German Far-Left Organizations

German Far-Left Organizations

Internationale Liga fur Menschenrechte im Geiste von Carl von Ossietzky (ILMR)

Internationale Liga fur Menschenrechte im Geiste von Carl von Ossietzky (ILMR)

In English: International League for Human Rights In the spirit of Carl von Ossietzky (ILHR)

http://ilmr.de/

Orientation: far-left, human rights

Fields of operation: BDS promoting, “direct action” – demonstrations and events

According to its website, the roots of The International League for Human Rights (ILHR) go back to 1914. It operates on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the European Treaty of 1950, and some UN covenants of 1966. Its ideal is human rights, which include equal civil, political, social, economic, and cultural protection and rights of participation regardless of race, gender, color, religion, or political persuasion. The ILHR is an NGO financed entirely by member fees and contributions. Its foremost aim is to create a critical public in order to put pressure on governments. It organizes and participates in demonstrations, protests, and petition campaigns, organizes seminars and panels, publishes books and pamphlets, and contributes to the media. It opposes violations in criminal law and calls for the return of the full fundamental right of political asylum and for adopting anti-discrimination law.83 The ILHR operates committees working on various issues, among them an expert committee on International Law Palestine/Israel (IRPI), whose dedicated webpage currently calls for the release of several activists detained in Israel.84

ILHR’s current President is Fanny Michaela Reisin, an Israeli-born academic and pacifist who teaches at the Berlin University for Applied Sciences. Apparently this is the second time Reisin fills this role. In the late 1990s, she replaced the late Israeli-born, pro-Palestinian activist Alisa Fuss, who also founded AK Nahost (see below). Martin Forberg is a board member of the ILHR, who participated in the July 2011 flytilla to Ben-Gurion airport.85 He is a prominent activist who speaks at demonstrations and calls to promote boycotts on Israel,86 including by the arms industry. He also translates articles from English to German for the main BDS website in Germany (http://bds-kampagne.de/). Iris Hefets, an Israeli far-left Mizrahi activist, who has been living in Berlin since the early 2000s, is a member of the board of ILHR and activist in Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East (JVJP).87

Martin Forberg (right) being interviewed during a demonstration opposite the offices of the German weapons manufacturer Rheinmetall.

Martin Forberg (right) being interviewed during a demonstration opposite the offices of the German weapons manufacturer Rheinmetall.88

Fanny Michaela Reisin

Fanny Michaela Reisin

AK Nahost (Arbeits Kreis Nahost) Berlin

AK Nahost (Arbeits Kreis Nahost) Berlin

In English: Middle East Working Group Berlin

http://aknahost.org/

Orientation: far-left

Fields of operation: BDS promoting, “direct action” events

AK Nahost Berlin is a group founded by the late ILHR President Alisa Fuss, and it lists its address at the ILHR Berlin office.89 Fuss, a German-born Jew who lived in Mandatory Palestine and Israel for part of her life, was a member of the Jewish section of the Palestine Communist Party (PKP),90 which considered Zionism as a reactionary movement and claimed it served British Imperialism. According to its website, AK Nahost Berlin was founded in 1982, following the Israeli invasion to Lebanon, by Fuss, who “fought against the injustice inflicted on the Palestinians.” “Through public relations, such as educational events, rallies and vigils, she tried to raise awareness of the Palestine conflict in a broader German public.” AK Nahost Berlin “aspires to make the Palestinian narrative heard in German public, show and demand solidarity with the Palestinians in the Middle East and abroad, cooperate with like-minded NGOs, and provide information on the current social and political situation in the region so that European institutions are no longer able to tolerate violations of human rights and international law.” It holds various events with scientists, politicians, and activists and takes part in rallies to commemorate important historical events.91 AK Nahost Berlin is also a member of KoPI (see below).

Deutsch-Palästinensische Gesellschaft (DPG)

Deutsch-Palästinensische Gesellschaft (DPG)

In English: German-Palestinian Society

In Arabic: Al-Jam’iyya Al-Almaniyya Al-Filastiniyya

http://www.dpg-netz.de/

Orientation: far-left, Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood

Fields of operation: “direct action” – events

The Deutsch-Palästinensische Gesellschaft (DPG) is a non-profit organization founded in Cologne in 1986.It aims to correct the “prejudices” against the Palestinians in German society, media, and politics, “clarify the causes and background of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and help ensure that the conflict is balanced and appropriate.” The DPG states it looks for peaceful dialogue with relevant partners from politics and society, having been committed to peace in the Middle East, which permanently secures the viability of Palestine, and advocating understanding and a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis. The DPG promotes exchanges between German and Palestinian individuals, groups, and institutions in the fields of politics, science, culture, and society. It is important for it to create friendships between people from Germany and Palestine.92 In March 2015, what seems to be a new branch of the DPG was launched under the auspices of the Auslandsinstitut Europa Zentrum, an institute for political education operated by the state government of North-Rhine Westphalia.93 Atallah Hanna, Archbishop of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, attended the event.94 The DPG supports the removal of the marine blockade from the Gaza Strip and raises funds for projects such as Gaza’s Ark.95

