We are publishing the full interview with Zaid Abdulnasser, former member of Samidoun in Germany. “Samidoun – Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network” is an international organization that supports the interests of Palestinian prisoners. It is part of the international movement Masar Badil. On November 2, Samidoun was banned by the Ministry of Interior in Germany. At the same time, demonstrations and rallies in solidarity with the Palestinian resistance and against Israel’s genocide in Gaza are subject to severe repression. Activists without German citizenship are threatened with deportation because of their political opinions and work.
In this interview, Zaid gives a comprehensive overview of the positions and history of Samidoun, the current massive repression against pro-Palestinian solidarity and the erosion of basic democratic rights by the German state. Zaid explains the necessity of sticking to the basic position of the struggle for the national liberation of Palestine in the face of this massive repression. He exposes the racism against Arabs and Muslims and Germany’s open support for the occupation.
The interview was recorded on November 12.
Written version of the complete interview
So first of all, the accusations. You know, PFLP, Hamas… Samidoun has been labeled
an arm of the PFLF, labeled an arm of Hamas, labeled an arm of Islamic Jihad, labeled an arm of Iran. This is a typical tactic, especially in Western countries. A group that is doing political work on the issue of Palestine is sought to be linked to a banned organization in order to ban it. And if this connection does not exist, then they fabricate it by repeating these accusations over and over again until they are tangible enough that they can use it as an excuse. But if there really were links between Samidoun and any factions, then they would have used §129b (Law against terrorist organizations abroad). There is a law for these cases. But they didn’t use it. Because they can’t use it, because these connections don’t exist at all. Of course we appreciate all Palestinian resistance forces, but Samidoun is not part of any Palestinian factions. It is an independent organization of activists working for Palestinian prisoners worldwide. But what they are trying to say here is that the Palestinian resistance is illegitimate, that supporting the resistance is already a call for violence. The Palestinian resistance is legitimate. And it is not only because we are Palestinians and we think we have to liberate ourselves etc., but it is also guaranteed by international law, occupied peoples have the right to armed resistance. The state is somehow trying to create this image that the Palestinian resistance is terrorist, as if Germany or the US or Britain or France or the EU were even in a position to say who is a terrorist. These are the countries that have committed mass murder, death and genocide all over the world in the last 100 years.
Hundreds of millions of people have been killed by these countries. Through the world wars, through the colonial activities of these countries. The wars in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya and so on. You have no right to say who is terrorist, you are the terrorists. And the Palestinian resistance has never waited for the approval of these Western barbaric governments. The Palestinian people and the peoples of the world accept and support this resistance. They do not need the support of Western governments and we do not expect it.
Concerning this demand to distance oneself from Hamas. There are two different starting points for this. From the point of view of the state, no resistance is legitimate. So the German state sees no Palestinian resistance. It only sees terrorism against the settler population in occupied Palestine. You can’t really argue with that, because there is no basic understanding that Palestine is occupied and that resistance is legitimate. On the other hand, there are other actors, such as the German left. They have this understanding: it is a colony in the Middle East, it is a colony in the Arab world, it represents the interests of the imperialists. Resistance to this occupation is legitimate. But they want a communist resistance so that they can support this resistance from their sofas. And I think there is a huge misunderstanding here, also a hugely Eurocentric view of Palestine. Palestine is part of the Arab world and Islam is part of the Arab world, Islam is part of society and Islam is also part of the Palestinian liberation struggle.
For example, the militant arm of Hamas, what is it called? Al-Qassam Brigades. Izz ad-Din al-Qassam is an imam. In 1935, he was in Syria. Well, there was no Syria and Palestine, but the Arab region, but he was from what is now Syria and he fought the French. Then he came to Palestine and set up the first the first organized cells against the British and then died in this fight. And his death triggered the revolution from 1936 to 1939. And this revolution was so enormous in Palestine that by the end of the revolution, there were more British soldiers in Palestine than in India. There was a general strike in Palestine for months. Thus the role of Islam – he was organizing people from within the mosques. Even today, the Islamic resistance plays a leading role in the liberation struggle. There was a time when the PFLP, the Marxist-Leninist resistance faction, or Fatah, the nationalist resistance faction, led the struggle. Nowadays they have a smaller role and the Islamic forces are stronger. And you also have to understand that in the national liberation struggle the main contradiction is with the occupation and there are secondary contradictions within the movement. And the Marxist-Leninist factions in Palestine, the PFLP or DFLP, also understand this. They fully support Hamas. They are part of the struggle in Gaza today. They are defending Gaza with Hamas, with al Jihad etc. against the occupation. So it’s actually a very arrogant notion. People who have read two books and have no material experience in a revolution and liberation struggle. They think they are in a position to condemn these people who are fighting on the frontline and sacrificing their lives for Palestine. So if that’s not Eurocentrism, then I have no idea what is.
