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Amid fierce debate, members of German think tank take a stand on Gaza

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The following is a statement by scholars, ex-scholars and associates of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Germany, a think tank associated with the Left Party.  The Foundation’s official position on Palestine is currently under debate and it is periodically accused of antisemitism in German political discourse because of the Palestine-activism of many of its members.

Disclaimer: This statement is supported by the undersigned. It does not speak in the name of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in its entirety. Within the Foundation, we are not united – quite a couple of students strongly oppose the positions presented herein.

Declaration by some scholars, professors and employees of Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (RLS) concerning Gaza

1. Protest

We, students, former students, contact lecturers, employees and free staff of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation would like to hereby express our horror at the Israeli massacre in Gaza that is taking place before our eyes. We are not in favour of every means by the Palestinian resistance; we are against rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, but – this should be made clear – in a clearly scaled-down form, not only with respect to the technical terms of arms technology, but also politically and morally. We call, together with thousands of other groups around the world, in Israel and in the territories occupied by Israel for the immediate cessation of Israeli military operations. We are in favour of an immediate and long-term truce, although this certainly is not enough.

2. No symmetry!

Not only in terms of weaponry, but especially politically, there is no symmetry between the two sides. One side is the oppressor, the other the oppressed. It is not Palestine that holds Israel occupied, under siege (Gaza), fragmented (West Bank) and without political rights. It is not Palestine that erects colonial settlements in Israel and not Palestine that steals water from Israel. It is not Palestinian police that has arrested thousands of Israeli prisoners and deported them into the oPt, not Palestinian police, which carries out nocturnal raids on Israeli homes, which tortures Israeli prisoners on a daily basis and which locks up Israeli citizens indefinitely and without trial (administrative detention). Colonial asymmetry – this is the cause of this one-sided so-called “war”. We, the undersigned individuals at RLS consider it our duty to express our views in a fair and balanced assessment. But our fairness and balance does not mean that we were neutral. The occupation is like the “wind”, out of which the current “storm” arises – they are both made up “from the same matter” as German poet Bertholt Brecht wrote in his poem “A War Primer”. Therefore, a ceasefire is not sufficient. The blockade must be lifted immediately; all political prisoners must be released, in particular the re-arrested prisoners who had been released in the Gilad Shalit deal; a connection between the West Bank and Gaza must be allowed, as guaranteed under the Oslo accords. Last not least, the Israeli occupation must end, once and forever.

No symmetry! We emphasize: The Palestinians have the right to resistance, as much as any militarily occupied population in the world. They may not have the right to every means of resistance, but nonetheless the right to resist. (If we unequivocally dissociate ourselves politically from some individual means and methods or from certain Palestinian actors, this does not entail that we question the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to resist the occupation – to the contrary.) Israel violently suppresses any form and any means of this resistance – wrongly, without justification. Palestinians – does this still have to be emphasized in the Germany of the 21st century? – are entitled to the right to freedom, to a life under dignified conditions, not only to human rights but to full, comprehensive political and civil rights. There is no reason or justification in the world to deny them these rights. This right exists and applies to Palestinians unconditionally, as much as it does to any other nation on earth (and regardless whether under a one-, two-, three-, or no-state scenario).

3. Germany and our particular responsibility

Germany and its ruling political class are neither neutral, nor balanced or equidistant. The same Israel, which denies the nation under its oppression any democracy, freedom, basic human and civil rights for half a century (and now again for three weeks with tanks and bombers) is courted by Germany as a close strategic partner, supplied with generous multi-billion dollar weapons systems and privileged economically through dozens of special rules and treaties in business, politics, and culture. (Settler products are just the tip of this iceberg.) On a daily basis, Germany – deliberately, by its actions and by its silence – turns itself into an accomplice in keeping the occupation functioning and running; in the daily violation of even the minimal guarantees under Oslo, in allowing Israel to feel above international rights, obligations and minimum standards, and to act accordingly.

Germany, its ruling class and its political personnel, chooses and picks the side with which it aligns in a thousand different ways. We say not in our name! As fellows of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation – her legacy is our commitment – we are against any form, type and degree of colonialism, apartheid and occupation – including the Israeli… Our understanding of politics and history is a different one. We do not believe that Germany’s responsibility for the industrial extermination of six million Jews – as well as our special responsibility to be alert against any form of anti-Semitism and to never allow history to repeat itself – should translate themselves into the support of the regime of institutionalized and systematic discrimination and dispossession practiced by the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.

