***image1***German solidarity groups and members of the peace movement marked the occasion of the anniversary of the West Bank and Gaza Strip Occupation in â67, and held a national conference against the Apartheid Wall currently being constructed in Palestine.
The attendance of some 500 people doubled the expectations of the organisers, and a second hall was required to ensure those who werenât able to sit in the main hall could still listen to the speeches and debates via loudspeakers.
This success is especially significant as the event had been attacked from all sides during it’s preparations, and speakers, as well as funders, were pressured to withdraw from the conference. The strong attendance shows that amongst the German population the call to end the occupation and to tear down the Apartheid Wall is gaining ground, notwithstanding the biased information provided by mainstream and, unfortunately, German leftwing media as well.
Despite all the hurdles, a strong program of speakers, including activists, intellectuals and politicians from Palestine and many other countries held the attention of the crowded hall all day long, and well into the evening.
***image2***From 11 am to 8 pm the Apartheid Wall was discussed as the central issue in Israeli politics today. Sharif Omar, representing the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, explained in his introductory speech that “this Wall creates resistance with every meter it advances”. His testimony as a farmer who has lost most of his land behind the Wall, and as a longstanding activist in the struggle for Palestinian freedom exemplified this statement. He told of the daily repression and humiliation, the daily popular resistance and his own experience of dispossession.
Putting the Wall into political context, the second panel discussed the plight of the Palestinian refugees, featuring one of the most eminent speakers on the subject, Salman Abu Sitta. He explained how the Palestinian people have been disposessed of their lands since 1917 (the Balfour Declaration) and explained ways that the Right of Return could be implemented today. As an encouraging message to the many Palestinian refugees present in the hall, and all other supporters of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice he said “however long it may take, you need to insist on your rights.”
The third and fourth panel discussions dealt with the political responsibilities of Germany and Europe and strategies for action. It became clear just how dire concrete action and solid networking is required in order to exert pressure to stop Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, to stop the Occupation and to tear down the Apartheid Wall.
The following day, an activists meeting was organized to complete the conference, and was attended by over 60 individuals and delegates from various groups and organizations from all over Germany. The need for stronger coordination and communication led to the formation of a coordinated German effort against the Apartheid Wall and against the occupation of Palestine. Structures, organizational and communication tools were discussed and the next major day of action was set for the 25th of September, remembering the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada four years ago. Demonstrations will be organized in major German cities and will focus on the Apartheid Wall as a continuing plan of expulsion and annexation. The protests will also highlight the political context in the Middle East and the interrelation between Israeli policies and the new colonialism forced upon the Arab world, by asking not only for an end to the occupation in Palestine but as well in Iraq.
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