If you see that you agree 100% with the position of the state, then you have to ask yourself, what am I doing wrong here? Have I misunderstood something? And it is the understanding of the state. Especially in times of crisis, the state plays an enormous role, and the war media plays an enormous role in emotionalizing society so that suddenly anything goes. They can suddenly do anything they want. They have banned demonstrations, they have banned slogans. Now people are being punished for saying “Israel kills children”, for saying that there is a genocide in Gaza, for saying “From the river to the see – Palestine will be free” people are being punished. People are arrested at demonstrations for having signs with these slogans. At the same time, in a larger sense, the refugee policy is being tightened enormously. Germany’s arms trade with the occupation has increased tenfold in recent months, tenfold! And military support for Ukraine will double next year. And at the same time, living conditions in Germany have become worse. People can no longer afford anything etc. etc. etc. But in this situation, these “evil, barbaric Palestinians on our streets” are declared the enemy.
The state always does it this way. In times of crisis, they always look for an enemy and use the opportunity to emotionalize the population, and then they can do anything they want. It was the same with 9/11, it was the same before the war in Afghanistan, before the war in Iraq, before a war in Libya. When these imperialist states want to fuck around, it starts with the media, the demonization of certain parts of society and other societies. This is typical and it happens all the time. We’ve seen it so many times. And after ten years you think: “ah this war in Iraq wasn’t good”; “the support for the apartheid regime in Africa wasn’t really good”; “this war in Afghanistan wasn’t good”; “what’s happening in Libya is actually bad, but we didn’t know that” and so on. But then they repeat the pattern again and again.
Germany was always on the wrong side. It was even on the wrong side with South Africa, i.e. West Germany at the time. Now they’re the heroes, but at the time they were the terrorists, the barbarians, killing civilians and whatever. That’s historically so, because Germany doesn’t learn from its history. If it had learned, then all Germans would now be on the streets because Germany is now actively supporting the genocide in Gaza. Then Olaf Scholz, for example, would now be in The Hague.
We are also accused of endangering the “peaceful coexistence of the peoples in Germany”. And what we are saying here is that Germany and the German state are endangering peaceful coexistence in Germany. Because this state has alienated millions of people, millions of Palestinians, Arabs, Turks, Kurds, Germans too, and has inflicted extreme violence on them in recent months. In terms of banning demonstrations, physical violence and attacks by the cops on peaceful demonstrations. And these people no longer feel safe. And these are people who really feel alienated in Germany. We see that in our circles too. People see Germany very differently now.
All this is being done under the guise of combating anti-Semitism. And that is also dangerous for the Jews in Germany. It’s extremely dangerous for the Jews in Germany. What they are saying is more or less: if you say what is happening in Gaza is genocide, then you are anti-Semitic. If you support the liberation of Palestine, then you are anti-Semitic. As a result, the occupation represents the Jews, the genocide in Gaza represents the Jews and this is repeated over and over again. That any criticism on this occupation would be an attack on Jews. That will lead to people actually believing that. If the state repeats this all the time, people will also believe: “Ah, isn’t it Jews who caused the genocide in Gaza, and there are Jews who also live here”. This is dangerous, this is extremely dangerous. It was Samidoun’s work and also the work of all Palestinians to separate this equation between the crimes in Palestine and Judaism. We don’t think that what is happening in Gaza right now represents Judaism in any sense. It is a colony, a European colony in Palestine, which is acting quite normally like all other colonies in history. It sees the indigenous people as sub-human, who can be killed, who can be destroyed, who can be expelled. This is typical of the colonialists, and we have seen this in French colonies, in Belgian colonies, in German colonies. All the colonies in the world have this idea and have acted accordingly. We have a problem with this colony and not with Jews or Judaism.
