Next month, Just World Books will publish Lillian Rosengarten’s wrenching memoir, Survival and Conscience, which traces the legacy of the Holocaust inside her immigrant family leading up to her decision to go to Gaza on the Jewish boat three years ago. She is now touring her birthplace, Germany, to talk about her book. The Jerusalem Post has covered the tour, and stated that it is anti-Semitic to accuse Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “racism” and “apartheid.” Rosengarten sent this report earlier this week. –Editor.
I have given three talks in Germany so far and the whole experience is fascinating if not surreal. The first was in Darmstadt. My appearance to speak at an Episcopalian church was cancelled because the folks there googled me and decided I was an anti-Semitic Jew (imagine that) because they believed I, as an anti-Zionist was against a Jewish state of Israel and therefore I was also an anti-Semite. I ended up speaking in an old theater attended by about 60 people. “A Jew Against Zionism.” The audiences are fascinated. Although they are German-Palestinian activists, some fear that to break the silence against Israeli human rights abuses will be labeled anti-Semitic as the Zionists spin their propaganda. The German Jewish population here are strong Zionists and support a Jewish only State of Israel. To hear a German-born Jew against Zionism is a unique experience for them.
I tell my very personal story (yes in German) and have a straightforward message. Speaking out against human rights abuses is not anti-Semitic as the Zionists want people to believe. Ending the occupation must happen and can only occur from an outside strong push and resistance by the United Nations, European Union, United States (hopefully), churches and BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions). Palestinians and Jews must live together with equal rights in a Palestine/Israel state. There can be no Jewish State only. There is no other way. It will not change from inside as Israel is satisfied only to have a Jewish state.
With these statements and my tale of woe from voiceless to strong voice for peace and justice for Palestinians, I end by saying no peace for Israel is possible until Palestinians are free.
Two Jews demonstrated ahead of time against my talk Sunday night saying I am an anti-Semite. Yes, it is Jew against Jew.
It is fascinating for me to observe the shift in the audience, the willingness to confront their fear of the label anti-Semite, as I show in my story my lack of fear in my refusal to accept such a label and to say “No, I am NOT an anti-Semite,” when I stand up for an end to the sordid occupation and suppression of Palestinian human rights.
Many people have come up to me to thank me for showing my willingness to resist without fear. Fear is a big factor in Germany, for those who speak out are quickly labeled ant-Semites or Nazis. The German Jewish Community are the most radical Zionists. Yesterday a prominent Jewish doctor wrote to the museum where I spoke today to tell them it is a disgrace to allow a person to speak who is clearly an ant-Semite. These folks do not come to hear me, although I would welcome a dialogue.
Quite amazing there is a fairly long article about my talk, from a very positive perspective in the Heidelberg Sunday newspaper. This is a surprise. In addition I will be videotaped for the second time and seem to be having an effect because my talk is so personal.