The Israelis-in-Berlin Story

Palestinians protest in Berlin. Nakba Day, May 2017.

At least once a year, without fail, Middle Eastern news media run features on Israelis in Berlin. Whether the outlets are Arab or Israeli is immaterial. They both do it. There’s just something about the topic that won’t quit.

The reasons are obvious. Seven decades following the Holocaust, the idea of Jews returning to the country responsible for their near annihilation is fascinating. Obviously, it has universal significance. If Israelis and Germans can reconcile, so can everyone else.

It’s a charitable reading, certainly. But there are also less savoury explanations, that say more about the Mideast than they do about reconciliation. What the retelling of the story inevitably discounts is the Arab, albeit Palestinian version of the event. Why are there so many Palestinians living in Berlin?

That, by itself, is worth reporting on. Few cities in Europe can claim to have the same kind of visible Palestinian community as Berlin. The only analogy, in the West might be Dearborn, in Michigan. But that story is less compelling, given the German capital’s historic ties to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The following flyer translations help identify their presence, not as oriental, hummus-making Arab migrants, but as Palestinians, politically. Centred around Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization their national identity is perfectly foregrounded for foreign news media.Why the blinders?

Fatah Party for the Liberation of the Palestinian Homeland
Berlin Chapter — Germany Region
You are invited to attend a ceremony that commemorates the tenth anniversary of the martyrdom of our brother and leader Yasser Arafat Abu Omar, and in honour of the righteous martyrs of Palestine in the presence of a member of the Fatah Central Committee, Brother Doctor Muhammad Ashtayhu, and the Palestinian Ambassador to the United Republic of Germany, Sister Doctor Khaloud Daibes.
The event will be on Saturday November 15th, 2014, from 6 PM.

Palestine: A Pact, Division, and Loyalty

With the participation of Brother Doctor Ahmad Tibi, president of the Arab Party for Change and the former political advisor to Yasser Arafat.

And brother Fadwa Al-Barghouti, member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, brother of captive leader Marwan Al-Barghouti, member of the Fatah Central Committee.

And sponsored by Brother Salah Abdulshafi, Palestinian Ambassador to Germany.

And with the honour of Palestinian Unions in Berlin, including the Palestinian Students Union (Brandenburg), the Palestinian Engineers Union (Brandenburg), and the Palestinian Union for Doctors and Pharmacists (Brandenburg).

Attend without hesitation on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, that also marks the seventh year since the martyrdom of Brother Al-Qa’id Abu Omar.

Translations from the Arabic by Bilal Ahmed. Photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.