A leading Israeli expert on counterterrorism on Sunday urged the German government to outlaw Palestinian NGO Samidoun.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi, chairman and founder of the Israel Defense and Security Forum (IDSF), spoke out after Samidoun’s German branch organized a march in Berlin on April 8 where the mainly German Muslim participants chanted “Death to Jews” and “Death to Israel.”
In October, Mohammed Khatib, the E.U. coordinator for the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, urged the destruction of Israel and the defeat of the U.S., E.U. and Canada, speaking at a rally outside the European Parliament in Brussels.
“Defeating Israel means defeating the United States. Defeating Israel means defeating Canada. These settlements [that] exist on the back of the indigenous people and the black people,” said Khatib at the rally.
When asked about the calls for genocidal antisemitism carried out by Samidoun in Berlin, Avivi told JNS, “I expect the German government and the governments of the individual states to implement a firm and clear policy against any display of antisemitism in Germany.
“We are monitoring this worrying trend of displays of Jew-hatred in Germany, sometimes disguised as Israel-hatred, much of which is sponsored by Iran, Hamas and other terror organizations. This must not be tolerated,” he said.
“Any organization that promotes antisemitism and has direct ties to other hateful terror organizations should be outlawed, first and foremost for the preservation of law and order in German society,” Avivi continued.
Samuel Salzborn, the antisemitism commissioner for the city-state of Berlin, told JNS, “The antisemitic character of the gathering…in Berlin is without question, based on the information available.”
The protest falls in line with “rallies in recent years where anti-Israel [activities] and antisemitism are associated with open hate speech against Jewish women and Jews in Germany,” he added.
“With that in mind, I have asked the public prosecutor’s investigative authorities to examine issues of criminal law regarding the gathering,” the commissioner said.
When asked whether the state of Berlin will outlaw Samidoun within its borders, Salzborn said that “bans on activities” are the responsibility of the federal government.
Authorities in the state did, however, ban two Samidoun demonstrations planned for Saturday and Sunday. German state governments frequently punt the responsibility to the federal government when they are in a position to crack down on Islamic-animated terrorism and antisemitism.
When JNS asked the Federal German Interior Ministry if it plans to outlaw Samidoun in the country, spokesman Björn Bowinkelmann responded, “We ask for your understanding that the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community generally does not comment on deliberations regarding a possible ban, regardless of whether there is reason for such deliberations in individual cases.”
Bowinkelmann added that “the Federal Ministry of the Interior handles it this way because otherwise there would be a risk that those potentially affected would act accordingly and the effectiveness of operational official measures could be impaired or thwarted.”
According to the Israeli Defense Ministry’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF), “The Samidoun organization was designated as a terrorist organization as it is part of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and was founded by members of the PFLP in 2012.”
The E.U. and the U.S. have also designated the PFLP as a foreign terrorist organization.
The Federal Interior Ministry and commissioner to combat antisemitism, Felix Klein, have come under fire recently for omitting murderous antisemitic threats by Palestinian organizations and the Iranian regime from the ministry’s report on its strategy to fight Jew-hatred in Germany.
Klein, in contrast to the U.S. government and the Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt, refuses to condemn Iran’s regime as the world’s worst state-sponsor of terrorism, antisemitism and Holocaust denial.
Revolutionary Guards Corps
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has carried out, in Germany, surveillance of German and French Jews and pro-Israel advocates, shootings at a synagogue and an attempted assassination plot. Germany’s government refuses to sanction the IRGC.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry, which faced criticism from UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer for “joining the jackals” at the United Nations Human Rights Council by condemning Israel in April, told JNS that “The Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community is responsible for any questions relating to the classification of organizations as terrorist organizations.”
JNS press queries sent to Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Commission coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life, about whether the E.U. plans to outlaw Samidoun went unanswered. Von Schnurbein has faced criticism over the years for refusing to urge the E.U. to ban Hezbollah’s entire organization.
The streets of Berlin
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told JNS, “I raised the issue of the ‘Death to Israel’ chants on the streets of Berlin etc. with Ministry of Justice on that day and at other anti-Israel demonstrations years ago. Nothing has changed. Fighting antisemitism is hard work, but to be effective there must be consequences for those who publicly shout threats not heard on the streets of Germany since the Nazi Third Reich.”
Cooper continued, “We appreciate the various initiatives announced to combat antisemitism, but of even greater importance is arresting and prosecuting ‘Death to Israel’ protesters. Without it, the mainstreaming of Jew-hatred in German society will only continue to expand, with potentially dire results. If history taught us anything, it is that the words taught and uttered in the 1930s in Germany set the stage for the Shoah.”
Samidoun’s German branch is highly active across the country and the authorities are frequently deferential towards the terrorist entity. In 2020, Israeli violinist Ana Agre, who lives in Frankfurt, mounted a one-woman protest against a Samidoun demonstration. The Frankfurt police issued her a notice to vacate the area due to her Israeli flag and she was ordered to appear for a police interrogation for her pro-Israel activity.
When she asked a police official in Frankfurt why she was not allowed to display an Israeli flag, the officer responded: “Because I don’t like it.”
The pro-Samidoun activists approached Agre chanting slogans including “Nazis out.”
Agre wrote this reporter by email at the time: “I was very upset and confused because I had never dealt with the police and could not understand what I was accused of.
“There were no details or explanations in the letter from the police, only the accusation of insult,” she added.
Samidoun’s website includes pictures and articles from its protests in 2022 in the cities of Aachen and Frankfurt. The group’s protest in Cologne on Saturday was dispersed by police because demonstrators violated the conditions of the rally by repeatedly issuing violent threats against Israel.
In February, the Alliance for Global Justice, a U.S.-based NGO, announced that it has been blocked from receiving credit card donations. These sanctions were introduced by multiple credit card companies due to AfGJ’s financial support of Samidoun.