“Berlin's Shame”: Uproar in German media and politics over criticism of Israel at the Berlinale

“Berlin's Shame”: Uproar in German media and politics over criticism of Israel at the Berlinale

Shame on Berlin” Under the title South German newspaper. One commentator wrote that what happened Saturday evening at the Berlinale was “wrong, bad, ugly and terrible.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Secretary of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Green Party) announced an investigation into “the events that occurred during the awards ceremony.” Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (Free Democratic Party) has already threatened “criminal consequences.”

Because what happened on Saturday evening in Berlin? At the screening of “Berlin Bears” at the conclusion of the Berlin Film Festival, there was criticism of Israel. First, Israeli director Yuval Abraham and his Palestinian colleague Basil Adra won the Best Documentary Award for their film No other land.

On stage, Ibrahim saidStanding next to Adra, he said the following: We are the same age. […] In two days we will return to a country where we are not equal. I live under civil law, while Basel lives under military law. We live thirty minutes apart, but I have the right to vote, and Basel does not. I am free to go where I want. Basel, like millions of other Palestinians, is trapped in the occupied West Bank. “This apartheid situation, this inequality among us, must end.”

After that, an award in another category went to the documentary Direct action By creators Guillaume Cailloux and Ben Russell. The team entered the stage wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian scarves, around their shoulders. American Ben Russell said: “Of course we stand here for life, against genocide, and for a ceasefire.”


In Germany, it is very controversial to accuse Israel of “genocide” or of “apartheid.” However, it took some time before the awards ceremony became the “scandal” that German newspapers write about. Video footage showed that Foreign Minister Roth and Berlin Mayor Kai Wegner (CDU) were among the audience and applauded Abraham's speech. Kai Wegener, according to a Berlin newspaper correspondent Daily Mirror He barely understood English, and wrote on X the next day that “anti-Semitism has no place in Berlin.” Wegener falls into a pattern seen repeatedly in Germany in recent months: a German accuses a progressive Israeli Jew (in this case the documentary filmmaker Yuval Abraham) of anti-Semitism.

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Roth's ministry felt it necessary to emphasize in a statement that Roth only praised Yuval Abraham's words, but not those of Palestinian Bassel Adra, who on stage called for a halt to arms shipments to Israel.

For the Berlinale, the problems became even greater when, according to the organisers, the Berlinale's Instagram account was hacked and, among other things, the words “From the river to the sea“It appeared on the account; This text is banned in Germany. The organization submitted a report.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) also spoke about the scandal surrounding the Berlinale. A government spokesman said that for Schulz, “such a unilateral position,” without mentioning the Hamas attacks on October 7, “cannot continue as it is.” In conservative circles By the youth wing of the Christian Democratic Union Party For example, by newspaper columnists the worldThere are now calls to stop financial support for the Berlinale.

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