And here it is extremely distasteful to use the word annihilation. Especially when it comes from Germany. Because the extermination of the Jews is the German history. It was never the Palestinian history and it will never be the Palestinian history. It is the Palestinian revolution and the Palestinian liberation struggle that has always rejected this equation between Judaism and Zionism. This is even written in the 1967 Charter, which was written in the refugee camps in Jordan by all the resistance factions. There you can read this clear separation between the two. If you say we want to destroy the occupation, we want a free Palestine from the river to the sea, then it means we want a free Palestine where everyone can live together. That is the alternative to apartheid, that is the alternative to colonialism. That is the alternative to the expulsion of the Palestinians. This is the alternative to treating the Palestinians as sub-humans and to the daily killing and genocide that we see today in Gaza and these real extermination attempts in Gaza. And not because I say so, but because senior Israeli politicians, ministers, prime ministers have explicitly said that they want to kill and annihilate all Palestinians in Gaza. There was also a suggestion that a nuclear bomb should be dropped on Gaza. This is extermination, these are extermination ideologies and these are extermination practices that we see today.
They are attacking hospitals, they are attacking schools, they are attacking journalists, they are attacking everyone, every person. More than 10,000 are killed, almost 5,000 of them are children. And there is no outrage in Germany. What they showed of course was the fake news about 40 children killed in the settlements. That obviously shows that it’s not about Germany’s humanitarian agenda towards the world. Because of fake 40 children there was this huge campaign against all Palestinians, tightening of refugee policy, these attacks against demos, everything was possible. But now there are 5000 real children who have been killed. Where is the outrage? Where are the German politicians who won’t accept it? “We can’t have that.” “We don’t allow that on our streets” and whatever. On the contrary: they actively support the genocide.
The two-state solution is what we have right now. It’s the natural evolution of the two-state solution attempt. We have settlements all over the West Bank. We have a quasi-government run by collaborators working as a tool of the occupation. We have a besieged Gaza that is being annihilated today. This is the two-state solution. The people or the organizations or anyone who calls for the two-state solution – there are some who do it out of a lack of understanding and there are some who know what they are doing, for example, the US. For the USA, it’s like this: We keep the situation in a state of limbo so that nobody can do anything and at the same time the occupation will simply continue with its policy and become stronger. And so on and so forth and it can do anything it wants. At the same time if the Palestinians say anything, “wait, you’re jeopardizing the two-state solution.”
There are also weird ideas where the working class from Palestine will come together with the working class in Israel to smash the occupation. This is simply nonsense. The workers in the occupation are settlers who actively benefit from this occupation. And this occupation has as its core ideology, expansion, expulsion, extermination, killing etc.. These are at the heart of the practices of this occupation. Two-state solution is, again, what we see today and there is no solution for Palestine without dismantling this occupation. Regarding the idea of the two-state solution, you can look at history. What happened to colonies in the past? There is either the future where Palestine liberates itself as Algeria did from the French, as South Africans did who destroyed the apartheid regime, as the Vietnamese did who kicked out the American occupation. And then people can live in dignity and justice. And that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea, where people can simply live together as equals, regardless of religion, in peace and quiet. The second alternative is then that of the colonies of Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, where the colonialists destroy the indigenous population. And these are now the two possibilities. The first, is where people can simply live together as they did before the occupation, and the second is extermination. And if the German state thinks that peaceful coexistence is not possible and that these settlers must have their own land, then they can simply give them Saxony. They have no business in Palestine.
So October 7th was indeed a rebirth of the modern Palestinian revolution. It showed that the Palestinian resistance is capable of fighting, of taking initiative. Several attempts at normalization with Arab states were completely stopped. It has led to the opening of several fronts against the occupation and against America, in Iraq and Yemen and so on. It has shown the true face of the occupation to the whole world: what the occupation is doing today in Gaza, the genocide and killing of children and attacking hospitals and so on and so forth. The Palestinians have seen this every day for 75 years. The world didn’t want to see it. But today, you can’t look away. It is too obvious. And that is a clear signal for anyone who says two-state solution first. It won’t work. The resistance has also shown in practice how the siege of Gaza can be stopped. Because over the 17 years, since the beginning of the siege, there have been several diplomatic and political campaigns, initiatives and so on and so forth to end this siege. There were these “marches of return” where people from Gaza walked to the wall. Hundreds were killed. Thousands, thousands have not only been injured, they are shooting on their knees. There is now a large population who are in wheelchairs. There have also been several attacks on Gaza where the resistance has not even responded. Where the occupation has made an attack in Gaza or an attack on some bases or some buildings, where they think there is this and that, where hundreds of people have also died and the resistance has done nothing. The 17 years have shown that nothing has worked. And the international community and the UN and the EU etc. and the Arab countries can’t stop this siege. The resistance has shown a clear path to lifting this siege.
