„Genocide is forbidden,“ I tell the guy next to me who is frowning while I criss-cross over my banner. The criss-crossing is quite in vain because the ordinary pen that I found in my backpack does not cover over the marker with which I wrote my slogan onto the brown cardboard:
GERMAN POLITICIANS AND MEDIA,
WE SEE YOU!
YOU SUPPORT GENOCIDE
AND YOU DEFAME AND FIGHT AGAINST US ALL
TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR „GOOD“ IDENTITY
I am not quite happy with the ending. It should be more catchy. What I mean is this: By defaming us through and through – as terrorists, as antisemites, as stupid, ridiculous or dangerous – and by making all of our lives harder, they manage their selfhood. They maintain for themselves their lie about how they are more elevated, intelligent and moral than the rest of the world. If they didn’t have us to pick at, they wouldn’t have anything to say at all.
If I use the banner again, I will need to think about how to re-write that. For now I am busy with a different worry.
„I mean, the word is forbidden,“ I clarify. „You don’t happen to have a marker on you, do you?“ I ask. He shakes his head but turns around to ask the people behind us, while explaining my situation. Somebody donates four band-aids. What a pity to waste those perfect band-aids, I think, but for lack of better options I gratefully accept. I tape them over the word GENOCIDE in the shape of an x.
I go to Palestine protests whenever I can. I go because – together with all those other people rising all over the world I want to stop Israel’s aggression against Gaza. I also go because, despite the fear of repression, I can breathe deeply in the midst of the protests. I feel a sort of shared humanness, I feel shared anger and hope. I go because I need to have real people around me who make it clear that they are not impressed by all the Zionist propaganda from the Right to the Left, from the Springer Press to the taz to Die Zeit to the public media. In other words. I don’t only go for the people in Gaza, I also go for myself. We are all connected.
In the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 the participating states commit to preventing genocide. The convention further defines genocide as „any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
A, b and c all apply to Gaza, and leading representatives of the Israeli government speak openly about their intention to destroy. For further discussions of international law I refer to Craig Mokhibers departure letter from his position as director of the New York Office of the UN Hugh Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as “A textbook case of genocide” by Raz Segal, professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies. I in the mean time am back at the protest.
Last week and the week before last we chanted STOP THE GENOCIDE from the top of our lungs. But as I join the protest today two friendly organizers approach me and inform me that the police forbade some words and phrases. Genocide is among them. I am a little saddened and unsure how to deal with this unexpected problem with my banner. “It‘s good to see you here though!“ they try to cheer me up. „Thanks. And thank you for organizing this!“ I reply. Then I think about what to do next.
My reason to be here is not dependent on any single word. I don‘t want trouble unless it is absolutely necessary. I guess I will cross out GENOCIDE and write APARTHEID and COLONIALISM over it. Those are all connected anyways.
I refer to one of the organizers one more time to make sure. She hands me a printed-out sheet and tells me I better check for myself what the restrictions are. I read: No reference to the Holocaust whatsoever. No reference to Anne Frank. No „From the River to the Sea“ whatsoever. The list goes on, but neither apartheid nor colonialism are on it. „It‘s not forbidden,“ I tell the organizer as I hand back her sheet. „Express yourself!“ she congratulates me and raises the megaphone to her mouth. For the billionth time she calls: CEASEFIRE NOW! We reply: CEASEFIRE NOW!
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