Tue 05 Dec 2023 6:38 pm - Jerusalem Time

German Jews : We were arrested and expelled from our jobs because we criticized Israel

Jews in Germany who are anti-Zionist are subjected to unprecedented restrictions, whether they are organizations or individuals. They have been arrested and expelled from their jobs as soon as they denounced the Zionist occupation’s massacres in Gaza.

Perhaps one of the most prominent human rights organizations defending peace in the historic land of Palestine and the rights of the Palestinian people is the Jewish Voice for Peace in the Middle East.

This progressive, anti-Zionist Jewish organization does not provide a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but rather fights for the rights of the two peoples, especially the right of the Palestinian people to the historic land of Palestine.

The activists of this organization were subjected to systematic harassment in Germany, and they became subject to arrest and losing their jobs one after another, and their activities and demonstrations were canceled by police decisions.

The story of the Jewess Iris

An example of this excessive restrictions, the most famous in recent weeks, is the arrest of one of the organization's most prominent activists, the Jewish Iris Heifetz, by the Berlin police, after she carried a sign in the middle of a public square, which read, "As a Jew and an Israeli...Stop genocide in Gaza."

Iris Heifetz said in statements to “Arabi Post”: “Although Israel claims to speak on behalf of the Jews, most of the Jews in this world do not live in Israel.”

The spokeswoman added: "It is very dangerous for Israel to promote the idea that it is a Jewish state, and that what it is doing is a Jewish belief. These are Protestant ideas, so it receives support from the West and it is not a coincidence."

The spokeswoman stressed that "there is hate speech that is intended to prevail in Germany, and an attempt to create hatred between Jews and Muslims, and to stigmatize Muslims on charges of anti-Semitism."

The spokeswoman indicated in her statement to “Arabi Post” that “Germany is promoting the idea of suppressing Muslims in order to save the Jews, and I completely reject this rhetoric and say that the Jews live in Arab countries much better than in European countries.”

Restriction on the organization

The restrictions on the organization are not new. During 2019, Joseph Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews, protested against the organization to which Iris belongs winning the German City of Göttingen Peace Prize.

Schuster protested this honor, citing its support for the “anti-Semitic” Boycott Israel (BDS) movement, which caused many of the party’s funders and the city municipality to withdraw from the event, but the committee did not withdraw the award from the organization.

A year before this event, a German bank closed the association’s account for the same reason, according to the association’s activists, what they considered an attack on constitutional rights, a blatant violation and an illegal restriction on their freedom in Germany.

Last month, one of the organization's Jewish activists, Udi Raz, who worked for years as a guide for tourists inside the Jewish Museum in Berlin, was also fired from his job because of his description of Israel as an apartheid state in front of a group of museum visitors.

The German Jewish Organization had previously accused Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz of committing war crimes during the recent aggression on Gaza in August 2022.

At that time, the organization filed lawsuits against them against the backdrop of the aggression against Gaza, and demanded in a statement that they be held accountable for the suffering of the Palestinians, and stressed that all war criminals must be held accountable in the same way, including the Israelis.

The BDS movement boycotts Israel

Among the organizations that have been subjected to repression in Germany is the BDS movement, an organization that includes Jews and Muslims that was classified by the German Parliament as anti-Semitic, in a non-binding resolution that was voted on in 2019.

Following this decision, the director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Peter Schäfer, was forced to resign from his position; A large and raging smear campaign was launched against him, because he shared, via his Twitter account, a petition signed by 240 Jewish and Israeli academics, opposing the decision of the German legislative establishment against the movement.

A member of the Jewish Voice for Peace in the Middle East, Cher Hefer, previously wrote that Israeli influence in Germany has reached the point of silencing every voice, even if it is Jewish, that supports the global campaign to boycott Israel (BDS).

In a previous article published on the British Middle East Eye website, Hefer said that Jews in the new Germany, who do not show support for Israel, do not enjoy the freedom to express their opinions.

According to the speaker, these Jews are prohibited from giving public speeches or owning museums that represent their culture, or even bank accounts, indicating that only Jews who support the Israeli vision are accepted in this society.

Federation of German Jews

On the other hand, more than 100 famous Jewish figures, including Jewish writers, artists, and academics, signed a letter condemning Germany’s repressive practices regarding the Palestinian issue following the recent war.

The signatories considered that “if this is an attempt to atone for German history, its effect is to risk its repetition,” and they also directed the message to the German government, the federal governments, and the general German public opinion.

The letter also noted that banning Palestinian symbols, such as the Palestinian flag and the keffiyeh, especially in schools or on public streets, are violations of civil rights.

She also recalled that many German cultural institutions yielded to this trend by canceling theatrical performances and intellectual seminars simply because one of their participants defended the rights of Palestinians, which these figures considered a major decline in the spear of expression in the country.

Media repression of Jews

For her part, Jewish human rights activist Iris Heifetz revealed to "Arabi Post" that Jews who oppose the official German discourse in support of Israel "are being boycotted and sanctioned, and no one talks to us or hosts us in the German press."

She adds: "What we have left is social media, so our point of view reaches many people, especially young people, but if you watch German television, you will never know about us."

Iris stressed that "Jews are subjected to more repression in Germany, but not all Jews. Rather, only Jews who stand in solidarity with the Palestinians are repressed, not those who justify Israel's massacres."

Iris explained in her interview with “Arabi Post” that there is “an attempt to target people who have greater influence first, such as journalists whose voice is heard and who have greater influence.”

But she confirmed that today there is targeting and repression, even of all people in the street and any pro-Palestinian voice. Considering that this repression is illegal, Iris says, “We can always go to court and win lawsuits, but that takes a long time and a lot of effort.”

Media alternative

Most Jewish writers and celebrities in Germany turned to social media or non-German international media to express their opinions, after they were suppressed in various forms within the German Republic.

Among them is the German-American writer, Deborah Feldman, who lives in Berlin, and who caused controversy because of an article she published entitled “Germany is a good place to be a Jew, unless you are like me: a Jew who criticizes Israel,” in the British newspaper The Guardian.

“Like most secular Jews in Germany, I have become accustomed to the aggression directed toward us by the powerful, state-backed protectors of ‘official Judaism’ here,” she said in the article.

Well-received theater performances in New York and Tel Aviv have been cancelled, writers and poets have been cancelled, awards have been withdrawn or postponed, and media companies have been pressured to exclude our voices.

Regarding her opinion on whether the current war will soon end, and peace will return to the region after the atrocities that the people of Gaza experienced, Iris responded by saying: “I do not believe that Israel is moving towards peace on its own unless a force from the international community forces it to do so.”

She added: “I do not see any force capable of doing this despite attempts such as those made by China as a force, and I also do not see that the Arab countries will exert pressure, in light of the strong grip of the United States, and therefore without international pressure on Israel, I do not see any truce or peace that will be achieved.” ".


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German Jews : We were arrested and expelled from our jobs because we criticized Israel