Pro-War Left in Germany?


Klaus Lederer
Klaus Lederer
Klaus Lederer, leader of the Left Party in Germany, at an 11 January 2009 pro-Israel demonstration titled “Solidarity with Israel — Against the Terrorism of Hamas”

On this coming Thursday (16 July 2009), the leader of the left-wing party in Berlin, Klaus Lederer, will speak at the offices of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Tel Aviv under the title “Berlin — A City for Us All?  Progressive Urbanization Processes and Social Alternatives.”  The topic of the lecture raises serious questions concerning the functioning of the “Left Party” within the Berlin Municipality and the manner in which it is using their representatives in the processes of gentrification in recent years through the promotion of commercial projects in residential neighborhoods such as Kreuzberg, in addition to its policy regarding social projects and centers throughout the city.  However, these are not the only interesting subjects in the discussion with Lederer; particularly during his visit to Tel Aviv, it is appropriate to speak about his participation earlier this year in a Berlin demonstration in favor of the Israeli military attacks on Gaza.

On 11 January 2009, the chairperson of the “Left Party” in Berlin, Klaus Lederer, participated in a demonstration organized by a number of Jewish organizations, the goal of which was to express support for the continuation of the Israeli military attacks.  We should remember that by 11 January, the number of Palestinians killed in these attacks already passed the 1,000 mark, the first reports concerning the use of phosphorous bombs reached the international press, and in Israel tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens and residents of Israel and Jewish and Arab left-wing activists were protesting against the massacre, while hundreds of them were already in prison.  Despite the shocking reports that managed to get out of Gaza and the clear call of left-wing Israeli and Palestinian organizations for international pressure on Israel to halt the attacks, Lederer decided to participate in the aforementioned demonstration in Berlin which clearly called for a continuation of the invasion into the Gaza Strip.

Solidarity and Friendship with Israel: “‘I will bless them that bless thee,’ says God, the Lord.” — Die Partei Bibeltreuer Christen – PBC (Party of Bible-abiding Christians)

Lederer’s speech at the demonstration was not extremely pro-war.  He essentially contended that while war is an unpleasant and not nice matter and that a peace agreement would be much better for both sides, as long as Hamas activists were launching rockets toward Israel and in Germany “anti-Semites” were demonstrating against the war, Lederer wanted to demonstrate his solidarity with the Jewish People and the aforementioned demonstration appeared to him the appropriate place to do so.  The very fact that at this demonstration during which he spoke were also present Islamaphobic right-wing activists (Christians, of course) who regularly demonstrate together with Nazis against the construction of mosques, he chose not to mention.

I don’t know if he intended to dub the group of counter-demonstrators present as anti-Semites.  Actually, this small group of tens of demonstrators, bearing signs against the war in German and Hebrew, were attacked during his speech by a few bullies with Israeli flags.  However, apparently solidarity with the Jewish people, some of whom were amongst the counter-protesters, has a limit.

Lederer’s visit in Israel provides a singular opportunity to raise several fundamental questions about left-wing politics in Israel and the importance of international solidarity in the fight against the Israeli occupation, militarism, and racism.  I hope that Lederer’s visit will be particularly fruitful in this regard.

(The event at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Tel Aviv will take place on Thursday, 16 July at 7pm.)

Yossi Bartal, a former staff member of the Alternative Information Center (AIC), is active in Anarchists against Walls and has been residing in Berlin for the past two years.  This article originally appeared in Hebrew and was translated to English by the AIC.  It was first published by the AIC under a Creative Commons license.