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German State Wants to Ban Calls for Equality from the River to the Sea

“From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” is a common phrase found at pro-Palestine demonstrations worldwide. Palestinian activists and their supporters have time and again explained what the phrase means: equal rights for all living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It is a call for the decolonization of all of historic Palestine, not just bits and parts of it, away from the failed two-state solution projects in call for one democratic state. 

Since its founding, the Zonist state has been built on ethnic cleansing, racialized hierarchies, land theft and mechanisms of apartheid. Hence as ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians and Zionist ethnonationalism are sewn into the very fabric of the Israeli state as such, it cannot be reformed but has to be dismantled and crushed for all people living between “the River and the Sea” to have equal rights. 

Calls for equality and equal rights seem to be something the German state refuses to align itself with. 

Last week, the German Ministry for Interior declared that the statement “From the River to the Sea” is a “motto of Hamas”. The slogan could be heavily criminalized in the future in all of Germany and be punished on the same level as saying Nazi phrases or showing a Swastika. If prosecuted, it could be seen as a call to hatred (Volksverhetzung) and a call to violence.

In the state of Bavaria this is now already the case

In the statement banning Palestinian prisoner network Samidoun as well Hamas, the German ministry of interior lists slogans and logos by Hamas, amongst them “From the River to the Sea”. 

The public prosecutor in Munich has taken the listing of the slogan in the statement on the federal ban of Hamas to declare that the slogan “From the River to the Sea” will be prosecuted as the use of propaganda materials from banned organizations, prosecuted under Section 86a of the Criminal Code. This criminal liability, which previously applied to SS slogans such as “Our honor means loyalty,” now also applies to “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” 

This is a further blow to free speech in Germany, as Palestinian organizations are banned and calls by indigenous Palestinian people, who being ethnically cleansed for over 75 years,  for equality and freedom are classified as punishable in the same manner as Nazi calls for genocide. This is just a further step in the ongoing criminalization of the solidarity movement with Palestine in Germany. 

Once and again it must be stated that all parties in the German parliament opened the doors for this kind of criminalization to take place. It was the reformist Leftist party (DIE LINKE) which voted together with the Greens (Grüne), Social Democrats (SPD), Liberals (FDP), Christian Conservatives (CDU) and the fascistoid Right (AfD) on banning the Leftist prisoner network Samidoun as well as Hamas. 

For a longer time many revolutionaries in Germany had hopes in building up the parliamentary DIE LINKE. It seems that with the vote in parliament on the 12th of October where DIE LINKE sided with the AfD and the establishment of the German bourgeoisie in banning a leftist Palestinian organization (Samidoun), the last hopes in DIE LINKE should have disappeared.