Thoughts at the End of the Year 2014, by Gabi Weber
„The tactics of the Israel lobby plumb the depths of dishonour and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the wilful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth.” (Chas Freeman, former Ambassador of the USA to the Middle East)
Thoughts at the end of the year 2014 by Dr. Gabi Weber, Cafe Palestine, Freiburg
December 27, 2008 witnessed the beginning of one of the most brutal Israeli military actions against the Gaza Strip, which at that time was already completely cut off the rest of the world.
The attacks from air, see and land against a population without any place to run for safety were dubbed ‘Operation Cast Lead’. About 1400 Palestinians died during these attacks, more than 80 % of them civilians, more than 5000 persons were injured, more than 50,000 people were displaced from their homes inside the Gaza Strip. During the attacks, Israel deployed internationally outlawed weapons like white phosphorus and depleted uranium.
As is often the case in Israeli military actions, ‘Operation Cast Lead’ started contemporaneously with another event receiving a considerably more extensive coverage in the media – the elections in the USA, embedded in a ‘peaceful Christmas time’ so that the public around the world was once again distracted from what was going on in Palestine.
November 2012 saw the next big Israeli attack on Gaza, which resulted in 160 casualties, again most of them civilians. (This is not the place to discuss the innumerable breaks of ceasefires, all of which are documented in the Internet.)
During the summer of 2014, while the world was caught in soccer mania and in an exceptional state, the Gaza strip was for several weeks exposed to the worst Israeli attacks since 1967: Operation Protective Edge’. More than 2150 people were killed in the Gaza strip alone, more than 11,000 people were injured, hundreds of thousands were displaced without any safe place to go, tens of thousands of homes were destroyed. Again, most of the victims were innocent civilians – children, women, men, disabled and elderly people.
In the West Bank including East-Jerusalem the killing, imprisoning, displacing, destruction was continued with unabated brutality.
Faced with these figures and the tragic human fates they speak of we are left speechless and horrified.
During the past five years Cafe Palestine has tried to translate this paralyzing horror into something that some of you might not define as ‘positive energy’. For our small group of devoted and peace loving women, however, it actually means trying to develop something positive, not to let our speechlessness prevail, but to stand up against injustice, lies, propaganda and their disastrous consequences.
We are women, mothers, academics with varying biographies and backgrounds– but we are united by something essential: we are confident that the truth will liberate us, as it is written over the side entrance of the University of Freiburg in golden letters.
We are convinced that courage, information, tolerance and standing up for Human Rights and our own democratic rights, against double morals and double standards, can change the World for the better.
This is the reason why we risk so much.
We devote our hearts, our strength, our talents, our knowledge and our abilities as well as material goods to this work. We cook and bake, buy and sell things and do needlework in order to get money into our cash box. We organize relief actions, lectures, concerts, exhibitions, conferences, we translate, accommodate guests, take them to the train station/airport, take care of public relations, design and distribute flyers, we copy, discuss, inform, protest, rally, write, are present in the internet. We get defamed, harassed, threatened, and insulted. All this in spite of our fulltime jobs and our obligations as mothers.
You surely ask yourself why we do that.
The answer is simple: we owe this to ourselves and to our children. We don’t want to get paralyzed by the desolate conditions around us and we don’t want to be inactive bystanders.
Next year (2015) CafE Palestine Freiburg will celebrate its fifth anniversary. This makes us proud, and we can look back at an exciting time.
More than 150 speakers, presenters, artists and cooperation partners from Palestine, Israel, Germany and the whole world enriched our lives during these fife years and gave us lots of new and important insights. We listened and we debated, even though what we heard was sometimes almost unbearable, we were amazed and horrified, we laughed and we wept, and sometimes we didn’t know how to cope with all the shocking things we came to know.
At the same time the feeling that we are not alone has grown stronger by the day, and this has given us strength. This strength we need to stand all the attacks on our work.
Below you find a short overview of the annually repeated and frequently intensified actions against Cafe Palestine Freibrug:
November 2010 – The Mayor of Freiburg, Dr. Dieter Salomon, bans the Nakba Exhibition on the premises of the Municipal Library. Café Palestine wins its legal action at the Administrative Court Freiburg, the exhibition takes place and turns out to be the most successful exhibition ever held at the Municipal Library Freiburg. (Documentation Palästina-Portal)
September 2011 – the Deutsch-Israelische Gesellschaft and the anti-German ISF join forces to initiate the ‘Thementage Antisemitismus’ in order to confront a conference on the freedom of speech and opinion organized by Café Palestine. The presenters of our conference receive letters asking them to think twice about taking part. The ‘Badische Zeitung’ reported.
