zizek29_Sebastian Gollnowpicture alliance via Getty Images_palestine congress germany Sebastian Gollnowpicture alliance via Getty Images

Canceling Palestine

Current debates about Israeli policy are rife with double standards, leading to absurd decisions like Germany’s recent cancellation of a pro-Palestinian gathering. By quashing legitimate speech and assembly, an Israel-aligned establishment risks inciting precisely the kind of anti-Semitism that it wants to prevent.

LJUBLJANA – It is only April, but we already have a good candidate for photo of the year. On April 12, German police shut down a Palestine Congress that was set to take place in Berlin, and among those arrested was Udi Raz, a devout Jew with a red yarmulke. In photos and videos of the incident, one can clearly see the smirking aggression on the faces of the policemen – reminiscent of their forebears in the 1930s – as they drag away a Jew.

Among those swept up in the ongoing struggle against anti-Semitism in Germany, many are Jews. The Palestine Congress itself was a joint initiative of the Berlin-based organization Jüdische Stimme für Gerechten Frieden in Nahost (Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East) and the pan-European political movement and party DiEM25, whose top figure is Yanis Varoufakis. Yet the German Ministry of the Interior has now banned Varoufakis not only from entering the country, but even from online participation in any political activities there.

Varoufakis is fully justified in claiming that, with this ban, the German government has crossed the line into authoritarian behavior. Worse, the German political establishment – including even the Greens and Die Linke (The Left) – have supported the move, reflecting the breadth of the new anti-anti-Semitic cancel culture. To be sure, similar incidents are occurring in the United States, where, for example, Hobart and William Smith Colleges recently placed political theorist Jodi Dean on leave, after she published an essay discerning an emancipatory potential in Hamas’s October 7 attack. But Germany represents an extreme case of how the establishment has appropriated cancel culture.