Log into your member account to listen to this article. Not a member? Join the herd.

‘Every life is sacred! Every life is sacrosanct! I am speaking for the people who cannot speak for themselves. A society that cannot listen to the truth is a sick society.’ 

Those were some of the words that activist Julius Kamau shouted at the cameras as he was being pulled and shoved in all directions by aggressive Kenyan police officers. Kamau was arrested and crammed into a police van for taking part in a peaceful protest in front of the German Embassy in Nairobi called by Kenyans for Palestine. The protest, dubbed ‘Strike Germany, Free Palestine’, was called for Thursday 25 January 2024 to express anger at Germany’s blind support of the Zionist entity in the ongoing genocidal war against the Palestinian people. Germany had also announced its intention to defend the Zionist entity at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) even before the court made its ruling on 26 January. 

‘Kenyans for Palestine’ – a grassroots organisation and one of the organisers of the protest together with Cheche Bookstore and Kenya na Palestine – had notified the police station under whose jurisdiction the venue of the protest falls ten days prior to the planned action as required by law. Accompanied by lawyers, the organisers had navigated the bureaucratic maze created by the police in a bid to frustrate them into giving up, and had posted on social media copies of letters signed as received by Nairobi’s Regional Commander and the Inspector General. Yet their peaceful protest was met with police violence.

This is not the first time protesters have had their constitutional rights violated by the police. Pro-Palestinian protests in Nairobi have been systemically silenced, and the organisers illegally arrested in an attempt to intimidate them. Despite the legally baseless ‘procedures’ created by the authorities, the organisers made sure to create visibility in anticipation of a violent police crackdown and the inevitable framing that it was an ‘unauthorised protest’. 

The small group of protesters – between 20 and 25 individuals of different nationalities, ages and walks of life – had barely moved a hundred metres from the assembly point at Riverside Square towards the embassy when it came under a hail of tear gas canisters from Kenyan police who were accompanied by the diplomatic police division and plain-clothes officers who physically attacked the harmless protestors. Having been notified of the planned protests, the German embassy had announced that it would close its doors to the public at 11 a.m. on that day. 

So what was really behind this violent assault of a small group of civilian protestors?

To answer this question, one has to look beyond the Kenyan context and examine Germany’s role as a direct collaborator in the ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people. Germans use the Holocaust to justify their blind support to the colonial Zionist entity, which reflects both complete ignorance and a deeply entrenched white colonial mindset. This is because the Zionist project would not be entrenched in native Palestinian land today without the support and collaboration of the mainly European powers that, apart from other Zionist imperial supporters like the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, were also key players in enabling the genocide of the Jews in Europe.

Germany’s colonial history predates the Holocaust and began in Palestinian lands with then colonising German Templars in 1869, followed by the multiple genocides they committed in different parts of Africa, the case of Namibia being the most infamous. This characteristic persisted up to the fascist Third Reich and the genocide in Europe against Jews, gays, Arabs, political prisoners and other ‘non-Aryan’ groups and continued with Germany’s collaboration with Zionist settler colonialism and the Nakba in 1948, a historical through-line of unflinching support to the Zionist entity to the present day.

German support of the Zionist entity is rooted in what writers such as Dirk Moses call ‘German Catechism”, that is, a view of the Holocaust as the ultimate genocide to which no other genocide compares, a belief perpetuated by a hollow education system which, based on this concept, focuses mainly on the Holocaust and the Third Reich. Many Germans, like most Europeans, don’t even know that their privileged lives are built on the exploitation and annihilation of African nations. In fact, it was only in 2021 that Germany apologised for the genocide it committed against the Herero and Nama people of Namibia, and it has never paid any reparations to the victims’ descendants.

In his book, “Germany and Israel: White Washing and State Building”, Daniel Marwecki observes that pure economic interests are there as well. After World War II, Konrad Adenauer – a known Nazi and proud of it – sat down and shook hands with Ben Gurion, the founder of the Zionist entity. They hated each yet they needed each other. For Adenauer, to get other Western imperial powers to recognise and “forgive” West Germany and politically support him would be a win. For Ben Gurion the objective was to obtain supplies and injections of cash into the Zionist project that was struggling to get financing for its kibbutzim and settlers. West Germany showered the Zionists with agricultural tools, weapons and cash. In other words, Germans got the Zionist entity off its feet and helped build its foundations.

Marwecki quotes Adenauer as stating more than once that “Israel is the fortress of the West”. He also painted Germans as being victims of the Third Reich, stating, “The fate of the Jews is somewhat similar to ours. We also suffered the loss of a whole layer in German society.” Ben Gurion’s stated view was that “Germany of today is not Germany of yesterday”. Germany’s financial support to the Zionist entity was code-named “Operation Business Friend”. Adenauer and Ben Gurion smiled, shook hands and agreed on the loan package in New York in 1960. A win-win.

