Resolution of the General Assembly of PEN Berlin, 15 December 2023
Solidarity with Jews in Germany, Israel and everywhere
We, the General Assembly of PEN Berlin, stand together for the universal rights and freedom of all people. As democrats and as human beings we will not accept to be divided.
PEN Berlin dissociates itself from the position of PEN International on the terrorist attack of 7 October 2023, which in our view is not compatible with the values of PEN.
PEN International’s statement shows no empathy for the Israeli victims and finds the cause of Hamas’ actions not in its own political objectives, but in Israel’s policies. Since PEN International’s statements give the impression that it speaks for all its members instead of letting its members speak for themselves, we believe that a clarification is necessary. This comes very late, and we do apologize to all those affected, who rightly feel left alone.
PEN Berlin condemns the Islamist terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas and its allies. The attack was aimed at the state of Israel as a whole, which Hamas has declared it wants to destroy. It was aimed at Israel as a democracy. It was aimed at Israel as the state that stands for protecting Jews from persecution and extermination.
Und it was aimed at the Jews as Jews, as can be read in the Hamas charter.
Hatred of Jews was and has always been hatred of democracy, freedom, progress, tolerance and plurality. We stand on the side of Jews all over the world and thus on the side of Israel. We stand up against all anti-Semitism, be it our own, from the right, the left, the center, academia, the proletariat, Islamism, Christianity, etc.
Our concern and solidarity are with the people of Israel who have been injured, humiliated and killed by the anti-Semitic terror of Hamas, and all those who must continue to live with this threat. Israel is the state of the survivors of the Shoah and, like every state, has the right and duty to defend the lives of its citizens.
Our concern and solidarity are with the Palestinian civilians, including colleagues, who are defenselessly exposed to Israeli air and artillery attacks and are suffering and dying as a result of the current war. It is for the people in the Gaza Strip who have hardly any access to medical care, food and water. It is for the people who are suffering under the dictatorship and war strategy of the radical Islamist Hamas.
Our concern and solidarity are with the Jews in Germany who have to fear for their safety and who are exposed to anti-Semitic hostility and attacks. We stand by their side and stand up for them, their freedom and integrity.
Our concern and solidarity go out to all people who want to live in peace and freedom and who are currently increasingly exposed to racism and hostility. Although, no Muslim should have to justify the terror of Hamas, no Jew should have to justify those of the Israeli government.
PEN Berlin stands by the side of all those who hope and fight for a self-determined life in peace and freedom for all and everywhere. PEN Berlin stands for cultural diversity and is fully committed to artistic freedom and diversity of opinion. We stand for the free, fair, pluralistic, open exchange of different, even irreconcilable positions, which is the only way to live democracy. However, this freedom – like any freedom in a democracy – reaches its limits where it infringes the rights of others. There is no right to spread hatred and to call for violence.