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September 18, 2023 66 mins

Shereen, James, and Robert are joined by visual artist and Anti-Zionist activist Adam Broomberg to talk about his experience growing up in apartheid South Africa, attending Zionist schools, and how German society is weaponizing antisemitism at an institutional level.

https://www.instagram.com/adambroomberg 

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Speaker 1 (00:05):
Hello everybody, and welcome to It could happen here. It's
Schreen and today I'm joined by James and Robert to
welcome our guest. In this episode, we are joined by
Adam Brumberg. He is an artist, an activist and an educator.
He was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. His

(00:25):
parents and his entire extended family are Holocaust survivors, and
he had a very Zionist upbringing. We talked to him
about how he grew up in apart Height, South Africa,
how he broke free from Zionism as a teenager, and
how he's come to be a very vocal Jewish anti Zionist.
He currently lives and works in Berlin, and he's exhibited

(00:45):
his art all over the world. He's also regularly on
the ground in Palestine and he uses his work to
raise awareness about the crimes committed daily by the IDF.
Members of the German government have accused him and labeled
him as being anti Semitic because of his criticism of Israel.
And we're going to get into all of it. I
wanted so just go back into your background a little bit.

(01:07):
Your family on both sides are Holocaust survivors and your
answertors like fled to South Africa and that's where you
grew up with your parents. And I read that you
went to as I in the school starting from age six.
Can you tell us about your family background and your
experience going to as I in a school as a
Jewish person.

Speaker 2 (01:26):
So you remember the podcast you did about Lithuania and
that particular character who was from the pale who had
to flee from the pogroms and all that stuff. So
basically this is part three.

Speaker 3 (01:45):
What he's talking about here is the Spanish Civil War,
specifically about an episode we did more than a year ago.
As many of thirty percent of the fallen volunteers who
fought in some units in Spain were Jewish. Some of them,
like I'll shake In, who have written about a lot,
had fled persecution in the pair of Settlement at a
very young age and arrived in the USA to relative safety.
But after a few years in the USA, they began

(02:07):
to he's a menace of anti Semitism spreading back towards
them through Nazi Germany and laid through fashed Italy, and
they decided to take up arms and stop it. When
it threatened to overwhelm Democratic Spain.

Speaker 2 (02:18):
Imagine that kid gets on a boat, and that kid
is my grandfather. My grandfather's name is Joshua, right, and
he's like a towering six foot three, beautiful man. He's
studying medicine. He's fleeing his mother. His family is not wealthy,

(02:42):
the programs are going on. He's studying medicine. Very bright guy,
but every cell in his body says, you've got to
get out of here. Also, also he gets this opportunity,
meets a woman called Dora Clatch girl, my grandmother, who's

(03:04):
like four foot two, right, but comes from a very
wealthy family in Lithuania. And it's kind of an arranged
set up, and I think Joshua is paid. Anyway, they
get on a boat bound for South Africa. Some landed

(03:27):
up in Scotland or oddly because the boat bound for America.
They would they would disembark most of the all of
the people on board and tell them they were in
America and then take a whole lot of other people
and then carry on to America so they could double
the fee by the way. But anyway, my so Joshua

(03:50):
and Dora land up on the boat and they land
in the port of Durban. It's around nineteen thirty three.
Oh wow, okay, and they speak mostly Yiddish. They've never
seen a black person in their life. They land up,

(04:13):
you know, on these foreign shows. My grandmother, I think,
headed towards Johannesburg, and this I got from my mother
on her deathbed. My mom passed away December seventeenth last year,
so it's like six seven months ago, and you know,
she'd like she did it magnificently and she managed to

(04:37):
like tell those last little bits of stories. And one
of those was that her mother, Dora, had had a
child who died at nine months old, and she was
Aknon in Johannesburg when the child died, and Joshua, her husband,

(04:59):
was still in the So you can imagine the kind
of the weirdness of that, right, I mean imagine your
imagine your the father of your child not not coming
to be with you when you lose your child. Coupled
with the fact that they had both lost I think Dora,

(05:21):
my grandmother, was one of eight or nine children. I
think only three survived the Holocaust and her parents were killed,
and the same with Joshua, so they lost all their
family and there they were at the bottom tip of Africa,

(05:43):
right without without any kind of orientation.

Speaker 1 (05:51):
Really, yeah, can you talk a little bit about you
mentioned how you describe it as bottom feeders. I listened
to another podcast you were on UH and you said
that they your family suddenly really enjoyed and appreciated the
change and status they had in society. Can you talk

(06:12):
about that a little bit.

Speaker 2 (06:14):
Well, yeah, so, you know, they got on the boat
as and their identity we were were they were Jews.
So they were expelled from Europe as Jews. The minute
they toes touched the land in Africa, their identity transformed

(06:34):
from being Jewish to being white, right right, just suddenly
they were they were identified as white people. Like the
word the word jew almost like just fell off, you know,
that that yellow star that they had to wear, it
just fell off. So suddenly they were like, oh my god,

(06:56):
they were like utterly privileged, powerful and and in control.
Right and with all of the with all of the
corruption that apartheid provided for the elite, for the white,
for the white supremacist, for the white the white people,

(07:21):
that the Jews who arrived were able to plug into
that privilege and there was about two hundred and fifty
three hundred thousand Jews who fled and arrived in South Africa.
So it was quite a big community and they did
ver fucking well. Let me tell you, and I can

(07:42):
tell you why. I can tell you because my father,
who just saw about three days ago what's left of him.
When he was active and like potent he was, he
was the top tax lawyer in South Africa, which means
that his clients, and those clients are people who walk

(08:06):
through my house. Came through my house in the seventies
and the eighties were probably the most hideous characters in history.
You know, we're talking soul Kurzner. Sol Curzner started something

(08:27):
called Sun's City and he exploited the buntus fand the
homeland system that apartheid built, and he built this casino
hotel resort called Sun's City.