Fast-forward to Merkel’s era; she is famously quoted as stating that “Israel’s security is Germany’s reason of state”. This has been repeated by Scholz and almost every other German politician. It is within this context that Germany decided that it is its duty to defend a genocidal fascist “state” before the ICJ. 

The thing about German catechism and its position vis-à-vis the Zionist entity is that it is even more apparent today than at any other time in recent history. Since 7 October 2023, Germany’s active silencing of Palestinians and their supporters in the country has reached new levels. Not only is it apparent on the streets, during protests and demonstrations, but it has affected every aspect of people’s lives, including cultural creators and cultural spaces. As a result of the increased repression, an online campaign named “Strike Germany” was launched by a group of cultural workers and creators calling on their peers within and outside Germany to boycott German cultural institutions, spaces and the related government funding. The campaign also demands respect for freedom of expression and calls for workers to demand of such institutions that they show solidarity with Palestine and fight racism in all its forms, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Since the campaign was launched online in early January 2024, more than 1,000 international cultural creators have joined the call to boycott Germany. 

Back in Nairobi, for Mr Sebastian Groth, the German Ambassador to Kenya, Somalia and the Seychelles, it was the title of the protest – “Strike Germany” – that apparently prompted his decision to close the embassy early to “protect our people”, as he put it. Kenyans for Palestine issued a statement following the violence meted out against the protestors on Riverside Drive and followed it up with a letter to the German ambassador to express its clear condemnation of Germany’s history and position in the lead-up to the 25 January events. Following receipt of the letter, the ambassador declared his intention to visit Cheche bookstore on Tuesday 6 February during which visit three Kenyans for Palestine activists confronted him. 

During the confrontation, which was videotaped but cannot be shared due to lack of prior consent from the ambassador, he opens his reflections on the letter by stating, “I found the title of the demonstration very aggressive. And that’s a language that I don’t accept because ‘Strike Germany’ basically means in a computer game, push it hard, or destroy it, or whatever. I think this is a way that is not good for opening up the conversation about politics, about positioning. I think as an embassy, or also as a German government, we respect any opinion (…) especially when it comes to Israel, due to our history” (direct quotes from the video transcript).

There follows 13 full minutes of gaslighting that denies the active silencing of Palestinian voices by the German government and deflects from the fact that the state he represents has cut funding to UNRWA, the largest UN organisation responsible for feeding the besieged people of Gaza at a time when they are starving. The ambassador demonstrated frank racism, thrice referring to opposing views as “fundamentalist”. To the activists in the room, the ambassador’s reaction was very predictable. In fact, the whole interaction was well in line with how Germany and its highest-ranking representatives abroad address the blind support to the Zionist entity. It must also be mentioned here that Germany is a major donor to Kenya’s police service that has been thoroughly documented as violent, corrupt and unjust towards Kenyans. 

The city of Nairobi is twice the size of the whole of the Gaza Strip, which has been under a blockade for the last 18 years and under a complete siege for more than four months now. According to statistics released by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, more than 38,000 Palestinians have been killed in besieged Gaza alone, including more than 14,000 children and 130 journalists. Further, two million people have been forcefully displaced, of whom around 1.3 million are currently crammed into Rafah, the last remaining viable space in the south of the strip. 

Over the past few weeks, the colonial Zionist entity has been relentlessly bombing all parts of the besieged strip and is threatening a deadly ground invasion on Rafah, the most densely populated spot on earth. On the other side of besieged Gaza, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have refused to leave their homes in the northern parts are facing extreme starvation that is created by the Zionists’ refusal to allow entry of humanitarian aid into the strip.

This is not about one protest in Nairobi that was violently prevented from taking place. This is about a live-streamed ongoing genocide that the world has been watching for the past six months against a population that has been occupied, besieged and under the constant threat of the colonial Zionist killing enterprise for the past 76 years. This is about the bloodthirsty capitalist Western colonial powers and their collaborating regimes that have continued to implement their oppressive agendas through the antiquated concept of imposing a settler colony on indigenous Palestinian soil. These are the same powers that are behind the gruesome crimes and ongoing forced displacement of the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). 

The Palestinian struggle for liberation is an intersectional one. Ignoring it leads to mass harm, while supporting it means fighting all forms of systemic oppression in the 21st century. The time has come for the free people of the world to unite against oppressive powers, and call a strike, not just against Germany, but against them all.