Autumn 2012 – Dr. Heinrich Schwendemann from the University of Freiburg succeeds in preventing Cafe Palestine from renting rooms at the university. Cafe Palestine takes legal action at the Administrative Court Freiburg. In this case as well the BZ publishes several articles on this. Cafe Palestine prevails in May 2013 (BZ, TAZ). From this time on there are regular events organized by Cafe Palestine in the lecture rooms of the university.
June 1013 – For the first time, David Harnasch uses the term ‘Café Judenhass’ (Café hatred against Jews) in connection with Cafe Palestine Freiburg on the Internet. Shortly after that – in July 2013 – Henryk M Broder, HMB, (infamous islamophobe Zionist) starts attacking Cafe Palestine Freiburg and myself on the blog "Achse des Guten" ("Axis of the Good")
November 2013 – during a movie show several alarm clocks are distributed in the theatre in order to cause panic.
December 2013 – HMB ‘does himself the honour’ of lecturing about ‘Café Judenhass’ in Freiburg (open letter to HMB). The events accompanying this ‘lecture’ lead to Cafe Palestine being forbidden to organize events at the Jos Fritz Café, the venue where almost all our events took place.
December 2014 – American Jewish Committee, Bild am Sonntag, Focus and Benjamin Weinthal with an article in the Jerusalem Post succeed in Cafe Palestine Freiburg being excluded from the Canaan Conference in Berlin.
The Department for Labour and Social Affairs of the Senate of Berlin and the Federal Ministry for Families, Senior Citizens, Women, and Adolescents gave the management of the conference the choice of either having Cafe Palestine Freiburg taking part or receiving Euro 45,000 in support money and being allowed to use the premises of the Rotes Rathaus, Berlin´s city hall. The management of the conference complied. Once again lies, defamation and cowardice won the day.
During the past years and especially during the past weeks many people sent us encouraging and supportive emails. This makes us happy and encourages us in our work.
So, also at the end of this year the only thing that remains to do is to say THANK YOU.
THANKS to the wonderful women working in the foreground and their families in the background (who always keep encouraging us) who make up Cafe Palestine.
THANKS to our contributors, artists, cooperation partners for their courage, their support and their confidence, that together we can make a difference for the better.
THANKS to our audience here and all over the world for their solidarity and support.
THANKS also to our adversaries. Their efforts to prevent Café Palestine from accomplishing its educational work are a good example showing us what kind of forces are at work in order to suppress truth.
These were the contributors in 2014
Latifeh Abu El Asal, Palestine
Professor Helga Baumgarten, Palestine/Germany (Lecture on Youtube)
Greta Berlin, USA
Audrey Bomse, USA
Salwa Duaibis, Palestine
Hedy Epstein, USA
Siba Irsheid and Dr. Gabi Weber, Germany
Ofra Yeshua-Lyth, Israel
Dr. Samir Abed-Rabbo, USA/Palestine
Andreas Altmann, France/Germany
Professor Marc Ellis, USA
Professor Richard Falk, USA
Amos Gvirtz, Israel
Otto Höschle, Switzerland
Gerard Horton, Palestine/Australia
Professor Moawiyah Ibrahim, Jordan
Imad Mustafa, Germany/Palestine
Rashed Khudiri Sawafteh, Palestine
Dr. h.c. Hans-Cristof von Sponeck, Germany
Dr. Peter Strutynski, Germany
Wisam Zureik, Germany/Palestine
Joseph Tawadros, Australia/Egypt
Lotfi Ben Ayed, France/Tunesia
Salah El-Din Rifat, France/Egypt
Basem Salem, Germany/Palestine
The cooperation partners
Begegnungszentrum Kreuzsteinäcker, Heiliggeistspitalstiftung Freiburg and Frau Muthny
Bürger für den Frieden Karlsruhe
Deutsch-Palästinensisches Ärzteforum e. V., PalMed
Deutsch-Palästinensische medizinische Gesellschaft, DPMG
EAPPI-Netzwerk Deutschland and Anja Soboh
Eine-Welt-Forum Freiburg and Dagmar Große
Freiburger Fenster and Wolfgang Stickel
Institut für Palästinakunde Bonn
Orientalischer Basar Mundenhof
Palästinensische Ärzte- und Apothekervereinigung Deutschland e. V.
Petra Faißt, Gemeinde Maria-Hilf, Kulturamt Freiburg, Sparkasse Freiburg, Brauerei Ganter
Universität Freiburg, Zentrale Raumvergabe und Frau Weber, Herr Lais
American Jewish Committee
Bild am Sonntag
Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Arbeit und Soziales
Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend
I wish you a happy New Year!
Gabi Weber, Chairwoman Cafe Palestine Freiburg e. V.