Palestine. We are not alone. All those who stand against colonialism, human rights violations and apartheid world-wide are on the side of the Palestinian struggle.
What message does your victory send to the Palestinian people, at a time when some Arab states are normalizing their relations with the occupation state, especially after the Israeli-Emirati peace agreement?
Israel’s narrative held for so long because many people did not know the reality of our cause, but this Zionist narrative is falling apart and Israel can no longer hide its true criminal and apartheid face. This is the right moment for our people to become more self-sufficient and rely on themselves in their struggle.
We know too well that states will try to normalize, but we can rely on the grassroot movement of conscious people in the Arab countries and on all people of conscience in the world to continue challenging normalization, intensifying BDS and all forms of resistance to hold Israel accountable. The Palestinian cause will always be in the table to examine people’s conscience all over the world, and it is a global citizen movement that supports it.
But it is us, Palestinians, who need to lead this struggle. We, the Palestinian people, and Palestine are at the center of our struggle.