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German authorities arrest Jewish activist over pro-Palestinian demos

Udi Raz, anti Zionism activist speaks at a protest against the Israeli regime. (Photo by World Socialist Website)

German authorities have arrested Jewish activist Udi Raz for organizing pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the country. 

The Berlin resident lost his job after he was labeled an antisemitic by German authorities for calling Israel an "apartheid state."

“I migrated here with a promise that I can live my life in a progressive, democratic, liberal state. Since the 7th of October all the masks have fallen. It is clear when we talk about Germany, we cannot anymore talk about democracy," said Udi Raz, a 34-year-old anti-Zionism Israel-born activist in an online video.

Raz was fired from his position as a tour guide at the Jewish Museum in Berlin when he referred to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank as “apartheid”.

Raz who grew up in Haifa felt a severe apartheid setup knitted around him. The inferior treatment given to Palestinians made him uneasy forcing him to migrate to Germany.

He thought Germany was a free country that believed in equality but as time passed his beliefs came crashing down.

“Germany is promoting only those Jews who are willing to produce anti-Muslim discourse. Jews who do not perceive Muslims as such are being marked as a threat not just to the German nation but to Jews themselves,” the Middle East Eye quoted saying Raz.

Raz has been a leading Jewish peace activist in Berlin. His group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East which speaks against various forms of injustice including the Zionist regime's suppression of the Palestinians has been labeled anti-Semitic by the German government.

“Our bank account was suspended by our bank. Sparkasse. This comes after a long history of sanctions, divestments against us, one of the largest Jewish organizations in Germany,” Raz said.

“Demonstrations we have registered were banned, our members were detained and interrogated by the German police. Unlike the leadership of Hamas, the government of Germany does not differentiate between Zionism and Judaism.”

German authorities arrested Raz last week after canceling and banning the group’s three-day conference on Palestine. 

The conference was set to host leading British-Palestinian surgeon Ghassan Abu-Sittah. The Berlin police canceled it within its first two hours on Friday.

The German government detained and deported Abu Sittah who was to speak about his work and post-October 7 experience in war-torn Gaza.

Abu Sittah took to X on Friday, saying that he was being held at a Berlin airport and would not be able to attend the conference, to which he was invited to speak “about my work in Gaza hospitals.”

Abu Sittah who was interrogated by the German police at the airport for more than three hours was told that if he tried to attend the conference virtually or send a video message to be played for the audience he could face up to a year in prison.

Since the start of Israel’s war on Gaza, German authorities have been clamping down on the Palestine solidarity movements across the country. The conference was the latest instance of Germany making it explicitly clear that it stands on the side of genocide perpetrated by Tel Aviv.

Raz said that the Berlin Senate was trying for several weeks to stop the Palestinian Congress from conducting its program and one of the measures used was freezing the organization's bank accounts.

“We want everyone to be treated equally, we want human rights and international law to be respected. That makes the German state very uncomfortable, they are OK with the apartheid regime and its genocidal crimes,” the Jewish activist said.

Questioning the authority of Israel, Raz said, “Israel speaks in the name of Zionist Jews, in the name of racist Jews. Israel is not Judaism. When we talk about free Palestine from Zionism, we also talk about free Judaism from Zionism.”

Raz’s organization has been campaigning against the occupying regime's crimes, calling for an end to hostilities in Gaza and demanding that the German government suspend diplomatic, economic and military support to Israel.

However, Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East is not the only group that has been targeted by the German government in its relentless support for the Israeli regime.

Since Israel launched its deadly assault on Gaza,  people speaking for Palestine have been deemed anti-Semitic by Germany.  

Yuval Abraham, an Israeli was called an anti-Semite – for criticizing Germany in suppressing any criticism of Israel's war in Gaza.

Last week Germany canceled Jewish American philosopher, Nancy Fraser’s planned visiting professorship after learning she signed a pro-Palestine letter.

“I think of this as a fever that’s gripping Germany and to a lesser extent, Austria. It is a very harmful thing. I also think that it’s so important that Germans understand something of the complexity and breadth of Judaism, its history, its perspective. They are sort of signing on with this idea of an unconditional pledge of allegiance to Israel, that that’s the German responsibility — unqualified support for the state of Israel, Fraser said in an interview with Jacobin.

“Given what Israel is currently up to, this is a betrayal of what I would call the most important and weighty aspects of Judaism as a history, a perspective, and a body of thought,” the academic added. 

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