Statement to Internationalist Queer Pride Berlin

22 July 2023

I have been asked to share a speech with you today by my friend and fellow artist Franziska Biberkopf about the political situation facing Palestinians and their allies in Germany. I am here to represent many of us in the cultural sector, to speak about systemic problems facing us, and reflect our growing concern with the broader German context.

Liebe Leute, I am Franziska Biberkopf—a worker, an artist, and a homosexual! That is, I am one of you!

I am with you in the streets, but I am also with you on stage, in galleries, on screens, in your headphones and on the dancefloor. I am here today because I love each and everyone of you, I am here today because I am worried for all of us. Worried in this capital city of a country so concerned with Erinnerung, that something very important is being ignored.

Earlier this summer, the federal Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth expressed a clear stance against those of us who stand up in solidarity with the cause of Palestinian self-determination. 

Claudia, in your speech at the re-opening of the HKW in June, you drew a line in the sand against BDS. You stated that support of BDS or "its values"  by cultural institutions in Germany will not be tolerated.. This echoes the  repressive actions of cultural institutions against freedom of speech and expression in the last year. German hostility to Palestine and Palestinians has become widespread and systemic PUNKT.

We all recall the hate campaigns, media attacks and calls for censorship directed at the artists & curatorial team of the Documenta15. At the end of 2022, there were the media attacks on Matondo Castlo for his participation in a cultural festival in Palestine last year. An international exhibition in the Gropius Bau on the topic of the Bandung Conference will be postponed indefinitely. Reasons for this are not publicly communicated - but internally it is said that the topic of decolonialism and  the artists who address it are considered too provocative in Germany’s fragile climate. They forgot to mention that the fragility is white. 

This is why we must gather together, at events like this: protests! This is why we must fill the streets, stand shoulder to shoulder, and cry out to remember that no one is free until everyone is free! 

It is not just Palestinians who face retribution for their politics, but also those who stand with them. It is concerning that German institutions today actively silence Jewish artists who speak out for Palestine. It is concerning that in Germany, what began as a desire to fight antisemitism has mutated in many cases into anti-Palestinianism. In Germany anti-palestinianism is on the rise.. It is concerning that anyone who speaks up for Palestine (Arab, Jewish or otherwise) gets cancelled, fired, and censored. It is concerning that the faint-hearted German subjects are unwilling to face the every day violence in Palestine that they too have caused. 

I, Franziska Biberkopf, am here today to call that you join me and your fellows in making space, here in Berlin, here in Germany, in your cultural institutions, in your office, in your writing, in your art. Make space for artists who bravely call for freedom. We are here to stop censoring ourselves and stand up for those who are being silently censored. We are not here for the fake Kunstfreiheit that only hopes to make the world's problems convenient for German audiences. We are hot, we are sexy, we are in the streets, but we also need to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Oppression has no silver lining, but in the struggle we find that we were never alone. We were loud yesterday, we are loud today, we should be loud for everyone tomorrow. 

Palestine will be free. Free free Palestina!