Some of the main figures at DPG are:

  • Raif Hussein: President of DPG, born in Nazareth, who came in Germany during the first half of the 1980s. Hussein holds an MA in political sciences and wrote his dissertation on Political Islam in the Middle East, using the example of Hamas.96
Raif Hussein

Raif Hussein, President of DPG.97

  • Nazih Musharbash: Vice-president of DPG for political work and events. Musharbash was born in Amman and grew up in Bethlehem. He moved to Germany in 1965 and subsequently worked as a teacher of chemistry and biology.
Nazih Musharbash

Nazih Musharbash, Vice-President of DPG.98

  • Gisela Siebourg: Second Vice-President of DPG for international affairs and Europe. Siebourg was born in Regensburg in 1937, and in 1961 completed her studies at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She worked as a translator and interpreter, mainly at the Federal Foreign Office, where she also headed its interpretation and languages services until her retirement in 2002. She has been a board member of the DPG since 2002. She represents the DPG at the European Coordination of Committees and associations for Palestine (ECCP) and has been a member of the Kairos Palestine Solidarity Network. Siebourg was also in charge, on behalf of the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), of German participation in the 2010 Freedom Flotilla.99
Gisela Siebourg

Gisela Siebourg100

In December 2014, Raif Hussein, Gisela Siebourg, and Nazih Musharbash visited the German Foreign Office, where they met the heads of the Middle East Department and the Palestine Department. They complained about alleged crimes committed by the IDF and the “settlers” against the Palestinians and alleged violations by Israel of agreements signed by it with the Palestinian side.101

Der Deutsche Koordinationskreis Palästina Israel – für ein Ende der Besatzung und für einen gerechten Frieden (KoPI)

The German Coordination Committee Palestine Israel

In English: The German Coordination Committee Palestine Israel – for an end to occupation and for a just peace (KoPI)

http://www.kopi-online.de/wordpress/?page_id=26

Orientation: far-left

Fields of operation: BDS promoting, “direct action” – events

KoPI is an umbrella organization, which aims to bring to public attention the necessity for self-determination of the Palestinians and for the “end of the occupation.” Its website contains BDS-promoting material, accusations of Israel adopting an Apartheid policy, information, and links to various trips to Palestinian territories, and more. The website also links to several leading far-left groups connected to BDS, “direct action” against Israel, etc. KoPI also organizes conferences and workshops to promote BDS. In October 2011, for example, it brought the BDS National Committee (BNC) European Coordinator Michael Deas to speak about the necessity of imposing a military embargo on Israel.102

Gisela Siebourg is a central figure at KoPI, where she acts as vice-president of the DPG and serves as chief editor of KoPI’s website (the rights of which are reserved to the DPG).103

Gisela Siebourg and Michael Deas

Gisela Siebourg hosting European coordinator of the BNC Michael Deas in a KoPI workshop, October 2011.104

Another prominent participant in events and activities held by KoPI is Annette Groth, a Die Linke Party MP since 2009.105 Groth has been Die Linke’s human rights policy spokesman and deputy member of the Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development, as well as on the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid. She has also been a member of the Working Group VI Foreign Policy and International Relations. Groth is a feminist activist and a member of Pax Christi.106 Alongside another two Die Linke MPs – Inge Höger and Norman Paech– Groth took part in the 2010 Freedom Flotilla.107 In 2012, she said German Churches should be “stepping up pressure on the Federal Government so that German foreign policymakers, too, push for an end to the blockade. The Federal Government’s silence on this issue is not acceptable and must be broken.”108

Annette Groth

Annette Groth109

A section in KoPI’s website is dedicated to the July 2011 Welcome to Palestine flytilla, which was largely attended by German participants.110

Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost

Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost

In English: The Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East (JVJP)

http://www.juedische-stimme.de/

Orientation: Jewish far-left

Fields of operation: BDS promoting, “direct action” – demonstrations

The Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East (JVJP) is a far-left Jewish organization that also includes several Israeli or ex-Israeli figures who were previously affiliated with far-left Israeli groups. It is also part of a coalition called European Jews for a Just Peace (EJJP).