October 7th, in addition, made the Palestinian cause the first point of geopolitical discussion. We saw very quickly how imperialist countries are backing the occupation and that this occupation is in fact a colony of the West in the Arab world. But especially in Germany, with the repressive measures that we saw. It was really absurd it was really absurd what happened in Germany. And it’s also part of a global trend where these Western states are trying to control the population’s perception of geopolitical events by all means. And they do this by attacking people, media article after media article, where people feel insecure and are annoyed, and then they use this opportunity to create laws that they can then later use in all other areas.
So it really must be an alarm signal for everyone in Germany. Samidoun has done normal political work. They organized demonstrations, rallies, registered everything with the state, gave lectures. That was completely normal political work. But the state doesn’t like the political line. And because the state didn’t like it and because the situation had developed in this way, the state then brought these means to the table, where it could actually ban any political organization more or less. Because there are no criminal activities to back this. It’s just that “these people have said something we don’t like.” And that’s why these rights, which are in the Basic Constitutional Law, with freedom of opinion, freedom of assembly are being completely abolished.
I got a letter from the BAMF, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, saying that the state wants to revoke my residence permit because I was a member of Samidoun. The same reasons that we saw for banning Samidoun were also used for me. That is, support for the PFLP, endangering the coexistence of the peoples in Germany and the basic democratic order. Since last month, there are two more people who are threatened with deportation. Musaab, who had a political ban, his ban was extended until the end of the year. He is not allowed to take part in any political events, which is of course absurd. It is very important to see how disgusting this attack is, because they are attacking Palestinian refugees using their papers, their right of residence. They know that these people have insecure papers.They know that these people have precarious living situations and they take advantage of that to silence these people. They cannot prosecute these people. And that’s why they use their right of residence. That crosses all lines of human decency.
Specifically to my case. We have lodged an appeal. We are still waiting. In similar cases, such proceedings have had two phases. The first is withdrawal of refugee status. And the second is deportation proceedings. We will see how the situation develops, especially in this atmosphere of general anti-Palestinian repression in Germany. And after the ban on Samidoun. So it will be very dangerous. Because it gives them the political legitimacy to do whatever they want.
So there was the ban on Samidoun and Hamas. And the big difference in the role and the structures between these two organizations just shows how enormous the attack against Palestinians in Germany is. Hamas, on the one hand, is a mass organization, a militant organization that leads the resistance in Palestine. Samidoun, on the other hand, is a group of activists working worldwide for the cause of the prisoners in Palestine. Samidoun was founded in 2011 as a website where the statements of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement were translated and published. Because these statements were only ever in Arabic. And this work then developed over time and Samidoun is now active on the streets in several countries. They do demonstrations, rallies, lectures, and so on and so forth, linking the struggles of Palestinian prisoners with international struggles, because every liberation movement has political prisoners every liberation movement has prisoners at the center of its struggle
So this is Samidoun, and today the work of Samidoun is more important than ever. The situation in the prisons now is simply worse than ever before. The number of Palestinian prisoners has doubled. The conditions in the prisons: Their water is cut off, their electricity is cut off, their clothes, their books, everything is taken away. They are not allowed visits, they are not allowed to watch television, they are not allowed to listen to the radio. They are completely separated from the world. And up to this day, if I’m not mistaken, at least five people have died in prison from torture. At one point there were more than 10,000 prisoners. Now you can’t count them exactly. Some of the imprisoned workers from Gaza have been let out, some of them are still there. The number will also increase because the arrests in the West Bank are extremely high. We don’t have an exact number. But there are more than 1000 prisoners in administrative detention. This is detention without trial. This instrument was inherited by the occupation from the British occupation. It allows the occupation to arrest any person at any time without reason and detain them in prison for an indefinite period of time.
Masar Badil is a movement that was founded in 2021. And Samidoun is part of this movement. Samidoun of course has a focus on the Palestinian prisoners, but is part of a larger project. Masar Badil’s main goal is to restore the role of the Palestinian diaspora in the Palestinian cause. Because especially after the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian diaspora was completely left out. And now, when we talk about Palestinians or Palestine, it’s West Bank and Gaza. These are the only people who can do anything for Palestine, and everyone else is just showing solidarity. In the 70s, the Palestinian revolution was abroad, it wasn’t in Palestine. And we believe that the Palestinian diaspora has an enormous role to play in the liberation of Palestine, and we are trying to strengthen this role again. And you do that by first rebuilding the tools of the Palestinian diaspora. There were several organizations, several trade unions, student organizations, etc. Through these, the Palestinians abroad organized themselves and these were completely destroyed after the Oslo Accords. We have to rebuild them first.
