Fromers Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, would best stay out of Germany. (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)


Germany bans former Greek finance chief Varoufakis over Palestine Congress event


Yanis Varoufakis, the hard-left former Greek Finance Minister, will no longer be allowed into Germany after he attended a controversial “Palestine Congress” in the German capital.

Germany’s interior ministry issued a “Betätigungsverbot“, or ban, against Varoufakis because he was set to speak at the Congress in Berlin, which started on April 12 and was due to run to April 14. The proscription also bars his taking part in any form of online participation or activity at political events in the country.

German authorities labelled the gathering, organised by the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25), as anti-Semitic and also banned others who were to take part.

DiEM25 is a pan-European political movement and political party founded in 2016 by Varoufakis and others.

Its core principles include social ecology, eco-feminism and post-growth – defined as a recognition that, on a planet of finite material resources, extractive economies and populations cannot grow infinitely.

It also embraces the similar ethos of post-capitalism alongside alter-globalisation, a social movement whose proponents support global co-operation and interaction but who oppose what they describe as the negative effects of economic globalisation.

In addition, the adoption of a universal basic income commands widespread support among DiEM25 members.

Referring to the barring of the Greek former minister and others, German media quoted security sources as saying: “In order to prevent anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda at the event, several travel bans have been imposed, including one against Varoufakis.”

The left-wing Jacobin magazine published the speech Varoufakis wanted to give. In it, he placed the cause of tensions between Jews and Palestines firmly with Israel.

Varoufakis warned of Germany being associated “with another genocide carried out in their name, with their complicity”.

Before the Congress began, accusations of anti-Semitism were already being made.

In response, Varoufakis said: “You accuse us of anti-Semitic hatred. We accuse you of being the anti-Semite’s best friend by equating the right of Israel to commit war crimes with the right of Israeli Jews to defend themselves.”

His intended speech went on to accuse Israel of committing “genocide”, “ethnic cleansing” and of being “an Apartheid state”, while highlighting what he called “legitimate resistance” to it.

“We accuse you of not recognising the duty of the people of Gaza to tear down the wall of the open prison they have been encased in for 80 years – and of equating this act of tearing down the wall of shame, which is no more defensible than the Berlin Wall was, with acts of terror.

“You accuse us of trivialising Hamas’ October 7 terror [attacks on Israel]. We accuse you of trivialising the 80 years of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the erection of an ironclad Apartheid system across Israel-Palestine,” he added.

Varoufakis further denied that Israel is involved in a just war because Hamas, according to him, “has no capacity whatsoever to defeat Israel’s military, or even to prevent Israel from continuing to implement the slow genocide of Palestinians under the system of Apartheid that has been erected with long-standing US and European Union support”.

“The Israeli State is stoking the fires of anti-Semitism and strengthening Palestinians and Israelis who just want to annihilate each other,” he stated.

Shortly after the Palestine Congress began on April 12, Berlin police abruptly stopped it and authorities extended the ban to April 13 and 14, the planned end of the event.

Around 250 visitors were forced to leave the gathering early.

According to a police spokeswoman, the law enforcement authorities extended the ban to completely end the Congress as “such anti-Semitic, violence-glorifying and Holocaust-denying speeches could be repeated at the event”.

The organisers held a press conference on April 13 stating that their democratic rights had been violated in what they described as a completely disproportionate decision.

On the evening of April 14, protesters attacked police and eight demonstrators were arrested.

The internal administration of the Berlin Senate claimed that the entities behind the Palestine Congress boycott Israel; some of these same groups also refuse to acknowledge the crimes carried out by Hamas and call terrorists “resistance fighters”, the Senate administration said.

One Senator added: “Our assessment in advance was confirmed that this is not about a critical discussion about Israeli policy but about networking and networking between anti-Israel and anti-Semitic individuals and groups,” calling the Congress a “shameful event”.

The speaker who likely triggered the fiercest reaction from the German Government was Abu Sitta, a London-based academic who has publicly referred to Jews as “ghetto-dwellers in Europe who came to take our land” and has compared Israel to Nazi Germany.

He has claimed that Israel “set up detention camps and forced labour camps for the Palestinians”.

German interior minister Nancy Faeser praised the police action in halting the event: “It is right and necessary for the Berlin police to crack down on the so-called Palestine Congress.

“We do not tolerate Islamist propaganda or hatred against Jews.”

A representative for the interior ministry emphasised that Faeser has already outlawed the terrorist groups Samidoun and Hamas.