The organization demonstrates against fundraising events by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). It connects and provides a platform to Israeli far-left activists, with an emphasis on refusal to enlist in the IDF for reasons of conscience. In late 2016, it was reported that JVJP’s bank account was closed due to its support for BDS.111 Shir Hever, a board member of JVJP and economist with the Israeli Alternative Information Centre (AIC), a leading Palestinian/Israeli far-left organization led by former Matzpen (Jerusalem) leader Michel Warschawski (Mikado), wrote an article about this in UK-based, English-language, pro-Islamist outlet Middle East Eye. In the article, He wrote,  “This is the first time since World War II that a German bank has closed the account of a Jewish organization,” adding that, “Many Jews from all over the world support BDS, not only out of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, but also in an effort to rescue Judaism from being equated with Zionism.”112

In October 2014, shortly after Operation Protective Edge, (which the group referred to as a “massacre,” see below) and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech at the United Nations, Hever wrote a post titled Annexation and Colonization under the Guise of “Jewish Heritage” – Not in Our Name. Hever alleged that Netanyahu “was perhaps hoping that attacking ISIS and Iran would distract the world from Israel’s war crimes” and, on behalf of JVJP, renewed the call “on European countries and especially on Germany to cease arms sales to Israel immediately.”113

The JVJP is headed by Michal Kaiser Livne, a psychoanalyst. In July 2014, Kaiser Livne was among several dozen far-left Israeli citizens who addressed a letter to the European Council, Commission, and European Parliament, calling on the European Union to pressure Israel to accept Hamas’s terms of truce during Operation Protective Edge. According to the signatories on the letter –

The terms echo previous recommendations made by the UN and the European Union and major human rights organizations, most notably the Goldstone Report. The refusal of the Israeli government to address these terms results in the sacrifice of civilian lives for the sake of ongoing occupation, and thwarting the long-awaited Palestinian national unity agreement.114

One of JVJP’s prominent activists is UK-born writer and novelist Ruth Fruchtman. In September 2015, BDS Berlin hosted Ruth Fruchtman and the late Israeli member of Boycott from Within, Renen Raz, for a talk.115

Ruth Fruchtman speaking at a JVJP-led demonstration

Ruth Fruchtman speaking at a JVJP-led demonstration during Operation Protective Edge, July 2014

In November 2013, JVJP held a demonstration against the “strategic partnership” of the Congress organizers with the Jewish National Fund (JNF) at the 3rd Israel Congress in Berlin.  According to a post by the European Jews for a Just Peace:

80-100 protesters followed the call of the Jewish Voice and made clear on numerous posters, banners and leaflets, what they believed the so called “green” policy of the JNF means for the indigenous Palestinian, non-Jewish population in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories: Land robbery, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid. In Arabic, German, English, and Hebrew, the protesters demanded ”Stop the JNF; stop the Land robbery in East Jerusalem, in Silwan, in the Jordan Valley, in Al Arakib, in the Naqab.116

JVJP demonstration

Direct Action Berlin

Direct Action Berlin

www.facebook.com/DirectActionBerlin

Orientation: far-left

Fields of operation: BDS promoting, “direct action” – demonstrations

Direct Action Berlin is a far-left group that seems to have been active between 2012-2013. The group saw its target audience in people who are marginalized and suffering because of inequality originating from class, race, or gender issues. They include those suffering from capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism, sexism, heteronormativity, racism, imperialism, dictatorship, or totalitarianism, regardless of geographic limitations.117

The group focused its activities on demonstrating against, and disrupting, JNF events. In October 2012, for example, some members of the groups disrupted a JNF fundraiser, yelling slogans like, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”118 The group also expressed its solidarity with Arab-Israeli workers.119

Direct Action Berlin parade

A demonstration parade of Direct Action Berlin, May 2013. The activists carry a placard in German saying, “International solidarity with the Palestinian workers inside,” i.e. Arab-Israelis

F.O.R Palestine – For One State and Return in Palestine

F.O.R Palestine

http://for-palestine.org/en/

Orientation: Arab far-left

Fields of operation: BDS promoting, “direct action” – demonstrations

F.O.R. Palestine is a group dedicated to the promotion of solidarity work with Palestine in Europe and the diaspora, which was formed in late 2015 by members of Direct Action Berlin.120 It seems that the members of the group are mainly secular and of Palestinian descent.

The group supports the one-state solution and the Palestinian right of return. It states that, “The strategy of Zionist colonization of Palestine was to combine its aggression on the ground with appeals to the major colonial and imperial powers,” and maintains that, “The abolishment of Zionist control means the de-colonization and de-Zionization of Palestine.” Furthermore, it adds that the main role in creating the process of change “would be taken by the Palestinian resistance in all its forms.” Finally, the group sees BDS as “one of the strongest and clearest calls coming out of Palestine at the moment and as such it deserves our complete support,” adding that, “While it is certainly not the only way of resisting the Zionist occupation, and all other means are legitimate and have our solidarity, it is a simple and effective mean of fighting Zionism and offering practical solidarity to the people resisting this regime from the inside.”121

For one state and return in Palestine

F.O.R. Palestine – For one state and return in Palestine. Facebook profile picture, November 29, 2015.122

The group shares and promotes BDS material and takes part in various demonstrations and events. On its Facebook page it also publishes events by other organizations, including those belonging to the far Left.