Written on July 30, 2014 


Clemens Messerschmid, Ramallah
Karin Gerster, Stuttgart
Krista Nowak, Berlin
Helga Baumgarten, Jerusalem
Werner Ruf, Edermünde / Kassel
Stefanie Fischbach, Berlin
Amir Taha, Tübingen
Garnet Bräunig, Hamburg
Georg Auerheimer, Traunstein
Leandros Fischer, Cologne
John Lütten, Berlin
John P. Neelsen, Tübingen
Loren Balhorn, Berlin
Anton Thun, Berlin
Max Manzey, Berlin
Simon Eberhardt, Cologne
Eirini Iliopoulou, Berlin
Cigdem Kaya, Dinslaken
Jules El-Khatib, Essen
Thomas Haschke, Stuttgart
Catarina Principe, Berlin
Ole Vincent Guinand, Berlin
Nadia Johanne Kabalan, Berlin
Ben Rassbach, Berlin
Tilman von Berlepsch, Berlin
Johannes Maria Becker, Marburg

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28 Responses

  1. lysias on August 19, 2014, 3:49 pm

    Rosa Luxemburg was put in jail because of her opposition to war.

    • seafoid on August 19, 2014, 5:11 pm

      French leader Jean Jaurès was killed because he opposed the war.

      Mitterand used him as a theatrical prop in 1981

      • lysias on August 19, 2014, 5:18 pm

        Jean Jaurès is now regarded as a hero. Unlike the politicians like Poincaré who led France into war.

    • LeaNder on August 19, 2014, 5:18 pm

      Recent Israeli Gaza Endeavors:


      Rainbow, May 2004
      Days of Penitence, December 2004
      Summer Rains, June 2006
      Autumn Clouds, October 2006
      Hot Winter, February 2008
      Cast Lead, December 2008,
      Pillar of Defense, November 2012
      Protective Edge, 2014 ongoing

      Uri Weltman, The long road to Gaza. Link with pdf.file – Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

      A no doubt major US journalistic highlight in the context of helpful media collaboration:
      ( The Gaza Bombshell, David Rose, April 2008 VF )

  2. Kay24 on August 19, 2014, 4:05 pm

    Wunderbar! I can understand the Germans being so reluctant and cautious to make any stand against Israel, considering the unfortunate history, but these are independent young thinkers, and have the right to state what they feel is right, and that is war crimes against undeserving civilians in Gaza is unacceptable. They break away from previous generations, who would have been accused of being anti-semitic, but is are the newer generation, and they are free to do what other human beings, even in Israel, should be able to do – freely speak out.
    Das ist alles.

    • German Lefty on August 20, 2014, 3:51 am

      I can understand the Germans being so reluctant and cautious to make any stand against Israel, considering the unfortunate history

      Really? I don’t! If people understand that putting Jews into ghettos and slaughtering them is wrong, then these people must also understand that putting Palestinians into ghettos and slaughtering them is wrong too. That’s only logical.
      Besides, by refusing to speak out against Israel (Zionists) because of German history (Jews), our politicans equate Jews with Zionists. If any anti-Zionist equated Jews with Zionists, our politicians would immediately accuse him of anti-Semitism. Total double standard: It’s only anti-Semitic when anti-Zionists do it.
      So, don’t let Germany (or Israel) get away with Zionism because of former Nazism. One doesn’t excuse the other.

      • Theo on August 20, 2014, 9:34 am

        My sympathy, Lefty. 90% of the germans are either born after WWII or were too young to be responsible for any deeds against the jews. What I find in this land is that the people doesn´t know what civil courage is, they complain at home or at the “stammtisch”, but have no guts to stand up to their politicians. Other nations, like the italians, french or greeks have huge demonstrations to fight for their rights, have you ever seen one in Germany?
        In my opinion the jews at MW fight more for the rights of the palestinians than all the german press together. The politicians, forget them, just a critic of the zionist Israel may end their career, the Jewish Central Committee brings out and swings the huge holocaust hammer!

      • German Lefty on August 20, 2014, 1:39 pm

        Other nations, like the italians, french or greeks have huge demonstrations to fight for their rights, have you ever seen one in Germany?
        Yes, I did. For example, there were demonstrations for Snowden, for Gaza, for gay rights and also against gay rights. However, it’s true that in France it’s much more common that people take to the streets.
        Perhaps Germans believe that demonstrations are for the most part pointless because politicians ignore the will of the people anyway. Germans tend to be pessimistic. American-style optimism is seen as naive.
        Just take a look at this:
        According to a representative survey, 63% of Germans reject a delivery of arms to the Kurds. However, our government plans to do it anyway. Sigh. There is no hope.

