This week I came across an event that I can’t stay indifferent about:
An Israeli guy is organizing this cultural Arabic event in Berlin:
and you may also be interested in looking at this event too: https://www.facebook.com/events/1639583686369554/)
Why? because he can, because it is Berlin, because Arab culture is profitable and trendy now, and because why not?
When I tried to explore more, I got the answer that he is a “leftist” Israeli who moved to live in Berlin.
So being a “leftist” – which I’m not sure what does that exactly mean- becomes a “ticket” for cultural appropriation, nice!
The only way I can think about it is that he left a colonialist state but did not leave the colonialist practices, under the subtext of being a leftist and he is now in Berlin where everyone should live in peace and forget about reality and politics.
Even though the intentions can be purely money making. I suggest we look deeper. In my opinion this is about colonialist practices moving with someone from a place to another, taking different shapes. To put it simple, for me, there is a mentality of “occupier” that stays in someone that has not fully rejected his supremacist privilege which he was granted by a system of colonialism. When he/she claims to be “leftist”, this mentality makes him/her believe that as a privileged (leftist), he can do whatever.
Secondly, the Israeli occupation has controlled all our spaces, including cultural spaces. So when you are in Berlin, you think that finally you can have a space away of this control/domination. But no, someone will make sure to intrude on these spaces.
Lastly, this is not only a cultural appropriation, but also a type of whitewashing. The image that many Israelis who move to Berlin try to create; of Israelis and Arabs getting along together and, hence, life is great, is exactly what an Israeli “leftist” should be avoiding doing.
I really hope people do not make it a superficial debate on “freedoms”. This guy is free to organize this event. I can’t prevent him and I won’t. But I can criticize his practice and call people to make conscious decisions when they decide to attend/not attend such events.
Berlin is not an utopian place. Berlin is a great and rich city of diversity. But it has lots of stories about refuge, lost homelands and lives. Those who have experienced these tragedies, would not want them to be whitewashed by a party.