BDS Gruppe Berlin

BDS Gruppe Berlin

http://bdsberlin.org/

https://www.facebook.com/bdsberlin.org/

Orientation: far-left

Fields of operation: BDS promoting, “direct action” – demonstrations and events

BDS Gruppe Berlin is a significant group of activists in the city that organizes demonstrations and events in cooperation with other, previously referred to, groups. For example, the group played a key role alongside F.O.R. Palestine in organizing Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) in February-March 2016.123

Doris Ghannam, a co-founder of the group, said in an interview she boycotts products of companies who profit from “Israeli policy of colonization, apartheid, and occupation.” Ghannam added she believes in the BDS movement because “it has consistently adopted a rights-based approach and an anti-racist platform that rejects all forms of racism, including anti-Muslim racism and anti-Semitism.”124 In April 2016, Ghannam hosted an event in Berlin’s Kruetzberg district, known as a hub for leftist political activism. The event featured Iyad Burnat, head of the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall, who came to Germany to promote the global BDS campaign, but fewer than a dozen people showed up. “Mainstream Germans have to understand that the non-violent, Palestinian-led BDS movement is an answer to the failure of the international community, which ignores Israel’s violation of international law and human rights,” Ghannam said.125

Doris Ghannam is also listed as the contact person of the main German BDS platform (http://bds-kampagne.de/). In February 2016 it was reported that the DAB Bank in Munich was to close the account of bds-kampagne, which accepted money transfers. The report noted that DAB Munich is the German branch of its French mother company bank, BNP Paribas, and that French law outlaws BDS activity. The spokesman for the bank wrote in an e-mail: “Because of bank secrecy [financial laws], we cannot provide you with concrete information about the account. We took the information very seriously and are examining the topic and are taking, if necessary, the corresponding measures.”126 In April 2017, bds-kampagne held a workshop in Stuttgart with Shir Hever of JVJP and AIC, who spoke about HP and the BDS.127

Doris Ghannam (left) and Gisela Siebourg (right)

Doris Ghannam (left) and Gisela Siebourg (right), in a workshop organized by KoPI as part of “The campaign against Agrexco” October 2011.128

A workshop organized by KoPI as part of “The campaign against Agrexco” October 2011

Opening of the event’s clip129

A demonstration held by BDS Berlin in front of the headquarters of Fruit Logistica

A demonstration held by BDS Berlin in front of the headquarters of Fruit Logistica against the import of Israeli agricultural products, February 2016.130

BDS Hamburg

BDS Hamburg

https://www.facebook.com/bdshamburg/

Orientation: far-left

Fields of operation: BDS promoting, “direct action” – demonstrations and events

BDS Hamburg is a group of activists, who mainly come from a far-left background, based in that city. Its Facebook page, which has been active since 2015, also promotes events and refers to articles connected to various fields in the delegitimization campaign.

BDS Hamburg demonstration, April 2017

BDS Hamburg demonstration, April 2017131

BDS Gruppe Bonn

https://bdsgruppebonn.wordpress.com/ (blog)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/bds.bonn/

Orientation: far-left

Fields of operation: BDS promoting, “direct action” – demonstrations and events

BDS Gruppe Bonn is a group of activists, who mainly come from a far-left background, based in that city. Its members share various clips and support actions presented as BDS commercial successes, and its Facebook page also provides relevant flyers. It also promotes or takes part in organizing various pro-BDS lectures and talks. In March 2017, for example, it co-organized a talk by pro-BDS activist Dr. Martin Breidert.132

VPGD Deutschland – Verband der Palästinensischen Gemeinden Deutschland

Verband der Palästinensischen Gemeinden Deutschland

In English: General Union of Palestinian Communities in Germany

In Arabic: Itihad Al-Jaliyat Al-Filastiniyya Almania

Orientation: Arab nationalist, Fatah

Fields of operation: “direct action,” BDS promoting

The Federation of Palestinian Communities Germany (VPGD) is the German branch of the General Union of Palestinian Communities in Europe,133 an umbrella group affiliated with Fatah. The German group’s Facebook page promotes various calls by the European umbrella, which also supports and promotes BDS,134 as well as by other branches. In December 2017, VPGD co-organized one of the rallies against Trump’s declaration that preparations began for moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The rally took place in front of the U.S. Consulate General in Frankfurt. The organizers said they support the “days of wrath” and called for “no relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem under the breach of international law and UN resolutions.”135