Speaker 1 (08:42):
At this point in our conversation with Adam, we wanted
to ask about his personal journey into anti Zionism and
where it all began.

Speaker 3 (08:50):
So I think an interesting way to approach this end
would be like, obviously they found themselves and your parents
have found themselves in this country, which is systematically discriminating
against people, right, this is apartheid South Africa, and Jewish
people were at once active in the anti apartment movement,
and as you're saying, also active in the apartheid government

(09:13):
and the apartheid regime. And you found yourself, I guess,
going to this school which was explicitly Zionist. And I'm wondering,
at what point, And I suppose this involves seeing what's
happening where you are as well as what's happening in Palestine,
at what point did you make that connection and be

(09:37):
like her this this like what what? Because you're you're
a very explicitly anti Zionist, right, Like it's what was it?
Something you read, something you saw, like what caused you
to make that leap? And how was that received in
South Africa?

Speaker 2 (09:52):
So I think it's a mixture of things. I think
I've got three older siblings, so I'm the last born
by seven years. I've got a brother Paul, seven years older,
sister Man he was nine years older who lives in Israel,
and an old My oldest brother, Jonathan is ten years

(10:13):
older than me. Jonathan and Paul. Paul specifically was very
politically active, so he started an organization unlike Israel, so
that in South Africa the universities were like the bastions
of the anti apartype movement. Right, and he was in

(10:37):
a new sas National Union of South African Students, and
he started to think called the End Conscription Campaign, which
was to fight against forced conscription of white men who
were compulsory called up into the army at the age
of eighteen. And so given the fact that he was

(11:00):
seven years older when I hit about fourteen or fifteen,
at fifteen, I went on a thin called oh pun
which is kind of you've heard of birthright right or
pun is something. So I went to the Zionist Jewish
day school. So every day i'd go, I'd have to pray,

(11:21):
like go into the synagogue, pretend to pray for about
an hour, right, And I was looking at my school,
like my sister is like a gorgeous archivist, and she
made this little book called Adam's Life, and I was
looking at the school grades at the age of six,
and it was like Jewish studies and we know what
those Jewish studies were, right, So you walked into the

(11:44):
Jewish studies room and there was a little blue tint
which was the Jewish National Fund, and you would put
your spare change in there, and that money would go
towards making the desert bloom I say, in like work marks, right,
So that was that money would go to plants in
like two hundred and forty million pine trees in you know,

(12:07):
which I'm not indigenous in Israel. But just to swing back.
So at about fourteen or fifteen, what happened is, in
parallel I was being told on a daily basis two
things I was being told. Now, you've got to remember
this was the heights of also the Cold War. So
there were these proxy wars that were being fought all

(12:30):
around South Africa, in Angola, in Mozambique. So in Mozambique
you had fre Limo who were backed up by Cuba, Russia, right,
you had you had Rhanamo that were backed up by
America and South Africa, and they were running these kind
of gorilla bush wars, right. And many of my friends

(12:54):
who were called up in the military would be flown
into Angola or into Mozambik. We dropped there and you know,
they were told, look, if something happens, you weren't here,
Well you're not there, you know, We're not going to
come and find you.

Speaker 3 (13:12):
What I'm referring to here are the proxy conflicts throughout
Africa that saw national liberation movements, often supported by Cuba
and the USSR, fighting against various last class colonial regimes
and African anti communist groups. These groups are often supported
by the US under the guise of anti communism. These
wars include the Civil War in Angola, the Namibian War
of Independence, some of those, Ambiquean War of Independence, and

(13:34):
the zimbabwe War of Independence. You might know the last
one as a Rhodesian bush war, but Rhodesia doesn't exist anymore.
Living in the United States, it's easy to use the
phrase cold war as a conflict free standoff mediated by
nuclear powers chess something without acknowledging that in many parts
of the world, proxy wars in these post colonial states
and the conflicts of decolonialization throughout the late twentieth century

(13:58):
made that period anything but cold.

Speaker 2 (14:00):
The point is is that, so at the age of fourteen,
I'm going to these schools and I'm being told every
day that if apartheid ended, that would mean the end
of the white people in South Africa, right because we
were by far the minority. White people were by far

(14:22):
the minority, I don't know what it was, ten twelve percent,
And there was this kind of you could see the
fear because the walls started getting higher, the security gates
were built, the razor wire, the electric fences, you know,
it was it became more increasingly visible in the eighties,
the fear keeping apart tight, keeping people apart. So I

(14:49):
was told all the time, like if apartheid ended, that
would mean the end of white people. At the same time,
I was told, given that my community was like second
generation Holocaust surviving, you know, the notion of Israel as
a place of salvation, a place of when the ship

(15:12):
hits the fag, that's where we can go, right, and
that what we're always told that. And we were also
told daily this is a land without people, for a
pupil without land. That became a kind of mantra. Honestly,
it was like it was said to me over and

(15:33):
over again. Right. So, but when and what started happening
is I think that I became an activist at the
age of sixteen. There's an amazing she's now a dear
friend of mine. We've reconnected. She's a theater director called

(15:54):
yah el Faber, and we started an organization called Lin
the Age of sixteen, which was to educate white kids
about apartheid. And what we started to do was to
literally kind of break the apartheid wall. We'd start doing

(16:15):
visits into Souweta, we'd start doing visits into Alexandria township,
and we started forming friendships. And you know, most kids
just didn't go out of the suburbs. And suddenly we'd
go away on these weekends, like led by kind of

(16:37):
older activists, and we'd all hang in the same you know,
we'd all sleep in the same dormitories, and we'd start chatting,
chatting and smoking cigarettes together, and so like genuine just
basic childhood friendships started for me. And when that stuff
that profound very successful. Other ring that the propaganda of

(16:59):
apartheid succeeded in creating, you know, the black person as
the other, as the enemy, which it does in Israel,
right on the other side of the apartheid wall is
the worst enemy your imagination could possibly conjure, up right,

(17:19):
And it's exactly the same process. And suddenly, when I
kind of pierced that wall and that started falling apart,
then the kind of ideology around Israel and the notion
that Palestinians didn't exist. Suddenly they started to exist for

(17:42):
me somehow. And so it was about around the age
of sixteen, I'd say.

