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London Protest Condemns Germany's Attacks On BDS - Stripping Novelist Kamila Shamsie of Award For Supporting Palestinian Rights


inminds
30 September 2019



London protest against German attack on BDS - stripping novelist Kamila Shamsie of award for supporting BDS


On 27th September 2019, Inminds Human Rights Group protested outside the Goethe Institut in London to condemn Germany's attacks on the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement for Palestinian Rights, and Germany's attempts to criminalise support for Palestinian rights. The latest such attack was on novelist Kamila Shamsie who was stripped of her literary award for supporting BDS.

The Goethe Institut was set up by the German government in 1951 to spread German culture and language through out the world. Currently there are 159 Goethe institutes operating worldwide, include this one in London. They are bankrolled by the German foreign office, and as such are an organ of the state. A state that is today banning Palestinian groups from participating in cultural events, a state that is today silencing Palestinian voices, a state that is today criminalising advocacy for Palestinian human rights.

GERMAN PARLIAMENT MOTION EQUATES BDS TO NAZI ANTI-SEMITISM

On 17th May 2019 Germany’s Bundestag became the first parliament in Europe to pass a motion labelling the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel as antisemitic, accusing it of using what it called Nazi-era tactics. The resolution submitted by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and shamefully supported by the Liberals and Greens, accused the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement of utilizing "patterns and methods" used by the Nazi movement during the Holocaust.

The BDS movement has responded that the German parliament’s equation of the nonviolent BDS movement for Palestinian rights with anti-semitism is based on outright lies. It’s not only anti-Palestinian McCarthyism, it is a betrayal of international law, German democracy and the fight against real anti-Jewish racism.. The German establishment is entrenching its complicity in Israel's crimes of military occupation, ethnic cleansing, siege and apartheid, while desperately trying to shield it from accountability to international law.

Seven human rights groups in Israel have condemned the motion in an open letter to the German parliament saying it was “a disservice to the true fight against antisemitism to equate it with BDS”. A similar statement was also issued by Jewish Scholars.

Despite such widespread condemnation, this legislation has since been used to stifle freedom of speech and close down meetings of Palestinian speakers and activists across Germany.




London protest against German attack on BDS - stripping novelist Kamila Shamsie of award for supporting BDS



London protest against German attack on BDS - stripping novelist Kamila Shamsie of award for supporting BDS



Leaflet (front): Germany Strips Novelist Kamila Shamsie Of Award Fro Supporting Palestinian Rights



Leaflet (back): Germany Strips Novelist Kamila Shamsie Of Award Fro Supporting Palestinian Rights

PALESTINIAN GROUPS BANNED FROM BONN CULTURAL FESTIVAL


The German-Palestinian Women’s Association was banned from participating in the Bonn cultural festival because they support BDS. This banning was only overturned after a Cologne court ruled that the exclusion constituted “unequal treatment” and a breach of the law. Two other groups - The German-Palestinian Society and the Palestinian Community of Bonn, banned on similar pretexts, also sued the city and are awaiting the court’s ruling.

PERSECUTION OF KHALED BARAKAT


On 22 June 2019, renowned Palestinian writer and activist Khaled Barakat, was subject to a political ban by the German state preventing him from speaking about Palestine at any public event or activity. Barakat was taken to a police station and presented with an 8-page document and told that he was not allowed to give speeches in person or over video, participate in political meetings or events or even attend social gatherings of over 10 people; he was told that violations were punishable by up to a year in prison.

BANNING OF TALIB KWELL


In June 2019 the American rapper Talib Kweli, who had been invited to perform at the Open Source Festival in the city of Düsseldorf, revealed that he had received an email from the artistic director of the festival, Philipp Maiburg, highlighting the Bundestag motion and demanding the artist publicly denounce BDS. Although the Bundestag resolution is nonbinding, Maiburg asserted that “All administrations of regions or cities, as well as representatives of public institutions, are asked not to give BDS any room or platform.”

Kweli rejected Germany's demand to denounce the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement for Palestinian rights. In a repy on facebook he said "By lying and saying that BDS is an anti-Semitic movement, the German government is engaging in fascism and doing a disservice to the German people. Boycotting, divesting and sanctioning are peaceful solutions to the crisis that destroys Palestinian homes and lives. It is the opposite of terrorism. It worked to make South Africa a fairer and more equal nation and it could work in Israel if its opponents were not so anti-black and anti-Muslim. I would like to perform in Germany but I don’t need to. I’d rather be a decent human being and stand up for what’s right than censor myself and lie about BDS for a check.”

