STRIKE GERMANY is a call for international cultural workers to strike from German cultural institutions. It is a call to refuse German cultural institutions’ use of McCarthyist policies that suppress freedom of expression, specifically expressions of solidarity with Palestine.
STRIKE GERMANY withholds labour and presence from German cultural institutions. Until the demands below are met, participation will be withdrawn from festivals, panels, and exhibitions.
STRIKE GERMANY upholds a commitment to liberationist struggle and against Germany’s embargo on internationalist solidarity.
As the genocidal campaign on Gaza continues – amounting to one of the deadliest assaults on a civilian population in our times – the German state has intensified the repression of its own Palestinian population and those who stand against Israel’s war crimes. Palestine solidarity protests are mislabeled as anti-Semitic and banned, activist spaces are raided by police, and violent arrests are frequent. This reactionary wave has also swept across the cultural sector and academia resulting in a slew of firings, cancellations, public doxxing, and outright censorship, effectively silencing any criticism of the Israeli state. The countless, invisible instances of repression have been punctuated by high-profile scandals: the Palestinian novelist Adania Shibli disinvited from receiving the LiBeraturpreis at the Frankfurt Book Fair; two major sponsors of the Hannah Arendt Prize withdrew their support after the recipient, Jewish American writer Masha Gessen, published an article on Gaza; the cultural centre Oyoun was denied funding and forced to close for hosting an event by a group called “Jewish Voices for a Just Peace in the Middle East.” The majority of those publically targeted have been Palestinian, Arab, Jewish, Black, and Brown.
While German weapons exports to Israel have increased ten-fold since the start of the assault on Gaza, the German cultural and academic sectors’ complete reliance on public funds has increasingly transformed cultural production into an extension of state policy. Since the German Parliament passed the 2019 anti-BDS resolution, cultural institutions operate with the understanding that in Germany there is no space for solidarity with Palestine, under threat of losing funding.
German post-reunification “remembrance culture” (Erinnerungskultur)—the state campaign to address Germany’s genocide of the Jews—acts as a repressive dogma, reinvigorating the oppression that real “rememberance” should work against. Rather than reckon with their own racist increasingly neo-fascist politics, German media and politicians rush to blame Arab and Muslim populations in Germany for so-called “imported anti-semitism.” Germany is not unique – but no other state has made an unconditional alliance with Israel its “Staatsräson” (raison d’état) and a prerequisite for participation in public and cultural life. The German state cannot continue to consolidate further authoritarianism against voices opposed to racism, colonialism, and genocide.
The time has come to STRIKE GERMANY.
1. PROTECT ARTISTIC FREEDOM (KUNSTFREIHEIT)
Cultural workers are subjected to focused background checks concerning their positions on Palestine/Israel. Cultural institutions are surveilling social media, petitions, open letters, and public statements for expressions of solidarity with Palestine in order to weed out cultural workers who do not echo Germany’s unequivocal support of Israel. These checks are infringements on constitutionally protected freedoms and are de facto hidden forms of racial profiling.
STRIKE GERMANY demands that cultural institutions refuse to police the politics of their artists and instead insist on their autonomy from state policy, invite critical discourse, and allow for dissent. They must protect the constitutional right of artistic freedom including the rights of freedom of opinion, freedom of association, and participation in cultural life.
2. FOCUS THE FIGHT AGAINST ANTI-SEMITISM
German cultural institutions have relied on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which is highly criticised for its ambiguity in conflating criticism of the State of Israel with anti-Semitism, as an internal guideline. The IHRA definition is increasingly becoming official state policy, effectively censoring criticism of the state of Israel and anti-Zionist perspectives from the German cultural sphere, furthering a dangerous false equivalency that ultimately harms the fight against anti-Semitism.
STRIKE GERMANY demands that cultural institutions adopt the more precise guidelines, written in response to IHRA, proposed by Jerusalem Declaration of Anti-Semitism (JDA). Cultural institutions must rely on JDA to counter the repressive climate sanctioned by IHRA’s ambiguity and focus the fight against anti-Semitism.
3. COMBAT STRUCTURAL RACISM
While institutions have made a point to outwardly showcase the work of marginalised people, their internal policies do not support the basic principles of anti-racist and liberatory struggles. Despite many initiatives warning that the anti-BDS resolution of 2019 is effectively an instrument of structural racism that distorts, maligns and silences marginalised positions, German institutions accepted it without opposition. This resolution has also contributed specifically to anti-Palestinian repression, as well as a climate of anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia already widespread in German society.
STRIKE GERMANY demands that German cultural institutions commit to overturning the anti-BDS resolution and fight against all forms of racism and bigotry in an equal manner.
CALL TO ACTION
STRIKE GERMANY calls on cultural workers to strike, sign the signatory list, and pressure institutions to commit to the above demands.
Cultural workers within institutions can use STRIKE GERMANY‘s campaign demands for contract negotiations and as guidelines to organise against these infringements on basic liberties. International institutions can show their solidarity by refusing to collaborate with German institutions not willing to meet the demands and by offering opportunities to those who have been deplatformed in Germany.
STRIKE GERMANY is addressed primarily to international cultural workers invited for shows, festivals, and panels at German cultural institutions. Germany profits tremendously from the discourses and spaces of reflection that cultural workers bring forth: refuse instrumentalization, bullying, and disciplining by the German state.
STRIKE GERMANY is a strike against anti-Palestinian racism and censorship in their most advanced official forms. As Gaza is being annihilated, artists and cultural workers have a responsibility to fight for internationalist solidarity and the right to speak out against the ongoing massacre.