Speaker 3 (17:48):
And it was It's interesting that it was like through
your experience of living in an apartheid state that you
were able to, I think appreciate that, like that what
was happening to the Palestinian people was like another form
of settle colonialism.

Speaker 2 (18:01):
I mean, I think, yeah, like none of this, none
of this is intellectual. So I think like everything that
came to me or has driven to me is lucky
is through lived experience. It really is. So I think
it's like through these friendships that I realized and you know,
like touching, touching skin. And this is one of this

(18:24):
is the difference between a Partheit South African Apartheit Israel
Palestine is that we were segregated by law, you know,
I mean, mixed marriages were prohibited by law, sex was
prohibited between races. But the thing is that we were

(18:46):
mixed together because the labor force was needed, right, So,
like you know, the nineteen sixteen Tax Act forced a
lot of black migrant male workers into the cities to
work on the gold mines, which meant that there was
the presence of the other amongst us. And because there

(19:08):
was the presence of the other, the other, there was
also the desire and it is a sexual desire or
essential desire, and the smells, and we would touch each other,
and we would walk through the city and kind of
rub up against each other. Now, my nieces and nephews
having grown up the under under the inter father and

(19:30):
because of the Apartheid War, they've been deprived of that
sensual experience.

Speaker 1 (19:37):
Of the other in Palestine Israel.

Speaker 2 (19:39):
You mean in Palestine Israel. Yeah, so that you know
they've built they've built this twelve foot there's twelve foot,
seven hundred kilometer long concrete tsunami of a war that
divides people, which means that you know, until recently, nobody
uttered the word Palestinian because they didn't exist, right, And

(20:03):
so for my nieces and nephews, what was on the
other side of that wall was, like I said, their
worst the worst enemy that their imagination could conjure up.
And children's imaginations are amazing, right, And I did say
this a while back where where you know how for

(20:29):
cos spoke about he spoke about the structures that were
built around the plague, and after the plague ended, he
was still left with these structures. Right now, let's think
about the apartheid wall. You've got the seven hundred kilometers

(20:49):
a long, massive like concrete thing. It goes like five
meters underground. Yeah. Now, unlike for cose hypothesis that war
has created the plague, that war has created the enemy,
because what's on the other side of that wall, that's

(21:12):
only that's only accessible through these little checkpoints that are
manned by these you know, poor teenage like little foot
soldiers of the state. That's the that's the only way
to penetrate that war. So on the other side of

(21:34):
that wall is whatever you tell the people is there,
and and that's the that's the horror of that situation.

Speaker 1 (21:43):
I actually, I'm kind of glad you brought up the
plague idea because you mentioned that on a different podcast,
and I thought it was really like poetic to illustrate
that a plague can be constructed by the structure versus
actually the plague.

Speaker 4 (21:58):
And it's it's also kind of worth noting, you know,
as you were talking about the restrictions on interracial marriage,
in South Africa. Versions of that very much still exist
to this day in Israel, including heavy restrictions on inner
marriage between Israeli and Palestinian people. You know that that's
a bigger topic than I want to just kind of

(22:19):
casually get into it. Like there's a number of restrictions
that exist into the present day because like civil marriage
is not really a thing there as it is in
a lot of other countries.

Speaker 3 (22:31):
Yeah, so I wonder, like you said that Palestinian people
existed in your childhood only as this sort of construct, right,
this other construct and your experience of black people in
South Africa has shown you that those other constructs were
false and misleading and served perhaps an agenda when you

(22:51):
decided that, like your stance was anti Zionism, and then
you said to your I'm guessing, to your friends, your family,
to your fellow children at the school, like, hey, this
is fucked up here and this is fucked up there too.
How was the response.

Speaker 2 (23:09):
Well, it's like, you know, one doesn't come to these
decisions of a na and like announce it right, right.
So there's vague memories I have, Like, like I said,
I was on that all pun trip, which is like
this three week or three month trip. I mean they said,
like one hundred and fifteen year old kids, you live

(23:33):
in a in a building in Jerusalem, and it's basically
like this three month propaganda tour. Right, You're given a
Bible and you're told that that's your guidebook. Literally you
like you traverse, you traverse this place following the stories
of the Bible, and that's meant to be like your

(23:53):
holy land. But I did have one of the it's
called a Madrich, I think, a teacher. He was he
must have been eighteen or nineteen. He happened to be
kind of like a vaguely liberal Zionist. And I remember
clearly him taking me to an anti Kahani protest, so

(24:15):
there was still like Maya Kahane was alive, and we
know that Mayogahni. You know, the Corness movement, as you know,
was a kind of you know, they spawned the ben
Geviers and these fascists who are in power now, but
at the time they were deemed a terrorist organization by America.

(24:38):
And and I remember going to an anti Kahani protest,
So somehow that planted a little seed in me, and
I guess, you know, I think the anti Zionism came
afterwards because I was so focused on the anti apartheid

(24:59):
struggle because that's where I was and that's what I
was doing. And my university was either spent like running
battles with riot police or smoking weed. And I literally
went to about three classes. Honestly, I was definitely the
odd one out in my school. I mean, you know it,

(25:20):
being a Zionist Jewish die school. I'm still you know,
I'm still probably perceived as lack an absolute fucking avarration.
You know.

