Frauen und LGBTI*

Statement des “Queers for Palestine”-Blocks gegen den Polizeieinsatz auf dem “Radical Queer March” in Berlin

Beim gestrigen "Radical Queer March" in Berlin wurde der "Queers for Palestine"-Block Ziel eines Polizeieinsatzes, den die Organisator*innen der Demonstration zu verantworten haben. Die Situation war grotesk: 50 Jahre nach dem Stonewall-Aufstand gegen Polizeigewalt rufen angebliche Linksradikale die Polizei, um sie gegen Teilnehmer*innen ihrer eigenen Demo einzusetzen. Die Organisator*innen des "Queers for Palestine"-Blocks haben nun ein Statement veröffentlicht. Wir spiegeln ihre Erklärung (auf Englisch).

Statement des

Our Lives, Our Streets! Palestine Solidarity in the Radical Queer March Berlin 2019

More than 500 peo­ple showed up for the Queers for Pales­tine block in the Berlin Rad­i­cal Queer March on Sat­ur­day, July 27, 2019. From the anti-deutsche “rad­i­cal queers” who evi­dent­ly called the police to block us, to the can­ce­la­tion of the queer after-par­ty at Liebig34 in protest of the queer march orga­niz­ers call­ing in cops in riot gear — it’s been a crit­i­cal day for Berlin. The time of silence on Pales­tine is over! The time of the White left dic­tat­ing peo­ple with lived expe­ri­ences of racism and colo­nial oppres­sion how to be free is over!

No Pride in Apartheid!

Queer Lib­er­a­tion — Stop the Occu­pa­tion!

No Jus­tice, No Peace! No Racist Police!

We’re Here! We’re Queer! Pales­tine is in Berlin!

Like oth­er rad­i­cal queer and trans folks, fem­i­nists, anar­chists and rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies of all sorts, we were excit­ed about the Rad­i­cal Queer March in Berlin. We were tak­en aback by the lev­el of aggres­sion and out­right phys­i­cal vio­lence we were to expe­ri­ence from fel­low queer orga­niz­ers and demon­stra­tors in an attempt to silence and exclude us. Unfath­omable that “rad­i­cal queers” would call the cops on queers of colour, migrants and refugees. But we did it. We marched togeth­er, felt our col­lec­tive pow­er and are thrilled, ener­gized and hope­ful for the future.

WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE THE MARCH

Here’s what hap­pened: On July 15, the orga­niz­ers stat­ed on their Face­book page that they would not tol­er­ate anti-Semit­ic groups and con­tent in the march and char­ac­ter­ized the cam­paign for BDS as inher­ent­ly anti-Semit­ic. This shame­ful accu­sa­tion made it clear that rad­i­cal queers com­mit­ted to free­dom and jus­tice for Pales­tine — includ­ing Pales­tini­ans, Arabs, Jews, Black and POC folks and white allies — are not wel­come nor safe at the March.

Pride is polit­i­cal and rad­i­cal queer pol­i­tics must be anti-colo­nial and anti-racist, so we decid­ed to reclaim our space and spon­ta­neous­ly called for a block of ‘Queers for Pales­tine’ via social media.

In response to the orga­niz­ers con­flat­ing sup­port of BDS with anti-Jew­ish racism and explic­it­ly exclud­ing sup­port­ers of BDS, two types of respons­es appeared on the Face­book event page for the march. On the one hand, extreme hate­ful com­ments (and even graph­ic visu­al mate­ri­als show­ing naked, tor­ment­ed corpses of alleged­ly gay-bashed queer Pales­tini­ans) smear­ing BDS sup­port­ers as racists and demand­ing our exclu­sion from the march.