BERLIN JEWISH MUSEUM DIRECTOR FORCED TO RESIGN

On 14th June 2019, Peter Schafer, Director of Berlin's Jewish Museum was pressured to resign after he posted a tweet supporting a petition signed by 240 Jewish intellectuals declaring that “boycotts are a legitimate and nonviolent tool of resistance”.

JEWISH VOICE FOR A JUST PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST BANK ACCOUNT CLOSED

In June 2019 Germany's Bank for Social Economy, considered a relatively progressive bank in Germany, closed the account of Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, a Jewish solidarity organisation in Germany that won the 2019 Gottingen Peace Prize. It was the first closure of an account in Germany belonging to a Jewish organization since World War II. The bank’s chairman, Harald Schmitz, demanded Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East denounce BDS in order to keep their account, something he reveal other customers of the bank had to do in writing. The bank had undertaken a policing role to silence BDS activists in Germany.

STRIPPING NOVELIST KAMILA SHAMSIE OF LITERARY AWARD


Such persecution of BDS activists came to ahead when last week on 18th September 2019 renowned British - Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie, Winner of UK's 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction, was stripped of the German literary prize for her support for BDS. She had been awarded the Nelly Sachs Prize by the city of Dortmund before the jury bowed to pressure and reversed their decision. This followed a complaint by right-wing blog Ruhrbarone, which had previously been accused of calling for the genocide of Palestinians. In a statement the organisers said "With its vote for the British writer Kamila Shamsie as the winner of the Nelly Sachs Prize 2019, the jury honoured the author's outstanding literary work. At that time, despite prior research, the members of the jury were not aware that the author has been participating in the boycott measures against the Israeli government for its Palestinian policies since 2014."

Kamila Shamsie condemned the decision saying "In the just-concluded Israeli elections, Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to annex up to one third of the West Bank, in contravention of international law, and his political opponent Benny Gantz’s objection to this was that Netanyahu had stolen his idea; this closely followed the killing of two Palestinian teenagers by Israeli forces - which was condemned as ‘appalling’ by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. In this political context, the jury of the Nelly Sachs prize has chosen to withdraw the award from me on the basis of my support for a non-violent campaign to bring pressure on the Israeli government. It is a matter of great sadness to me that a jury should bow to pressure and withdraw a prize from a writer who is exercising her freedom of conscience and freedom of expression; and it is a matter of outrage that the BDS movement (modelled on the South African boycott) that campaigns against the government of Israel for its acts of discrimination and brutality against Palestinians should be held up as something shameful and unjust."

Shamsie had asked Dortmund’s city council to include her statement in their official press release, but they refused.

Over 300 internationally renowned writers denounced Dortmund’s city council's decision to strip Kamila Shamsie of the literary award over her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights. In a letter published in the London Review of Books, the authors noted their "dismay" over Dortmund's decision to "punish" Shamsie for her political views. The letter read "What is the meaning of a literary award that undermines the right to advocate for human rights, the principles of freedom of conscience and expression, and the freedom to criticise? Without these, art and culture become meaningless luxuries".



London protest against German attack on BDS - stripping novelist Kamila Shamsie of award for supporting BDS



London protest against German attack on BDS - stripping novelist Kamila Shamsie of award for supporting BDS

PALESTINE EXPO



Germany's capitulation to Israel has far reaching consequences. Here in the UK, the Israeli lobby tried to use the motion passed in the German parliament to blackmail three German co-owners of Olympia to cancel the Palestine Expo cultural event being held there last July. The Israel lobby in this instance failed, but the dangers to freedom of speech are clear.

GOETHE INSTITUT RESPONSIBILITY


The Goethe Institut claims to be independent. We ask the Goethe Institut to condemn these attacks on freedom of speech and attempts to criminalise human rights advocacy for Palestinians, so to salvage what little reputation remains of Germany in the eyes of the world.

FINAL WORDS FROM PALESTINIAN WRITER NADA ELIA


We finish with the words of Palestinian writer Nada Elia, who wrote "Ultimately, whether boycotting Israel is criminalised or not, the “legality” of a movement, ideology, policy, or practice is no indicator of its moral integrity. Apartheid was the law, until it was abolished. So was slavery. And, to return to the German context, so was the Holocaust. Even if BDS were to become illegal, a crime, it would not be immoral. When the law sides with the oppressor, those resisting it and seeking to change it have the moral high ground."

Free Palestine!



London protest against German attack on BDS - stripping novelist Kamila Shamsie of award for supporting BDS



London protest against German attack on BDS - stripping novelist Kamila Shamsie of award for supporting BDS



London protest against German attack on BDS - stripping novelist Kamila Shamsie of award for supporting BDS

GALLERY


#

Source: www.inminds.com


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