Not everyone is allowed to have a ‘Good Life in Germany’

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Since a video went viral yesterday showing the German Chancellor Angela Merkel getting questioned from school kids as part of the government’s programme “Gut Leben in Deutschland” (Good Life in Germany), the brutality and hardship of European migration policy became a little more visible by what one of these kids had so say.

The PR-disaster was caused by Reem, a Palestinian girl who fled a refugee camp in Lebanon with her family four years ago and now faces deportation.

She told Merkel in fluent German: “As long as I don’t know how long I can stay here, I don’t know what my future will be. I really want to study in Germany. It is really unpleasant to look on how others can really enjoy life while oneself can’t enjoy it with them.” Whereas Merkel replied: “I understand, however, I have to… politics is sometimes hard. You’re a very nice person but you know that there are thousands and thousands of people in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and if I say ‘you can all come,’ (…) we just can’t manage that.”

After she continued defending the government’s asylum policy, Reem burst into tears and got stroked by Merkel, what has gone viral on Twitter as #merkelstreichelt (Merkel strokes) and her apparent lack of empathy got slammed and criticized since.

Reem’s family had only been granted temporary right of asylum and since Lebanon is not regarded a country at civil war by German authorities, it is lawful to deport them back.

Unfortunately, the entire German news coverage is leaving out the fact that this refugee camp Reem is supposed to be sent back to is not her home. At least some newspapers think it is worth mentioning that she is originally Palestinian. And her story is one out of 1.5 million (and that is only one-third of registered refugees according to UNRWA statistics) stories of Palestinians who have been displaced and are currently living in refugee camps all over Jordan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as Syria, partially under degrading and cruel conditions. Conditions Ms. Merkel can – judging from her reaction – not even imagine.

But no matter how much one can criticize Merkel’s behaviour, it is nevertheless an honest one.

The scene reflects a perfect microcosm of Germany’s rigid migration policy and the Ivory tower European leadership is talking down from. Reem is, as was pointed out, just one of thousands and thousands of refugees and one of millions of displaced Palestinians – an issue the German government fails to deal with since it conflicts with the Chancellor’s raison d’état.

It might not only be time to rethink German asylum policy, but also to take the country’s gridlocked position on foreign affairs into reconsideration which contributes to the situation people find themselves in.

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What Merkel also fails to consider is that her government is providing Israel with the weapons to keep Reem and her family in the refugee camps and kill them PRN, for Israel’s propaganda/victimhood purposes. I hope that Karma is a cruel as Merkel explains politics to be. And I keep coming back to the scene in the movie “Contact” where this situation is [not so] fictionalized. One character gives the Merkel desiderata explanation, and the… Read more »

Good article, Rebecca; and good point, Ritzl. This is a perfect opportunity…for an opportunistic German leader, to broaden the context, to include Israel’s responsibility.

Churchill said “The Germans are either at your feet or at your throat.”
They seem bereft of wisdom as a collective agent, eh?

Very touching. A few weeks ago, CNN broadcast Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Return to Beirut episode, Bourdain listened to a Palestinian english teacher who had fled Syria during the civil war. The Palestinian was unable to work in Lebanon and unable to leave the refugee camp in Beirut lest he be “collected and thrown back to Syria.” The Palestinian explained, “We have no area in the world. We have no place in this universe. We… Read more »

Gee, if only those stateless Palestinians had their own country…

Oh, wait, they did.