White Ger­mans had the audac­i­ty to com­pare Jew­ish sup­port­ers of BDS to Nazis. Through the same twist­ed racist lens, they dared brand­ing any oppo­si­tion to Israeli colo­nial state vio­lence as big­ot­ted and even geno­ci­dal. For­get­ting that many of us, as Queers who have lived under the author­i­ty of those groups, have fought, and con­tin­ue to fight, against their big­ot­ed pol­i­tics and prac­tices that affect us large­ly.

On the oth­er hand, dozens of indi­vid­u­als — pri­mar­i­ly Arabs and oth­er POCs and Jews — kept point­ing out that the cam­paign for BDS isin­spired by and in the proud tra­di­tion of oth­er suc­cess­ful anti-racist and anti-colo­nial boy­cott move­ments, includ­ing the South African anti-apartheid move­ment.

BDS is sup­port­ed glob­al­ly by a myr­i­ad of social jus­tice orga­ni­za­tions and giants of anti-racist-lib­er­a­tion strug­gles from Desmond Tutu to Angela Davis. BDS is a non­vi­o­lent tac­tic to pres­sure Israel to com­ply with inter­na­tion­al law: (1) End the ille­gal occu­pa­tion of Pales­tin­ian land 2) Equal rights for Pales­tin­ian cit­i­zens of Israel and 3) the right of dis­placed Pales­tin­ian refugees to return to their ances­tral homes. Yet, those accus­ing BDS and its sup­port­ers as anti­se­mit­ic showed no inter­est and effort to engage beyond the same lazy, racist sound­bites.
Some exam­ples of queer sup­port­ers of BDS refus­ing to let White Ger­mans define racism and shame us into silence about injus­tice in Pales­tine :

  • “If the orga­niz­ers of this event deny the rights of Pales­tini­ans, queer or not, for self deter­mi­na­tion and to resist a racist occu­pa­tion in non-vio­lent means, there is noth­ing rad­i­cal or queer about this event.”
  • “Being pro-Pales­tin­ian and pro-BDS does not equal anti-semi­tism. Mak­ing claims like these under­mine the very real pres­ence of both anti-Jew­ish and anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ments that are rife in Europe at the moment”
  • “I’m anoth­er Queer Jew, who will not throw my Pales­tin­ian sib­lings under the bus. I can­not attend this March, unless it stands for the mar­gin­al­ized and oppressed!”

On July 25th, the orga­niz­ers released a state­ment (in Ger­man and Eng­lish) apol­o­giz­ing “for the undif­fer­en­ti­at­ed, across-the-board equa­tion of BDS with anti­semitism” yet insist­ing they “regard cer­tain meth­ods and lines of argu­ments of parts of the BDS move­ment” as anti­semtic — such as accus­ing Israel of pinkwash­ing.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE MARCH

We expect­ed a bunch of you to show up. We did not expect the amaz­ing — indeed, his­tor­i­cal! — turnout of over 500 peo­ple. We showed that much of queer Berlin is in sol­i­dar­i­ty with the Pales­tin­ian strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion and fed up with the suf­fo­cat­ing pol­i­tics of White enti­tle­ment in the city. Queer-fab­u­lous and con­fi­dent­ly we stepped into our pow­er, on our streets. A beau­ti­ful col­or­ful riot!

One of the par­tic­i­pants shared his account: “I walked around the entire march, to the expect­ed pre­dom­i­nance of White­ness and in con­trast of the Queers for Pales­tine block that was a beau­ti­ful and heart-warm­ing mix of queers and our allies. Queers that were White, Black, Brown, PoC, Lat­inxs, migrants, refugees, Pales­tini­ans, Israelis, Jew­ish, Turk­ish, US cit­i­zens, Ira­ni­ans, Indige­nous, undoc­u­ment­ed, sex-work­ers, anar­chists, antiFa.. and the list goes on. Many peo­ple showed up the Queers for Pales­tine block as a response to the way White Ger­mans have been attack­ing the block for days.”