Speaker 1 (25:31):
Yeah, you did describe your mother in one podcast as
as diehard Zionist, and so I can only imagine. And
you you mentioned your nephew and her husband both were
in the IDF, so I can only imagine. I think
it's good to bring up that despite all of that,
you were able to like think deeply about it and
work your way out of that brainwashing. Essentially, before I

(25:52):
get too carried away, let's take our first break. We'll
be right back, b RB, and we're back. I want
to talk now about your experience in Germany and how

(26:12):
you experienced like state level accusations of being an anti
Semitic person even though you're just a vocal Jewish antixionist.
Can you talk about what led this person? I didn't
even though this person existed. Stefan Hensel, who is the
anti Semitism Commissioner of the City of Hamburg. That's a
position someone has, But what led him to call you?

(26:36):
These really atrocious things in so many newspapers and like
basically like justlist and libelist stuff.

Speaker 2 (26:44):
Okay, so check it out. So my mom dies seventeenth
of December. Yeah, I go away to a yoga retreat
where there's there's Lola coverage. I'm like, I'm offline. I
get back to and there's emails from like people are
ready trust you know, and and serious people in my

(27:07):
life saying, you know, dude, you've got to respond to
these allegations that are in like de zeight Billin and
zeol Tad's you know, basically every major newspaper in Germany
and social media all over the place, there's this character
like you said Stefan Hensel, who is the commission of

(27:30):
Antisemitism for the state of Bullin. Now eight of the
states of Germany have commissioners of antisemitism, right, none of
whom are Jewish, none of whom were elected. They kind
of semi it's it's super weird they are, it's semi legal.

(27:51):
I mean, like nobody knows that exists, nobody knows that,
nobody elects them. This character Stephan Hens, and I don't
want to pay too much attention to him because he's
just like a nebulous, Islamophobic pro Zionist, you know, bureaucrat.

(28:12):
But anyway, he does a series of interviews, and to
summarize the numerous interviews and his social media posts, I
am called, quote literally a hateful anti Seamite who advocates
for terrorism against Jews. Now this is two weeks after

(28:33):
bearing my Jewish mother, who was a second generation Holocaust survivor.
Now that is that definition of gaslighting right now, as
a white man, it's testimony to my privilege that I

(28:55):
haven't experienced gaslighting on a daily basis as most women do.
Certainly every Palestinian friend I have, they experience that every
minute of their lives because their very essence is illegal
being Palestinian. You know, the blood that runs with their
veins is illegal. They don't exist because they're Palestinian. Right,

(29:20):
But so I stand accused of these things, and I'm
like I'm god smacked. I'm like, and the reason is
is because I've been vocal about my support and solidarity
for Palestinian rights, and.

Speaker 1 (29:40):
It was particularly about your support for the BDS movement.

Speaker 2 (29:43):
Right exactly. So BDS, boycott, divestments, sanctions has become a
kind of it's like one of these terms that emerges
in the world. It's like terrorism or or on drugs
or what are the terms can we come up with?

(30:05):
You know, it's like it's one of these catchphrases and
it's like bids. Yeah, and it's like it's just like
people don't even associate it with boycott, divestment sanctions. If
you break it down, you know what ended apartheid in
South Africa? There was no there was no sudden moral awakening. Basically,

(30:28):
the Cold War ended. Reagan and Thatcher, who were total
supporters of apartheid South Africa, Suddenly the Cold War ended.
South Africa wasn't that important an asset and there was
international pressure and you know, more and more people started

(30:49):
to see what the atrocities that were going on, and
sanctions and divestments started to happen. Right, So polaroid become
BENI Polaroid I did a project about this was one
of the first companies that colluded with the South African
government but also divested when that when when they were exposed,

(31:13):
and that led to a number of banks divesting from
South Africa, so sanctions and investments, and essentially the South
African government in the late eighties was financially broke. So
they were forced to the negotiation table because they were broke,
not because they they they woke up one morning and said,

(31:38):
oh my god, we're we're oppressing the majority of black
people in this country and and you know, so it's
just like they were forced to and so so BDS,

(31:58):
which is a peaceful, non violent means of resistance that
that that started during the Second inter Father has become
one of these catchphrases. And I'll tell you a story.
And this all came to a head around last year's Documenta,

(32:20):
which happens in the city of Castle in Germany. Now,
document is a really interesting art event in the art
world calendar, and last year Documenta was that was a
very very interesting little theater play. So what happened during
Documentar last year is that there was a group of

(32:46):
Palestinian artists who were invited to show work, and their
space was invaded and there was graffiti was sprayed in
on the walls. There were two things were sprayed. One
was the number one eight seven and then the word perolta.

Speaker 1 (33:11):
Can you just explain what those both mean?

Speaker 2 (33:14):
I'm not exactly sure, but one eight seven I can
tell you, okay. And the reason I can tell you
is because one eight seven was spray painted outside my
front door, inside my apartment building. And one eight seven,
as any gang member in California will tell you, is

(33:36):
the Californian penal code for murder. And when you spray
one eight seven, it's a death threat.

Speaker 1 (33:44):
Oh my god, and so.

Speaker 2 (33:49):
And so. What the media did in Germany is said,
oh no, no, no, hang on, there's a hip hop
band in Hamburg called one a seventh.

Speaker 3 (34:02):
Okay where that came from?

Speaker 2 (34:04):
Wow?

Speaker 4 (34:05):
Yeah, I was going to mention that Sublime also has
a few songs with one eight seven.

