Discover more from 20 Percent Berlin
#222: Middle East in Berlin, doc on trial, refugee homes on Tempelhof
Pergamon Museum closing til 2037
Dear 20 Percent
Chancellor Scholz visits Israel today but the war between Israel and Hamas is also affecting life here in Berlin in myriad ways.
Nearly all pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been banned because police consider them a threat to the public order. Several protests have happened anyway. On Saturday, pro-Palestinian groups threw fire crackers at cops during a series of smaller protests in Neukölln.
On Sunday, 800 police officers spent hours breaking up a banned pro-Palestinian demonstration on Potsdamer Platz. A police spokesman said the demo was originally registered as a vigil with 50 participants but over 1,000 people showed up and the gathering morphed into an un-sanctioned street protest. Some demonstrators shouted slogans “questioning the existence of Israel as a state”, according to the cops. In Germany this is considered reason enough to ban or shut down such an event. Objects were thrown at the police, causing injuries. Dozens were arrested.
Anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli graffiti has been appearing acrioss the city. Stars of David have been sprayed on the doors of Jewish homes — some commentators said this recalled Germany’s darkest hour, when Jews were forced to wear yellow stars. Israeli flags have been burned in several locations. In Kreuzberg, people who had taken part in a banned demo allegedly kicked and spat on the window of a Jewish restaurant in Stresemanstraße. Police protection has been increased to cover 400 Jewish and Israeli institutions in the city.
There have also been Islamophobic incidents. In Spandau, a 15-year-old girl was assaulted by a man yelling anti-Muslim slurs. The man pushed and kicked her, then ripped off her headscarf.
Meanwhile, there was fierce comment-combat on X over a video in which a woman on Hermannplatz who held a sign saying she was a Jewish Israeli and condemned Israeli military strikes against civilians in Gaza was detained briefly by police.
Isolated instances of violence have been reported in Berlin’s schools, prompting the education department to grant school principles the authority to ban Palestinian symbols such as flags and keffiyeh scarfs.
Though none of this remotely compares to the horrors civilians in Israel and Gaza have gone through, these are tense times for the city — enmeshed as it is with the Middle East through personal ties to both Israel and the Palestinian territories.
More news below.
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More refugee housing on Tempelhof?
Berlin’s CDU-SPD government wants to amend the city’s “Tempelhof Law” to permit construction of more refugee accomodation on the former airfield, reports Tagesspiegel (paywall). The coalition says new housing is needed to cope with the constant stream of refugees and asylum seekers into the city. Refugee housing units were built on the field in 2016, but the legal framework for that project expires in 2025. The new “temporary housing” will take up under 4% of the park’s surface area. The refugee housing plan is a seperate issue from the government’s plan for a new referendum on opening up parts of Tempelhof to residential housing.
Polish citizens queued outside the embassay on Unter den Linden Sunday to vote in their country’s parliamentary elections. It looks like the populist Law and Justice party (PiS) has been ousted by Donald Tusk’s liberal opposition. The Polish community in Berlin is relieved, reports Berliner Zeitung.
Doctor in overdose trial
The trial of a former cardiologist at Charité hospital begins today. The 54-year-old was charged with two counts of homicide following the deaths of two 73-year-old patients the doc allegedly gave an overdose of sedatives. A 39-year-old female nurse is also being prosecuted. Both defendents could face a lifelong ban from practicing their professions if found guilty.
The (coffee) resistance
You gotta love Berlin: While world events are having a real impact on our streets, at least one Berliner has chosen to express his or her hyperlocal grievance through anonymous protest. Someone has been leaving flyers complaining about the high coffee prices at the cafe in the Berliner Staatsbibliothek (state library) on Unter den Linden. Apparently, paying €3 for a cappuccino in a public facility such as a city library is beyond the pale. The fact that the cafe is run by an external businessperson who has their own bills to pay doesn’t seem to have crossed the protester’s mind.
I like this start-up because it sounds like the way Germans say “lunch”. Also, it’s funded by footballer Mario Götze, who’s become quite the venture capitalist. But what is Lanch? According to Tech.eu, Lanch has just raised €6.5m in fresh cash to help them fulfill their mission of building food delivery businesses “built with your fav creators”. Who knows what this really means, but I’m pretty sure it’s trying to help German influencers set up their own versions of Youtuber Mr. Beast’s burger empire.
On October 23, the Pergamon Museum will close for renovations— for 14 years! As you can imagine, right now there’s a veritable onslaught of people trying to see the ancient treasures nabbed from the Middle East and elsewhere, such as the 2nd-century Market Gate of Miletus (photo), discovered by German archaeologists in modern-day Turkey. Construction of the museum began in 1910, but it didn’t open until 1930.
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