Once the March began, one of the orga­niz­ers attempt­ed to tear down plac­ards read­ing “Queers for a free Pales­tine. Fight against: racism, islam­o­pho­bia, homo/transphobia, anti­semitism, apartheid!” Queer women* of col­or and Jew­ish women defend­ed them­selves against this act of phys­i­cal vio­lence. It became crys­tal clear that we were not safe in this march. Unsuc­cess­ful in forc­ing us to take our plac­ards down, the orga­niz­er went to talk to the police.

Soon after, the police blocked our path in full riot gear and demand­ed that we allow the rest of the march to pass through and stay behind ourselves.Apparently, some of the orga­niz­ers declared our block to not be part of the march. With our spir­its run­ning high yet afraid of pos­si­ble police vio­lence, we decid­ed to stay put and demand­ed our right to con­tin­ue march­ing. After a scary, nerve wrack­ing show­down, the orga­niz­ers called off the cops and we marched on.

Con­sid­er the absur­di­ty and gross­ness of this sit­u­a­tion: queers of col­or, migrants and refugees, unsafe at a “rad­i­cal queer march”, exposed to the vio­lence of the orga­niz­ers and hav­ing to face the cops (and in full riot gear). The very fact that we need to defend our­selves against phys­i­cal and police vio­lence at a “rad­i­cal queer march” is infu­ri­at­ing and deeply shame­ful. Not to men­tion the enor­mous stress and risk posed on par­tic­i­pants of our block, includ­ing asy­lum seek­ers, refugees, and undoc­u­ment­ed indi­vid­u­als.

The orga­niz­ers could have called for a plenum after the march to allow for open engage­ment and debate on these impor­tant issues affect­ing us as queers in the city and as activists com­mit­ted to jus­tice glob­al­ly. Instead they deployed the police, an insti­tu­tion known for its latent and active sup­port of racist, right-wing and ultra­na­tion­al­ist groups in Ger­many, let alone its struc­tur­al role in soci­ety and long­stand­ing, ongo­ing his­to­ries of vio­lence against Black and non-Black peo­ple of colour, trans and queer folks, migrants and refugees. We are sad and appalled in the face of this shame­ful betray­al in the name of ‘rad­i­cal queer’ pol­i­tics.

We reject the racist crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion and stig­ma­ti­sa­tion of the strug­gle for a free Pales­tine and its sup­port­ers, in par­tic­u­lar Pales­tini­ans who are con­flat­ed with being Mus­lim and who are always already con­struct­ed as uncon­trol­lably vio­lent and racist. We also reject the con­stant polic­ing of Jew­ish voic­es in Ger­many. White Ger­mans, self-appoint­ed as the defend­ers against anti-Semi­tism, con­tin­ue to attack Jew­ish peo­ple that don’t sub­scribe to their polit­i­cal agen­da of Zion­ism. We are in sol­i­dar­i­ty with each oth­er, against White polic­ing and hijack­ing of BIPoC and Jew­ish voic­es. We march togeth­er.

The anar­cha-fem­i­nist house project Liebig34 can­celed the post-march queer par­ty in protest of call­ing the cops. They announced the fol­low­ing on Twit­ter: “No cops at Pride! We don’t think it’s time for par­ty after what hap­pened today at #rad­i­calqueer­march. So we can­cel the par­ty at #Liebig34”. We thank Liebig34 for this act of sol­i­dar­i­ty.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE NATIONAL SYMBOLS?

Yes, we were aware of the orga­niz­ers’ request to avoid nation­al sym­bols and names of nation-states on posters and in chants. When we say “queers for a free Pales­tine”, it is not about nation­al­ism; it is about free­dom from colo­nial­ism, occu­pa­tion and apartheid. Through­out the 20th cen­tu­ry, the white Euro­pean left had a hard time under­stand­ing that decol­o­niza­tion strug­gles can­not be reduced to nation­al­ism. Col­o­nized peo­ples have been explain­ing this many times over. Enough is enough! Then the bla­tant dou­ble-stan­dard in regards to Israeli flags with rain­bow colours waived by a con­tin­gent of pro­tes­tors at the march. Even though we were hun­dreds of pro­tes­tors, our block had no nation­al­is­tic or racist poster, signs or chants. We showed up as an explic­it­ly anti-racist queer-fem­i­nist block protest­ing racist and colo­nial injus­tice right where we belong: at the rad­i­cal queer march in our city.

