German politicians and media support Israel’s genocidal crackdown on Palestinians

The Socialist Equality Party (SGP) and the World Socialist Web Site strongly condemn the support of the German government, opposition parties and media for the Israeli government’s onslaught against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

Annalena Baerbock in Luxemburg on April 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Germany’s ruling class, responsible for the worst crimes in human history, is enthusiastically supporting the genocidal crackdown by the far-right Netanyahu regime and the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, it is massively attacking basic democratic rights by criminalising peaceful protests in solidarity with the Palestinians—on the slanderous basis that the participants are “terrorists” and “anti-Semites.”

The campaign was initiated by the leadership of the German government and is promoted by all parliamentary parties and the bourgeois media. In an official statement, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (Social Democrats, SPD) described the Palestinian uprising which began this weekend, in which Israeli civilians were killed and taken hostage, as “barbaric.” The acts were “outrageous, and they can be justified by nothing, absolutely nothing.”

In a phone call on Sunday, he assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Germany was “firmly and inviolably on Israel’s side ... The security of Israel is a German raison d’tat. This is especially true in difficult times like these. We will act accordingly.”

Green Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement from the Federal Foreign Office: “Hamas’s heinous violence against civilians in Israel is unprecedented and unjustifiable for any reason. This terror must be stopped immediately. Israel has our full solidarity.”

The opposition parties—from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) to the Left Party—are expressing similar views. The “left” vice president of the Bundestag (federal parliament), Petra Pau, together with opposition leader Friedrich Merz and the right-wing mayor of Berlin, Kai Wegener (both Christian Democratic Union), took part in an official solidarity rally at the Brandenburg Gate, which fully supported Israel’s actions. 

A resolution passed on Sunday at the state congress of the Bremen Left Party also explicitly expressed solidarity with the Israeli war offensive. It remains “to be hoped that Israel will soon succeed in defeating Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), freeing the kidnapped and restoring security without other hostile terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah also launching further coordinated attacks on Israel.”

Such de facto calls for retaliation are in line with the calls of the extreme right. For its part, the AfD parliamentary group condemned the “terrorist attacks” by the Palestinians in a statement and assured Israel of “our full solidarity.” This applies “to all measures that help end the attack quickly and can hold the attackers accountable.”

Hardly anything could make the reactionary character of the war campaign clearer than the fact that it is supported by the AfD—a party whose leaders openly glorify the Nazi Wehrmacht and whip up opposition to the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. All the denunciations of the Palestinians as “terrorists” cannot hide the fact that this is an uprising of the oppressed and that the actions of the oppressors—the Zionist state and its imperialist backers—have a decidedly fascist character. 

Amid massive airstrikes that left hundreds dead, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered the complete sealing off of Gaza on Monday: “There will be no electricity, food or fuel. We are fighting against human animals, and we will act accordingly.”

This is reminiscent of the rhetoric and methods used by the Nazis in occupied Poland in World War II to crush the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 and the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, razing entire districts to the ground and murdering tens of thousands.

To put it bluntly, when the entire ruling class in Germany stands behind Netanyahu’s scorched earth policy and even supports the blockade of the Gaza Strip by ending all financial and economic support for the Palestinians, it is reviving its own criminal traditions. 

With regard to the brutal suppression of uprisings and the commission of terrible war crimes, including genocide, no one can beat the German imperialists. Even before the Nazi mass murder, they organized the genocide of the Herero and Nama in present-day Namibia. And during World War I, German troops committed war crimes such as the destruction of Louvain and the massacre of Dinant, in which 674 civilians were killed and about 1,300 of the 1,800 houses of the Belgian city were destroyed. 

In order to intimidate any criticism of the brutal actions of Israel and the imperialist powers, the media, as always, raise the accusation of “antisemitism.” This is cynical and mendacious in several ways. First, the claim that the Zionist regime’s terror against Palestinian civilians is in the name of Judaism itself comes from the arsenal of antisemitism, as it collectively associates all Jews with the criminal policies of the Israeli government.

In addition, it is not the oppressed Palestinians and the hundreds of millions worldwide who stand in solidarity with them who promote anti-Semitism, but the imperialist governments and, above all, the ruling class in Germany. It is not only building a fascist party in Germany with the AfD, but is also allying with fascist and anti-Semitic forces throughout Europe in order to pursue its political goals. 

The NATO war against Russia in Ukraine in particular shows how far this process has progressed. Already during the anti-Russian coup in Kiev in 2014, the then German Foreign Minister and current Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) received the chairman of the fascist Svoboda party and notorious antisemite Oleh Tyahnybok in the German embassy in Kiev. Since then, Berlin and NATO have been arming a regime that celebrates Nazi collaborators like Stepan Bandera and openly mobilizes fascist army units like the Azov Battalion. 

None of this is an oversight—78 years after the end of the Third Reich, the ruling class is systematically working to rehabilitate the Nazis. As recently as the end of September, the German ambassador to Canada, Sabine Sparwasser, participated in the standing ovation for the Waffen-SS veteran and Nazi war criminal Yaroslav Hunka in the Canadian Parliament. The far-right Humboldt University Professor Jörg Baberowski, who already described Hitler as “not vicious” in 2014 in Der Spiegel, still teaches in the heart of Berlin and is defended by all parties in the Bundestag.

The inflammatory articles in the media denouncing any opposition to Israel as “antisemitic” were themselves dripping with racism and fascism. For example, the Handelsblatt demanded in a commentary that the German government must “react harshly to antisemitism” and “relentlessly put the enemies of Israel in Germany in their place.” This includes expulsions of foreigners who spread “hate,” i.e., criticize Israel, and a “ban on antisemitic and anti-Israel celebrations,” meaning demonstrations against Israel’s war policy.

The reaction by the politicians and the media is a serious political warning. In order to assert its reactionary interests at home and abroad, the ruling class in Germany is once again relying on war, dictatorship and fascism. At the same time, behind the aggressive campaign and the hysterical shouting lies the fear of the explosion of the international class struggle.

“The uprising in Palestine is itself part of a developing eruption of anger and opposition in the form of mass strikes and protests throughout the world,” the International Committee of the Fourth International explains in its statement on the Netanyahu’s government’s declaration of war on the Palestinian people. “It is this social movement, guided by a consciously socialist and revolutionary program and perspective, that must be mobilized to put an end to imperialist war, inequality and all forms of oppression.”