Speaker 1 (34:12):
They were just Sublime fans graffiti.

Speaker 3 (34:15):
Yeah, that was a song. Riots there was a radical
branch of the Sublime Banklet.

Speaker 2 (34:23):
I mean, I'd love to hear his music, but I.

Speaker 3 (34:29):
Think you don't want any Sublime.

Speaker 2 (34:31):
No, no, I really do. After this, I'm going to
actually look and listen to. But so on the morning
when when so back to documenta. So they spray painted
the staff and and then there was a fural because
there was there was an Indonesian collective who did a

(34:56):
giant mural and one of the pieces that one of
the characters in this mural depicted an IDF soldier, an
Israeli defense for a soldier or an Israeli occupying for
a soldier as a pig. Right, policeman soldier as a pig.
I mean, that's an old troup. We've all done it, right,

(35:22):
you know, they're the pigs. Police are the pigs. But
there was an idea as a pig, and it was
and so it was deemed anti Semitic, and fair enough.
It's like it's Germany. It's an Israeli person in a
uniform depicted as a pig. It's tasteless, you know, it's tacky.

(35:44):
Immediately they kind of covered the mural up, right, but
bang the troops came in. The israel lobby, the Jewish
lobby came in. Boom, right, they seized the opportunity and
they hit and suddenly the word BDS came in, right,

(36:07):
and so the two curators from grown Rupa who were
amongst the collective who were curating that year's documentor were
visiting professors at the Art School in Hamburg, where I
had been a professor for the previous six years. Okay,

(36:33):
and Stefan Hensel like a little kind of surgeon. He
pinpointed these three little pernicious kind of pro Palestinian people
that were inside a German university, and he wanted to

(36:55):
remove them with his little tweezers. And and so he
grouped us together and he slammed the word anti Semitism.
He accused us of being anti Semitic, and so he
weaponized this word and this word like it's such an

(37:18):
interesting word, right, anti Semitism. It's like, so here you've
got a guy. Now he's never declared, and not not
that it's of any interest to me whether he's Jewish
or not. I mean, I don't think he has the
right to buy into my lineage of trauma. He doesn't

(37:44):
have that right. But he married a Jew. He named
his son, I think David or something. Right, these are
so there's all these kind of.

Speaker 1 (37:57):
Like gestures to make him see you like he's uh
has the ability to say these things.

Speaker 2 (38:06):
Not not a loophole as much as a kind of
as a kind of dress code. Right. It's like, my
son's called Yeah, my son's called David. I'm married to
a Jewish person. I've lived in Israel for six years.
I ran the Yidisha Gim, the Israelisha Germanisia organization, you know,

(38:28):
Israel German organization, which is like, you know, an Islamophobic
kind of weird or weird ass think tank. I don't
know what they do, right, but the point is, here's
this guy, and I bet you I would lay money
on it that his parents or his grandparents were perpetrators

(38:52):
during the Holocaust. And this is this is the way.
This is the psychological twist. This is like the beautiful
little that the mind does to get oneself out of
feeling shit about yourself.

Speaker 1 (39:14):
Yeah, I mean even attempting to remove those people from
their posts is like, that's a great example of Germany
using anti Semitism, like weaponizing it at an institutional level.
Like that's a that's really unfortunate. I want to I
do want to mention this really quick. In twenty nineteen,

(39:35):
Germany tried to make BDS a hate crime and even
though it was challenged and then it was found to
be unconstitutional. That like the fact that tenth was made.
From what I understand, there's still an attitude in Germany
about BDS being this illegal ish thing.

Speaker 2 (39:55):
Fair exactly. So it's like, you know, my father was
a law as I said, So I know the difference
between law and justice, and I know what a test
case means. So you bring something to trial means it
enters into the language of society, right, And when you

(40:20):
say is BDS anti semitic and you like test this thing,
suddenly there's this presumption and there is a presumption that
BDS is anti Semitic, And I can give you concrete
examples of how it's happened, how it's played out over
the last couple of years.

Speaker 1 (40:39):
Oh wait, I want James to mention you looked up
that word, right, James.

Speaker 3 (40:43):
Isabel Peralta. Yeah, I'm familiar with her, unfortunately, and I
think this kind of lines up with the sort of
she came on the scene in twenty twenty one that
I had been around doing antimptisms for a long time.
She is a self self described fascist in Spain. She's
part of a group or at the time was leading
a group called huvnor Patriiostrica, which is patriotic youth, and

(41:06):
like the speech that she's most famous for was delivered
at a commemoration for the Divisio on a Fool, which
is a blue division. They're the Francoist volunteers who fought
for Nazi Germany, which you know, if you're commemorating that,
you're kind of a piece of shit. And then she
went on to be a further piece of shit, I
suppose by like, she's very explicit in her antisemitism, right,

(41:28):
she doesn't do what a lot of these people do
and kind of veil it. She talks about Jewish people
as the eternal enemy. And it's worth pointing out that
in Spain, Spain has had what's largely called anti Semitism
without Jews, or sometimes called that because Spain conducted ethnic
cleansing or it conducted a literally they'll call it an
olympietha like a cleansing and a removal of Jewish people,

(41:50):
and Spanish Jewish population is still very small, and so
this sort of virulent anti Semitism that were seeing on
her behalf, it had impacts all around Europe, and she
was kind of the the most prominent and outspoken anti
Semite for a little while there.

Speaker 1 (42:07):
So that was the name they graffitied, along with one
of the seven.

Speaker 3 (42:12):
Yeah, I guess trying to tie this documenta to her
disgusting anti Semitic, which is entirely distinct things, right, Like
I think, as you were saying, and like that, by
by putting the two in the same phrase, we conflate
them when when they are entirely distinct things. And she,
I think all of us would agree, is a terrible

(42:34):
person views.

