Palestinian Berlin

Palestinian delivery van. Berlin, 2014.

“I don’t like Palestinians,” the guy making my döner said. “They’re too conservative.” Considering how much the Turkish government has championed their cause in recent years, the statement came as a surprise. That is, if you believe that every Turk ought to think like Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Not in Berlin. Few immigrant communities in Germany’s capital  city are as candid about their dislike of their ancestral country’s leadership. Even the local Syrians, well-known for their opposition to Bashar al-Assad, are not quite as outspoken.

The antipathy is barely discernible, though. At least on Karl-Marx-Straße, where Palestinian-owned businesses exist side by side with Turkish ones, and restaurants offer Turkish-influenced takes on traditional Middle Eastern cuisine. Yogurt with your shawarma? Lahmajun and za’atar? The mixing displays an obvious sense of hierarchy, of a newer immigrant community adapting to a more established one. There’s a conciliatory sensibility to it, that’s both respectful, and of course pragmatic. The hybrid culture that emerges is of course fascinating for the informed – and delicious.

Less surprising, though, are the political signs of Palestinian presence here. A flag painted on a delivery van (see the photo, above) or a flyer for a local Fatah meeting (the photograph below) attest to the existence of a politicized émigré community that is clear about its point of origin. As the advertising states, they are Palestinians, despite what they might have in common with other local immigrants.  Nothing could be more explicit than these visuals. Note the map of historic Palestine in its entirety, in the flyer – a single state, not a division between Muslim and Jewish areas.

Critics of the Palestinians might very well look at such an image as further proof that Fatah ultimately favors a one state solution. That may very well be true, especially considering how many persons who support the two state idea do so only as a compromise. Such positioning, however, does little to mitigate the fact that today’s Palestinians trace their roots back to the entirety of historic Palestine. Not just refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon. Or Berlin, for that matter.  Bilal Ahmed’s translation follows.


Fatah meeting flyer. Neukölln, December 2013.
Fatah meeting flyer. Neukölln, December 2013.


The 49th Launch

The German Chapter of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement “Fatah” invites you to attend a festival marking the occasion of the 49th anniversary of the launching of the ongoing Palestinian revolution in the presence of a member of the Central Committee of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, Sister Amal Humd, and H.E. the Palestinian Ambassador to Germany, Sister Dr. Khalud Da’eebs.

Saturday the 11th of January 2014 at 6:00 PM, at the AWA Festival (directional information from here.)


Arabic translation by Bilal Ahmed. Introduction and photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.

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