        In my opinion the jews at MW fight more for the rights of the palestinians than all the german press together.
        The German press is not the German people. Western mainstream media, in general, don’t fight for the rights of Palestinians.
        For Jews, fighting for Palestinian rights is much easier because it’s harder to accuse them of anti-Semitism.

        What I find in this land…
        Where in Germany do you live?

  3. MHughes976 on August 19, 2014, 4:08 pm

    Those with a sense of closeness to those who were responsible for something evil – and we all have that in some degree – should indeed take care not to support new evils.

  4. Pixel on August 19, 2014, 4:11 pm

    drip, drip, drip…

    … the slow, steady sound of truth and justice droplets seeping through.

    • Kay24 on August 19, 2014, 4:16 pm

      Pixel, time it turned into a torrent, I am getting impatient!

      • MHughes976 on August 19, 2014, 4:25 pm

        Me too. Why are massive things not seen and obvious truths ignored?

      • Antidote on August 19, 2014, 9:00 pm

        “Why are massive things not seen and obvious truths ignored?”

        Because the world is full of despicable cowards, especially on the Left, such as the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in Germany. “Think Tank” — OMG

      • MHughes976 on August 20, 2014, 9:03 am

        In view of the report we have about ‘some members’ of the RLS coming out in support of Gaza, are things changing in Germany?
        A few months ago I was talking to an academic from Germany, living in England. She was saying how she couldn’t stand nationalism. I asked her view of Zionism – she replied that as a German she could not comment, at least not negatively, on anything Jewish. I replied, rather too quickly, ‘that’s inverse racism’, whereupon I got into a lot of trouble with English and American persons present. So I haven’t been expecting things in Germany, or indeed here in England, to change that quickly.

      • LeaNder on August 20, 2014, 10:47 am

        Antidote, not that it is important, but strictly it wasn’t only the left (Die Linke) but also the Green Party who disinvited Norman Finkelstein. Consider that the left, and thus the aligned Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, are still the political grubby kids over here–ok, maybe during the last election that changed slightly–that once were the now polite green party members a couple of decades ago. So there may be underlying political issues involved…

        On the other hand I am not aware of one group on the left over here that has not gone through heavy discussions concerning Israeli politics during the last decades.

        Never underestimate the fact that core memes are very, very effective for left members who were never politically involved in human rights but from my perspective related issues. And simply may have a different expertise that somewhat influences their perception.

        I write this since I deeply respect Jan van Aken and his earlier work (e.g. for the Sunshine Project ) before he wound up in the left party, but I can also see that he was among the left members that agitated against Finkelstein’s invitation. Should I judge him only on that?

        Maybe Aken, to pick out one of the anti-Finkelstein agitators familiar to me, looks at what he considers core troubles in a more systemic and structural way and Norman’s occasional agit prop language simply pushed the wrong buttons? I have no idea:

        German wikipedia: Finkelstein – Events (2 – sponsors The Green and the Left party foundations) cancellation, cites the following core argument against him:

        Supposedly he said in times when the EU working definition of antisemitism was still firmly in place the following:

        „I don’t believe there is another way. I wish there were another way. Who wants war? Who wants destruction? Even Hitler didn’t want war. He would much prefer to have accomplished his aims peacefully, if he could.“

        That being said, I am on your side that polite language not always mirrors my feelings. And I know as a fact that Norman did not mean what they claimed he meant with the cited statement. …

        But Israeal is not the only issue where agenda setting or manipulating people with a few core statements is very, very easy.

        No time to check spelling.

      • Bandolero on August 20, 2014, 1:43 pm

        The underlying reason why the Rosalux Stiftung disinvited Finkelstein is that the left party and the Rosalux Stiftung are dominated by ardent Zionists (Antideutsche …) like the left party in general is dominated by ardent Zionists in top positions (Gysi, Pau, Ramelow, Liebich…) supporting ultra-rightwing zionist basis groups (BAK Shalom etc), too. And these rightwing zionist supporters just hate Finkelstein, that’s the reason. The campaign run by zionist MSM against Finkelstein was just a pretext.

        The anti-imperialist left in the left party is clearly a minority in the Left party, the zionists in the left party (Mossad faction once they were called) are the majority even in the left, but the left party can’t get rid of the anti-imperialist minority cause they might fail on the 5% threshold due to that in next elections.