Speaker 2 (42:37):
But if we dig a little deeper, we get to
the core, which is why did the Nazis and the
Zionists collaborate in the nineteen thirties Because they had the
same desire they had. They wanted the same outcome. They

(42:58):
wanted the Jews out of Europe. They wanted them to
move to Palestine, right. Zionism was a European project started
in the early twentieth century in Vienna. They wanted their
Jewis out of Europe and into Palestine. The Zionists did,
so they collaborated, and I think, really, truly, I think

(43:25):
that we do face a real threat of real anti
Semitism in Germany. And I have two children. My daughter
is thirteen, her name is Lennie. My little boy is ten.
His name's Marlow. And if you look at the police

(43:48):
report of twenty twenty two that was released in Berlin,
there are multiple numerous incidents of visual and quite violent

(44:09):
incidents of real anti Semitism, right, And why are we
not addressing that because my kids are in danger? And
instead we have the Minister of Culture, whose name is

(44:29):
Claudia Roff. Stand up a couple of weeks ago on
a Friday night at the opening of Haka. There, you know,
a huge institution that my dear friend Bonaventour, who comes
from Cameroon is he's been made the head of this institution.

(44:52):
And it's a Friday night, and the whole is full
of people and it's glorious, a beautiful night. I mean,
you have diversity like you've never seen. This is like
queer diverse blackness, indigenous thought, it's queer thought. It's like

(45:16):
fucking peaches. Is there? Everyone's there, you know what I mean?
And Claudia Raff takes the stage, she takes the microphone,
and what does she say? She says in the silence
in the room, and she says BDS is anti Summitic.

(45:36):
Like what the fuck? Yeah, BDS is antisemitic. And I'll
tell you I love Boner. Now let me tell you
about Bonavento. Bonnac came from Cameroon thirteen years ago. He
has a PhD. His PhD is in biotechnology. He worked

(46:00):
all day building pacemakers while he set up a cultural
institution called Savvy Contemporary and Savvy represented the Bipop community
in Berlin and in Germany. Right, Bonner is a genius.

(46:21):
He deals with post colonialism like I mean, he's a maestro.
He's amazing what he has done. He's changed the landscape
of this country. He's brought colonialism into the into the
discourse of the country, into the culture. Right. But my

(46:45):
fear is is they've used him as a trojan horse,
and they've got the German States have got their fist
up his fucking ass. And that night when he it
was Bonner's night, it was the night of diversity. There

(47:06):
comes this pernicious minister of Culture and she stands up
and out of the blue, she says, b DS is
anti semitic. Bona because he's such a graceful, smart man,
and because he knows that we are fighting intersectional struggles

(47:29):
that happen at different velocities and happen at different speeds
and come at different angles. He came up on stage
and he said, we come in peace. It scares me, No, it's.

Speaker 1 (47:45):
I could only imagine what it was like to be
there a person. I mean, it sounds mortifying, especially if
you're Palestinian or Arab bird, just an anti Zionis in general.

(48:05):
I brought up a story here that I heard Adam
talk about on a different show, but future me is
recording this now because I wanted you to have some
more context to the story so you can really grasp
the irony of it all. It's a great example of
the divide and intensity that happens, or that can happen
with anti Zionists and Zionists within the Jewish community itself.

(48:26):
Adam said that some of the people who he had
assumed were friends and allies have disappeared, which is one
of the prices you pay for criticizing Israel. Adam had
been spending more time in Hebron, what he described as
a wasteland. He said in the previous interview that you
spend ten minutes at Hebron and you get the notion
of apartheid, occupation and Jewish supremacy. You get it, and

(48:50):
no one has to utter the words. Adam has documented
violence in places like maximum security jails Afghanistan two thousand
and three, Iraq two thousand and five, but he said
that two times he's felt the most existentially and physically
a threat of death. One of those times was last
year when he was in Hebron and him and his
team went to take photos of olive trees. Olive trees

(49:14):
in that area can be two thousand to four thousand
years old, and since nineteen sixty seven, Israeli settlers have
destroyed one million of these trees. I have an episode
about this and the significance of the Palestine olive tree,
about how it's not only an immensely important crop but
also a symbol of Palestinian culture and resistance. I talk

(49:35):
about this in that episode as well, But it bears
repeating that destroying olive trees is one of the most
clear examples that Zionism isn't about wanting to return to
a sacred land that is destined to you. Instead, Zionism
is hateful and inexcusable. Adam shares this sentiment, which I appreciate,
and I really loved learning about his work with olive trees.

(49:58):
I just don't think Zionists have any kind of rebuttal
or reasoning to support why the hell they keep destroying
olive trees decade after decade, Like in what universe can
you say and believe that you have a genuine attachment
to that land, a biblical right to that land? Like
how could you say that you love that land as
a sacred space, but then also go and destroy what

(50:21):
Adam describes as its quote oldest indigenous citizens, aka the
olive trees. That's not a person who loves that land
that it's a person who was driven by hate. So
Adam is working to preserve and protect these trees. Settlers
pour gasoline down the center of the tree trunk, so
by the time you see smoke, a tree is already dead.