Even in this repressive atmosphere, despite all the tools that the state used, there were mass demonstrations in Berlin and in Düsseldorf, and beyond. The peoples of the world support Palestine. At the same time, all the political parties in Germany, Olaf Scholz had to attend and the embassy officials and who knows what diplomats all had to organize and invite to a rally in front of the Brandenburg Gate and invest tens of thousands of euros in it so that 5,000 people would come to support Israel and most of them are party members. It is obvious that the people of the world support Palestine. We see this in the streets of every city in the world. There are also mass demonstrations in Africa, in Mali, there are mass demonstrations in South Africa, in Niger, there are mass demonstrations in Bangladesh, in Nepal, in Peru. So it’s not just in the US and Canada and France and the UK, etc. There was actually a protest in Qatar even. Normally there is not this atmosphere where people take to the streets in the Gulf States.
But I think it’s very important to have a clear political line. The liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea is non-negotiable. This position must not be abandoned strategically. Supporting the resistance is more important now than it has been in the last 30 years. This means that we now need this clear position: the Palestinian resistance is legitimate, and the Palestinian resistance is the only thing that can defend the Palestinian people. And that is what we are seeing in Gaza today. The international community, the EU, the UN, even the Arab countries cannot defend the Palestinians. It is only the Palestinian resistance that can and will defend the Palestinians and that will liberate Palestine. It is extremely important to take this clear political position to the streets and not be intimidated.
The repression that we see in Germany today is of course directed against the entire pro-Palestinian movement. But especially against the part of the movement that very clearly stands for the liberation of Palestine and very clearly supports the resistance. While this part of the movement is being attacked, another wing of the movement is being strengthened. For example, they are now allowed to organize demonstrations and rallies where several thousand people go, but under the conditions of the state. They are no longer allowed to say “from the river to the sea”, they are no longer allowed to say that there is genocide in Gaza. They are no longer allowed to say “child murderer Israel”. The Palestinians who organize these demonstrations then do the work of the cops. They go to the demonstrators and force them to stop saying this and that because it would endanger the demonstration, it could be broken up. That is also extremely dangerous.
It’s much more important to have 1000 people on the street saying openly and clearly: we are for the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea, than to have 10,000 people saying nothing. Especially in this climate of repression, it is very, very important to show a clear position of support for Palestine. You must not look for an easy way out, not in the face of this repression. Because if you retreat, the repression will increase, if you take a step backwards, the state will push forward with all its strength. One must be absolutely steadfast. One isn’t doing anything wrong. It is simply a political position that is known throughout the world and supported by all nations. And you simply say that on the street. So you don’t do anything wrong you don’t cause any harm. You simply say what you think. And the state is not allowed to dictate that.
Even during this repression that we saw in Berlin, for example, and especially on the Sonnenallee, and these arrests and these physical attacks on people who weren’t doing anything, they were just on the street. This quasi military face of the state on the street,
where hundreds and thousands of cops were on the street 24/7.They inspected every person, everything was banned. Every sign of Palestine is perceived as a threat. Every person is suspicious. As a result, at some point people no longer accepted this. And they then took to the streets to fight for their rights. They simply confronted the cops. They defended themselves. These people were attacked for weeks and then came a day when they defended themselves. The Palestinians and Arabs and also the supporters of the Palestinian cause have definitely shown that they are much more advanced than any organization, than Samidoun, no matter who. They were ready to go into this confrontation and defend themselves. That is, without any political leadership and without any deep analysis.
For them, everything is extremely clear and even clearer than many organizations. What is happening in Palestine right now? Occupation, genocide; the liberation of Palestine is legitimate; resistance is legitimate. What Germany is doing is not acceptable. We do not accept that and we are defending ourselves. After that day, which was October 18, I think the state withdrew and suddenly allowed demonstrations and rallies. But outside of Sonnenallee, outside of this street where the extreme repression had taken place and this confrontation had taken place. They have allowed these events outside the street in order to say: “Hey, we’re not repressive, we allow demos, we have freedom of expression, we have freedom of assembly, but under our conditions”. But at the same time they want to prevent what happened on the 18th from happening again. Not on that street and not on other streets in Germany. Because it works. If the state is extremely repressive and people don’t accept this repression, then the state has to withdraw, because otherwise it won’t work. These people didn’t do anything wrong, they were simply on the street and they were attacked. One week after another and then at some point it was enough. And they said no, we’ll stay on the street. And if the cops attack us, we’ll defend ourselves.