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Letter to the DAAD

by | April 23, 2024

Dear Prof. Dr. Joybrato Mukherjee,

I was deeply honoured to be awarded a residency fellowship for literature for 2024 by the DAAD, of which you are the president. It is with great regret that I must rescind my acceptance of this offer.

Since that invitation was extended to me, Israel commenced its onslaught on Gaza, which amounts to a plausible genocide, according to the International Court of Justice on 26 January 2024. This genocidal attack has also included what UN experts have called scholasticide, the ‘systemic obliteration of education through the arrest, detention or killing of teachers, students and staff and the destruction of educational infrastructure’. Writers and journalists, alongside healthcare workers and so many others, have not been spared. I have watched with horror as the political atmosphere in Germany has grown more and more poisonous, the repression of solidarity with Palestinians more and more brutal, the slandering of activists – including, of course, disproportionate numbers of Jewish activists – as ‘antisemites’ more and more outrageous. I had hoped to take part under the DAAD’s aegis not only in the cultural life of Berlin, a city I love, but in its political life too. But everyone has their red lines.

This week, I learnt of your personal part in the unconscionable withdrawing of the Albertus Magnus Professorship from Professor Nancy Fraser, in your role as rector of the University of Cologne, due to her signing a letter – along with over 400 other philosophers – in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the context of Israel’s ongoing massacres. This in the same month that the Berlin Palestine Congress was ruthlessly and abruptly shut down, peaceful activists arrested and speakers banned. I cannot accept the DAAD’s invitation when I can have no faith that the institution will stand against such a shameful program of repression and anti-Palestinian racism. Indeed, you have personally shown your willingness to be part of it.

As Jonas Staal puts it to you, ‘You are now part of a climate in which “never again” has become “yet again.”’ I am deeply grateful to Staal for his outstanding letter declining his own nomination, which I urge everyone to read, and to which I have little to add: it lays out in greater detail the reasons behind my own decision.

I stand in solidarity with the countless German workers and activists within institutions such as yours who are appalled by and fighting against the current climate of racism, censorship, rising authoritarianism and atrocity-denial.

Free Palestine.

China Miéville