(50:44):
He was there and have run with a camera taking
photos of the trees. And then Jewish settlers sent these
packs of kids that he said were ages five to seventeen,
dressed in full religious garb, accompanied by the Israeli military.
Adam and his crew kept getting attacked by these kids
as the military stood by, but he explained that you
can't lift a finger to defend yourself because these kids

(51:05):
are miners. Adam talked about this and said, if I
was Palestinian and I pushed back, I would be shot
on the spot. The fact that I'm Jewish, I would
just be removed and the work would simply be over.
So he got beaten pretty badly several times, and apparently
there's footage of it somewhere, and his experience and have
brown again is one of those two times that he's

(51:27):
felt the most existentially and physically at the threat of death.
The second time happened a few days later, which is
the story I briefly mentioned to him in the recording
that we did that I want to talk about more here.
So a few days after that incident, Adam returned to
Berlin and it happened to be the anniversary of krystel
Nacht or the Night of Broken Glass, which is widely

(51:50):
known as the beginning of the Holocaust. It's also called
the November Pogrom, and it was a pogrom against Jews
carried out by the Nazi Party with some particition patient
from the Hitler youth and German civilians throughout Nazi Germany
on the ninth and tenth of November in nineteen thirty eight.
The German authorities looked on as this happened without intervening.

(52:13):
The name Krystelnacht is literally translated to crystal Knight, and
this name comes from the shards of broken glass that
littered the streets after the windows of Jewish owned stores, buildings,
and synagogues were smashed. So back to Adam's story, a
memorial for krystel Noacht is held at the sight of
the two old synagogues that had been burned down in Germany.

(52:36):
Adam arrived there with a crew holding signs that said
Jews against Fascism everywhere. He's surrounded by fellow Jewish people,
and this big guy comes up to Adam, and Adam
describes this guy as being much bigger and much taller
than him. And so this big guy looks down at
Adam and he says, get rid of those signs. Who
gave you the right to be here? Adam responded, quote

(53:01):
the death of ninety percent of my family. What troubles
you about the sign? Are you anti Semitic? Are you fascist?
Are you bothered by the word everywhere. Have you got
this weird synesthesia thing where you see the word everywhere
and you see Israel. Do you think I'm implying that
there's a possibility that Israel could have fascist traits? In

(53:22):
response to this, this big guy starts attacking Adam. So
Adam ran absolutely terrified. He ran and sought protection from
the German police. The irony of a Jewish person feeling
his life threatened by another Jewish person and then seeking
refuge from the German police. Adam says this was the

(53:45):
most surreal moment of his life.

Speaker 2 (53:48):
So so ironic. But let me flip that story on
its head, right, And now, okay, So it's nineteen eighty
eight and I am on the front page of a
new paper and I get home to my mother and
she's furious. She's fucking furious because there I am on
the front page of the newspaper. And I'm hold, I'm there,

(54:12):
my face is there, and I'm holding up a flower,
and in front of me is a is a South
African riot policeman. Right. And it was one of the
demonstrations I was at at the age of eighteen, on
the campus at Vitsa University. All Right, and I got
into ship from my mother, who said, what the fuck

(54:33):
are you doing standing in front of the riot police.
I got into ship from a black student society, because we,
as white students, took orders from a black student society.
He said, what are you doing holding a flower to
the fucking pig doing it like this? This is not
the nineteen sixties. We're fighting a struggle. So I got
in ship from both sides. Right now, cut to May,

(54:58):
a few months ago, I mean Iranian Platz, there is
a commemoration organized for the ongoing Knakba. All right, we
know what the Knuckba is, the catastrophe, right, so in
nineteen we don't have to explain that. But all for
two the year before that, all commemorations for the knackbar

(55:20):
were banned. And in May, the commemorations for the Knackbar
organized by Palestinian groups were banned. So Yidish Stima, which
means Jewish voices the organization they organized a commemoration and
we gathered together on a beautiful Sunday morning, and you know,

(55:42):
it was really lovely, and there were kids there, there
were old people. It was great, and we were all
all gathered together there and we gave the platform to
some Palestinian voices who were just speaking about freedom from
the river to the sea, you know, And suddenly the
riot police came boom, boom, boom, you know. Lines of

(56:05):
them intercepted us. And I was faced again at the
age of fifty two, not eighteen, So flipped from nineteen
eighty eight to twenty twenty three, and I'm facing eye
to eye with the fucking white riot policeman and it

(56:25):
was the same riot policeman. And you know what I
said to him. I said to him, where was your
grandmother during the war? And he didn't answer me, and
I said, do you know where my grandmother was? And
he said, I don't care, At which point I turned

(56:46):
around and two or three, and there's there's footage of
this from every single angle. Two or three of these
right policemen jumped on top of me, brutally beat me
and arrested me, handcuffed me. They handcuffed me so tightly
that they had to call the fucking fire brigade to

(57:08):
cut the handcuffs off me. And hang on, it gets worse.
Then an hour later, I'm on the front page of
the Berlin Zetel. There I am being marched off by
German police, right police. And you know what, the headline says,
one hundred anti Semitic Palestinian protesters disrupt Jewish memorial. Check

(57:35):
it out. Check it out, and you know what, I
think it's still up there. Yeah, Okay, this is where
we're at. This is where we're at in this country. Like,
forget fact checking. This is not a Palestinian. I'm a
fucking Jew. You've arrested a fucking third generation Holocaust surviving Jew,

(57:59):
You mother fucking Nazi. And they tell me de Nazification
never happened in this country. There's no such thing as
neo Nazis. They're Nazis man And this Stefan Henzel, he
wants the Jews out of Germany. That's what's underneath all
of the shit, right, because if they were worried about antisemitism,

(58:24):
let's talk about antisemitism, okay, because I've got kids and
they need to be safe.

Speaker 3 (58:30):
Yeah.