      • WeAreAllMadeOfStars on August 19, 2014, 5:29 pm

        Since this thread seems to be “international” or multilingual, you might find some hope in this French saying (about patience) “Les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières” which could be translated as “Small watercourses make big rivers”

    • Pixel on August 19, 2014, 4:17 pm

      to send some love…

      Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung: Gesellschaftsanalyse und politische Bildung e. V.
      Franz-Mehring-Platz 1
      10243 Berlin

      Phone: +49-(0)30-44310-0
      Fax: +49-(0)30-44310-230
      Email: [email protected]

  5. seafoid on August 19, 2014, 4:23 pm

    I went on a few marches with Clemens Messerschmid in 2000. He is a real Mensch.
    So sad they seem to have been exterminated in Israel.

  6. Sycamores on August 19, 2014, 4:33 pm

    great piece on RLS

    BY URI WELTMANN August 2014

    Netanyahu takes heat as events unfold

    The collapse of the talks between Israel and the PLO was followed by two developments, both of which were threatening to Netanyahu’s policy of continuing the occupation and delaying the possibility of a peaceful solution: the formation of the Palestinian National Consensus Government and the hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners. After reconciliation agreement was reached in April between the two leading Palestinian political parties, Fatah and Hamas, a new Palestinian government was formed, which enjoyed the backing of both the Fatah led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas-led government in Gaza. Israel announced it would not negotiate any peace deal with it and would push for punitive measures, but the new National Consensus Government was recognized by the international community, including the United States and the European Union. Netanyahu accused that «Abu Mazen said ‘yes’ to terrorism and ‘no’ to peace. This is a direct continuation of his policy of refusing peace. The Palestinian president responded that «Israel’s threatening messages show the real intentions of the occupation. We don’t want an escalation, but we cannot stand idly by. In the past, Netanyahu has made the claim that negotiations with Abu Mazen are futile, since he does not speak for the 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, who are under a Hamas government, but only for the 2.7 million Palestinians in the West Bank. Now, after the Palestinian National Consensus Government was formed, a new excuse was made: negotiations with Abu Mazen are once again futile, this time because Hamas is a terrorist organization and therefore is excluded from all possible talks! These rhetorical twists and turns help expose once more the rejectionist policies of the current Israeli government that is bent on junking the negotiations altogether, in order to maintain the occupation and prevent the possibility of an independent Palestinian state. The second development which was politically threatening to Netanyahu was the fact that Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launched a hunger strike on April 24th. In the beginning, the hunger strike was limited to the so-called «security detainees» or «administrative detainees» who are arrested without trial, in a manner which is in violation of international law. But it spread to other prisoners, drawing the attention of the world. Eventually, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, was forced to voice his concerns regarding the deteriorating health of the Palestinian administrative detainees. Confronted with these two developments, Netanyahu was facing political pressure as international public opinion was dissatisfied with his policies. Not only was he not willing to answer the plea of the prisoners,
    but he was taking the blame for the collapse of the peace talks and for his refusal to negotiate with the National Consensus Government. He badly needed an opportunity to turn the tables around.

    The kidnapping…………..

    • Citizen on August 20, 2014, 7:51 am

      Gee, according to the US cable TV shows, it all started when HAMAS kidnapped & murdered those 3 Israeli settler teens & HAMAS started firing rockets into Israel. And Israel has a right of self-defense. 100 US senators agreed and authorized Israel to take US replacement weapons and munitions, and Congress authorized more millions to Israel to maintain and upgrade Iron Dome.

  7. jayn0t on August 19, 2014, 10:37 pm

    “Germany – deliberately, by its actions and by its silence – turns itself into an accomplice in keeping the occupation functioning and running”. WWII German guilt is a major reason for this. The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation is saturated in it.

  8. eGuard on August 20, 2014, 6:54 am

    Germany is building submarines for Israel, for a reduced price, that can be loaded with nuclear arms. Next step, Israel can blackmail Germany by posting their own submarines in the North Sea.

    • lysias on August 20, 2014, 9:54 am

      If Germany has any sense, those submarines are built with secret switches or the like that allow the Germans to disable them when Germany wants.

  9. jon s on August 20, 2014, 7:07 am

    The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung also has an office here in Israel:

  10. Bandolero on August 20, 2014, 1:31 pm

    Here is a more powerful open letter from 90 German I/P experts, some of them from Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung and the same as in the letter above, but also many others, professors from universities, to the German government demanding:
    – stopp of weapons exports to Israel
    – liftung the blockade of Gaza
    – reimburse Israel for the damage done to infrastructure in Gaza paid for with German tax money
    – and more …

    Spiegel Online, the most popular “serious” German magazine reports on it’s website about that open letter (Huh, I never thought Spiegel Online would report on it and not spinning it all too negative):

    (Sorry, all in German)

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