EIt didn't even take an hour before the police had to interrupt the event for the first time. The Palestinian author Salman Abu Sitta had just described the situation in Gaza as historically unique and explicitly compared it with the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda. A short time later, the live stream of the “Palestine Congress” went offline. It was recently unclear whether the event would be canceled completely.

Criticism of Congress across party lines

This anti-Israel event began on Friday in Berlin under the motto “We accuse”. Speakers critical of Israel are scheduled to give lectures until Sunday. Around 850 listeners came, according to the police. They want to work for an “end to Zionist settler colonialism and its apartheid policy,” said a spokeswoman for the “Congress” in a press statement on Instagram on Friday before the start.

Israel is a “fascist colonialist,” said the first speaker, Hebh Jamal, a Palestinian journalist. Since October 7th it has shown its true face, that of fascism. She described Germany as a “police state” in which one cannot speak freely. The state and the police wanted to silence her so that she would submit, said Jamal.

900 police officers

The “congress” had already triggered criticism in advance. “Anyone who spreads Islamist propaganda and hatred against Jews must know that they will be prosecuted quickly and consistently,” said Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) on Friday. Federal politicians, foundations, youth organizations of parties and the Central Council of Jews had called for opposition to the event in an “alliance against anti-Semitic terror”.

The governing mayor of Berlin, Kai Wegner (CDU), found it “unbearable that a so-called Palestine Congress would take place in Berlin” on Platform X. He announced consistent police intervention in criminal acts. As with a demonstration, this had imposed conditions such as calls for violence against Israel were prohibited. When they were apparently injured, the officers intervened.

Groups belonging to the anti-Israel BDS spectrum had been mobilizing for the event for weeks. The organizers had previously called for a “campaign of boycotts, divestments and sanctions against the Israeli state”. Germany is complicit in the “genocide against the Palestinians” because of its Israel policy.

The police were on duty on Friday with around 900 officers. A spokeswoman said that 900 police officers would be deployed again on Saturday and 700 on Sunday. The Berliners would be supported by colleagues from North Rhine-Westphalia, Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Hamburg. The main aim is to protect “the gathering situation in closed spaces”. The spokeswoman said they were only informed about the venue, Germaniastrasse 18 in Berlin, on Friday morning. The organizers wanted to keep a counter-protest as small as possible.

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was also scheduled to speak there, as he attested that Germany was “complicit in the genocide of the Palestinians” on Platform