Activists in Berlin blockaded the entrance to a “Tel Aviv beach party” in the Kreuzberg district of the German capital on Sunday.
The video above shows police forcibly removing the peaceful protesters as they shout “Racists get out of Germany” and “Boycott Israel.”
This comes just weeks after hundreds of protesters in Paris turned a similar “Tel Aviv beach party” on the banks of the Seine into a public relations disaster for Israel.
“Smiling face of Zionism”
The Sunday event, featuring Israeli DJs, free gifts, “Israeli food counters” and massages was promoted by its sponsor as a celebration of Tel Aviv and the “various aspects of freedom this beautiful city stands for.”
Tel Aviv’s beach in particular was described as the place where “all of its inhabitants take their refuge from everyday’s hardship [sic].”
“And so, if Berlin to Germany is what Tel Aviv [is] to Israel, we try again – to connect the two, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon of great music and many many goodies,” the promotional announcement stated.
“We have chosen to disrupt the ‘Tel Aviv beach party’ since we must offer resistance to Zionism’s acts of propaganda,” the activists who took part in the protest say in a statement sent to The Electronic Intifada.
Israeli propaganda, or hasbara, can take many forms, the statement notes, including “cultural events promoting Israel’s ‘liberal culture’ or ‘gay-friendliness,’ also termed whitewashing and pinkwashing.”
“Liberal, middle class Tel Aviv is the smiling face of Zionism,” the statement says. “Tel Aviv’s luxury restaurants, hipster bars and hi-tech companies are home to the pilots setting Gaza ablaze.”
“It offers Israelis and tourists – but of course no Palestinian refugees or residents of the West Bank and Gaza – the chance to sit on its beautiful beaches and forget they are occupiers,” the statement adds.
The activists also comment on the neighborhood where the event was held in the German capital: “Bringing a ‘Tel Aviv party’ to the center of a migrant neighborhood in Berlin, offering Palestinian dishes as authentic Israeli food in a posh restaurant that is beyond the reach of most of its working class residents, all in the name of a ‘multiculturalism’ which merely means the preservation of racist privileges – this is beyond shameless.” (Read the full statement below.)
In recent years, thousands of young Israelis have moved to the former Nazi capital.
The “beach party” was sponsored by Habait, which bills itself as a “unique independent project that is designed to promote contemporary Israeli culture in Berlin.”
The advertising for Sunday’s event does not mention any official sponsorship by the Israeli embassy. But the Berlin activists believe that this was a deceptive tactic meant to avoid protests.
Activists told The Electronic Intifada they witnessed the presence of plainclothes Israeli security, an indication in their view that it was coordinated with and supported by the Israeli embassy.
Last year, the event was explicitly co-sponsored by the Israeli embassy, whose logo was prominent on the 2014 advertising materials.
JNF is an Israeli state-backed entity that directly participates in the ethnic cleansing and colonization of Palestinian land throughout historic Palestine, often under the guise of ecological initiatives.
Full statement from Berlin activists
Zionism’s Smiling Face
A statement regarding the disruption of the “Tel Aviv beach party” in Berlin, 30 August 2015:
The organizers of this year’s “Tel Aviv beach party” (shamelessly renamed to “Tel Aviv-Jaffa” in an ironic attempt to depoliticize the event, only emphasizing more the colonization of Palestine), would love to see themselves as non-political.
Their city is a city of “various aspects of freedom,” where “all of its inhabitants take their refuge from everyday’s hardship.” They are the good guys, flawless and pure. They come to Berlin in order to not see the occupation of Palestine, which after 68 years became an eye sore spoiling their beautiful view of Tel Aviv’s “wonderful beach.”
Some are apparently even ready to donate their fees to liberal human rights organizations of their choice, which will use it to further sustain an unsustainable situation. They wish to promote a culture of “liberal notions of human rights and freedom.” They’d love to see themselves as part of a solution, since they rather dance in Berlin than burn babies in the West Bank. They refuse to see that they themselves are the problem.
Liberal, middle class Tel Aviv is the smiling face of Zionism, blinding the world with the whiteness of its teeth while its booted foot lays firmly on the neck of the Palestinian people. Tel Aviv’s luxury restaurants, hipster bars and hi-tech companies are home to the pilots setting Gaza ablaze, the companies profiting from the colonization of Palestine, the artists making the world dance and sing and forget, while underneath them commands of death are being given in front of screens in deep bunkers.
Tel Aviv’s tourism, its pride parades, its stock markets are the shiny jewels Israel holds up to the world while its military marches through West Bank villages, while its secret police holds activists for months on end without charge in its cellars, while its judicial system legitimizes ethnic cleansing and stealing of land. Tel Aviv is the beating heart of Zionism. It offers Israelis and tourists – but of course no Palestinian refugees or residents of the West Bank and Gaza – the chance to sit on its beautiful beaches and forget they are occupiers.
We are here to remind them of just that.
We have chosen to disrupt the “Tel Aviv beach party” since we must offer resistance to Zionism’s acts of propaganda. This propaganda, dubbed by the state hasbara (explanation), has many faces. It can take the form of army generals and politicians interviewing to CNN, justifying war crimes with biblical rhetoric. It can take the form of American billionaires using their capital against Palestinian solidarity groups in university campuses. It can take the form of cultural events promoting Israel’s “liberal culture” or “gay-friendliness,” also termed whitewashing and pinkwashing.
In the last years, due to the rising success of campaigns of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, more and more events which used to be openly sponsored by the Israeli government suddenly appear as self-organized and independent, so as to not be boycottable by BDS guidelines. But any short Internet search shows the past connections of the organizers of the “Tel Aviv beach party” with the Israeli state or with the JNF, its main organ of ethnic displacement.
It is for those reasons that this propaganda must be opposed, even if it does not fall under the categories of a BDS campaign. Bringing a “Tel Aviv party” to the center of a migrant neighborhood in Berlin, offering Palestinian dishes as authentic Israeli food in a posh restaurant that is beyond the reach of most of its working class residents, all in the name of a “multiculturalism” which merely means the preservation of racist privileges – this is beyond shameless. This shall not pass.
They will call us anti-Semites. Those of us who are Jews they will call self-hating. But we will continue pointing our finger at the lies of their propaganda. And the world will see through the smiling face of Zionism.
Palestine Solidarity Activists in Berlin, August 2015.