Speaker 4 (58:31):
I mean, I was reading the other day a news
article from I think fifty one or fifty two that
was about one of the god Now I was facing
ot his name, but he was he was a Wehrmacht
general who was you know, commanded troops on the Ast Front,
survived the war and later got into German politics. And
it was just a it was an article about one
of his political rallies where protesters were like broken up

(58:55):
and beaten up by German police officers. And it's kind
of this the same, like, yeah, what were your what
was your family doing during those twelve years? You know,
like it's it's really it's a question you can ask,
but it's rarely really a question, right right, Yeah, Like
there was never any that's such an important point, you know,

(59:16):
particularly when we talk about like why there is you know,
such what you can call technically support for Israel that's rooted,
as you noted, often in just getting Jewish people out
of Germany. Like there was never any kind of real denatification.

Speaker 3 (59:31):
No, yeah, no, no, no systemic level.

Speaker 2 (59:33):
This is all about white supremacy man. Because I'll tell
you what, and this goes deeper. On the fifteenth of July,
they made a law in Berlin that all public swimming pools.
They claim that there was a rise in violence in
public swimming pools in Berlin. Okay, particularly in Nikol and Kreutzberg, which,

(59:59):
as we know, other areas of like migrants, particularly Palestinian
Middle Eastern migrants. Right. And in fact, if you look
at the statistics from twenty nineteen to two twenty twenty two,
violence has gone down by twenty one or twenty three percent,

(01:00:21):
I can't remember correctly, so that's incorrect. But now we
have a state a position where at the entrance of
every swimming pool there is a police fan and they
are ethnically and racially profiling people who come into swimming pools. Right,

(01:00:43):
And there is basically a law that says that there
shall not be more than three men read three men
of color in a public swimming pool. Okay, And this
this is where we're heading. Felix Klein, who's the Federal
Commission of Anti Semitism, Stefan Henzel, who's the Hamburg one,

(01:01:08):
these people that the mayor of Berlin. On Pentecost night,
he tweeted, check out check out his tweet. He tweeted something.
It went like this, It said, we wish everybody a
happy Pentecost, and we wish our guests a lovely time.

(01:01:29):
Our guests. This is like, dude, I mean, you know Christian,
it's grim It's fucking grim man. And you know these
people want a white they want a white Aryan Christian
fucking country. They want the dark people out.

Speaker 1 (01:01:50):
I mean that's a huge part that people don't realize
is that Zionism is mostly white supremacy and mostly very
anti anti Jewish, because that's advocates for just like the
expulsion of the Jews.

Speaker 2 (01:02:03):
Again, well, it's a fucking mental illness, is what it is.

Speaker 1 (01:02:08):
I don't disagree with you.

Speaker 3 (01:02:11):
I just wanted to reflect, like maybe as we as
we end up on how far the needle has swung
when we talk about like anti Semitism, anti Zionism, and
sort of where they because they do have a lap, yeah,
but they don't know they are not the same thing.
And I think about how there's this letter that is
the New York Times published like it was in the
late nineteen forties forty eight, forty nine. It co signed

(01:02:33):
by a lot of prominent Jewish intellectuals, including Hannah Rent
Albert Einstein, talking about the settler policies in Israel at
that time by Zionist groups at that time as fascist,
which is something that would now be considered to be
like antisemit, Like that's calling Israel fascist? Was what got

(01:02:53):
you chased at him by that guy. It's considered to
be anti Semitic in Germany, right, Like these are people
who you know, had lost family members. You know, they
can the nuclear family to the Holocaust, like prominent Jewish
intellectuals who would now be considered I guess anti semitic
under this by saying sit New York Times would publish

(01:03:14):
and the Times wouldn't publish that now.

Speaker 2 (01:03:17):
Yeah, you know a few of us got together in
Oranian pluts in a place where we were arrested in
May a few like Jewish friends of mine, like some
from Brooklyn, some from Israel, some from here. And you know,
five nights ago, a young Palesinian man was arrested by

(01:03:37):
twelve Israeli policemen and they branded a they cut with
a knife the Star of David into his chield. Yeah,
and there's footage of this and they literally cut the
Star of David into his cheek. And we wore red

(01:03:59):
Stars of David at the schedule tonight, And it just
strikes me as ironic. You know, like eighty years ago,
my ancestors were forced to wear a yellow star as
a lapel on their armband or stuck to their jackets
to shame them, to declare them as Jews, as dirty

(01:04:22):
Jews in public. And now I feel like I've got
to wear this red star because of our collective shame,
because of what's being done in our name by the
State of Israel and by Zionism. And this is not
allowed to be done in my name. Really, that's sorry

(01:04:47):
to be so grim?

Speaker 1 (01:04:48):
Fuck No, I mean, if there is ever an ending story, yeah, yeah,
it's a grim story, but I think it's a great
place to end. There's still so much I want to
ask you. I would love to know your thoughts about
like liberal Zionism, but that's gonna have to wait for
next time. Thank you for giving us time in the
middle or the early mornings.

Speaker 2 (01:05:06):
Thank you so much of course.

Speaker 3 (01:05:08):
Yeah, Adam, where can people find you online and help
support the advocacy you're doing.

Speaker 2 (01:05:13):
Mostly I'm a bit of a geriatric, so I'm just
on Instagram.

Speaker 1 (01:05:18):
Adam Broomberg put it in the description for anyone that
is curious. Thank you for doing your work. Everyone go
follow Adam, make sure everyone doesn't. Just let's let's protect Adam.
Let's protect Adam and his family out there.

Speaker 2 (01:05:34):
But thank you again, Thank you guys.

Speaker 3 (01:05:37):
Yeah, thank you, Thank you, Adam really appreciate me.

Speaker 1 (01:05:40):
And that's the episode. It Could Happen Here as a
production of cool Zone Media. For more podcasts from cool
Zone Media, visit our website cool zonemedia dot com or
check us out on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or
wherever you listen to podcasts. You can find sources for
It Could Happen Here, updated monthly at coolzonemedia dot com

(01:06:02):
slash sources. Thanks for listening.

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