Demonstration and counter-demonstration Bonn students set up pro-Palestine camp in the Hofgarten

Bonn · Pro-Palestinian students on one side, pro-Israeli students on the other: A camp has been built in the Hofgarten until 16 May to draw attention to the situation in the Gaza Strip. Counter-demonstrators show solidarity with Israel.

Demonstration and counter-demonstration : Bonn students set up pro-Palestine camp in the Hofgarten
Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

Under the slogan "Hofgarten against occupation", pro-Palestinian supporters have organised a demonstration on the edge of the Hofgarten meadow. They have been camping there with tents since Tuesday. According to Bonn police, the action has been registered for 50 to 100 participants until 16 May, i.e. next Thursday, and has been approved by the authorities. There were probably around 30 men and women on the first day towards the afternoon who had responded to the call from a Bonn group called "Students for Palestine". The banners on the tent camp - which read "Stop the genocide in Palestine", among other things - showed the political thrust, as did the communal shouts of "Freedom for Palestine". Little information was available on site. One young lady said that the participants came from the Bonn student community.

When asked about the group's specific concerns, she referred to the social network Instagram and the announcements there. There you can find a simple reference to the camp taking place and some demands to the University of Bonn. Apparently, the organisers feel that their alma mater's expressions of solidarity with the state of Israel go too far. The demands also included that the University of Bonn should break off contact with groups that, in the view of the Palestinian friends, cultivated a close relationship with the state of Israel.

The rally at the camp was not the only one that day. On the opposite side of the Hofgartenwiese, about as many students had gathered in the afternoon to show their solidarity with Israel as a counter-demonstration. The organiser and initiator was Tillmann Rami, a member of the Ring Christlich-Demokratischer Studenten, the university group of the CDU. Rami told the GA that, in addition to the RCDS, members of the Jewish University Group, the Liberal University Group and the German-Israeli Society were taking part in the counter-movement. "We speak out strongly against demands that the university should distance itself from Israel," said Rami. Pro-Palestinian protests at German universities are not yet as violent as what is happening in the USA. "But I do know students in Germany who are already afraid to openly admit their Jewish origins." That should not be the case.

The Jewish university community at Bonn University was represented at the Hofgarten by law student Alice Mader, a co-founder of "Fridays for Israel", as she said. The international protests in the USA and the Netherlands left their mark on her. "When our right to exist is taken away, it is an injustice," said Mader. Over the next few days, she said, they also wanted to demonstrate peacefully at the Hofgarten in favour of Israel's right to exist.

Original text: Philipp Königs

Translation: Mareike Graepel

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