BREAKING THE SILENCE

For decades, Berlin’s left­ist and queer spaces suc­cess­ful­ly silenced any mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion about Pales­tine and the Ger­man state’s polit­i­cal, finan­cial and mil­i­tary sup­port of Israeli colo­nial state vio­lence. For a whole slew of rea­sons, the issue was both ignored and anx­ious­ly sup­pressed. This was pos­si­ble as long as this was a ‘the­o­ret­i­cal’ dis­cus­sion between pri­mar­i­ly white Ger­mans.

That time is over. Berlin is not so white any­more. There are too many Pales­tini­ans and oth­er Mid­dle East­ern­ers, Black peo­ple and POCs, migrants and refugees, Jews and Jew­ish Israelis, to sin­gle this issue out for ‘pro­tec­tion’ from open dis­cus­sion and debate. For us it’s not a the­o­ret­i­cal debate we can afford to put aside — it’s about our lives, and for some a mat­ter of both life and death. These are our streets, our pride week­end and we will bring our own fab­u­lous chairs if we don’t get seats at the table.

Once again, queer peo­ple of colour in sup­port of Pales­tine and their allies are accused of “hijack­ing” the parade and of “destroy­ing the alter­na­tive CSD”. This is a fur­ther demon­stra­tion that for some, our rights, our voic­es, are sec­ondary props that are wel­comed as long as we are silent, with­out step­ping into our pow­er as full humans with our own pol­i­tics and desires. This feeds into the very main­stream inte­gra­tion dis­course of the Ger­man state whose racist pol­i­tics these same White voic­es pro­claim to oppose oth­er­wise. If any­one hijacked the parade and caused this divi­sion, it is those who are refus­ing to lis­te­nand engage in actu­al debate. It is those who ostracise, mar­gin­alise and crim­i­nalise voic­es of colour to the ben­e­fit of White feel­ings of com­fort and ongo­ing White dom­i­nance.

We are here. We are queer. We are inter­na­tion­al­ists march­ing for inter­sec­tion­al fem­i­nist pol­i­tics, for trans lib­er­a­tion, for sex work­ers rights, for free­dom of move­ment and the right to stay, for a free Pales­tine, in sol­i­dar­i­ty with LGBTQI com­mu­ni­ties in Turkey, Rus­sia and every­where, for free­dom and jus­tice for all. And we will not be silenced!

WHO ARE WE AND HOW TO JOIN

This was a spon­ta­neous action. We are indi­vid­u­als, pri­mar­i­ly queer women*, active for a free Pales­tine in var­i­ous groups, and out­raged at the shame­less instru­men­tal­iza­tion of the lan­guage of anti-racism to fur­ther racist and colo­nial pol­i­tics. We are not a stand­ing group (yet), but we want to stay in touch with you all and claim our space as queers com­mit­ted to anti-racism and lib­er­a­tion for all!

For upcom­ing actions of Pales­tine sol­i­dar­i­ty, like the page “Palästi­na Spricht Pales­tine Speaks”.

Spe­cial thanks to Berlin against Pinkwash­ing for the beau­ti­ful plac­ards. Thank you to all par­tic­i­pants for show­ing up — we tru­ly didn’t expect such an impres­sive turnout. It was an hon­our to take the streets togeth­er and it sure brought much joy! Thank you to all the activists work­ing for years to break the silence on Pales­tine in Berlin. We know that such pow­er­ful actions build on years of hard work and activism.

For next year, let’s be back.

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