Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg once again sparked outrage with a pro-Palestinian appearance. There was also harsh criticism from German Fridays for Future activists. In an interview with BR24, climate protection activist Carla Reemtsma explains why the movement works even without Greta Thunberg and draws red lines for the future.
BR24: How do you rate Greta Thunberg’s behavior?
Carla Reemtsma: Greta Thunberg hurts many people with her statements by not clearly identifying Jewish suffering. This harms many people and is not the position we represent as FFF in Germany. And we make it clear.
“Fridays for Future Germany defends itself”
BR24: There is a big divide regarding Israel between what is communicated on Fridays for Future International’s social media channels and what is communicated on Fridays for Future Germany. How do you deal with that?
Reemtsma: We have a very clear decision. As a movement, we oppose all anti-Semitism. We condemn Hamas terrorism in the strongest possible terms. And we stand for the protection of Jewish life, here and everywhere. That hasn’t changed in any way. Consequently, it is clear that we will draw conclusions. We are clear: Greta does not talk about Fridays for the Germany of the Future and she does not represent our position. Fridays for Future Germany defends itself, that is why we have assumed the consequences and suspended international processes. In the next step, we look at where there is a shared foundation of values that we can build on.
BR24: What do you mean by values foundation?
Reemtsma: Within our movement, which we defend as Fridays for Future, there is no place for anti-Semitism or any other discrimination.
BR24: But after the anti-Semitic statements, who are you talking to internationally?
Reemtsma: As a movement, we have very flexible structures, especially at the international level. And of course, that makes it a challenge. But we are clear that we will suspend our participation in these structures as long as there is no clarity about shared values. And discussions are currently taking place about it.
“Anti-Semitism has no place in the movement”
BR24: Did this split between Fridays for Future International and FFF Germany arise from the different reactions to the Hamas terrorist attack against Israel?
Reemtsma: For us as Fridays for Future Germany, as one of the groups of countries with very strong structures, it has always been clear – and this has been our self-image since 2019 – that anti-Semitism has no place in the movement. We also deal with this internally through trainings and workshops because we all grew up in a society that is structurally anti-Semitic and where conspiracy narratives have become even more important in the public space in recent years. Therefore, it was clear that on this occasion we would again adopt a very explicit position.
BR24: The FFF also posted a conspiracy theory on its international account. With a view to the war in the Middle East: “This is how the Western media brainwashes you.” Was that agreed with you?
Reemtsma: No. There are international Telegram groups that then use social media accounts. Before a post, not every country with a Fridays for Future group is asked, but if in doubt, here are some people who use the accounts.
BR24: If it turns out that there is no common base of values, how far will Fridays for Future International distance itself? Will Fridays for Future Germany then leave and change its name?
Reemtsma: Of course you do, what can that really look like? – something we are currently very busy with. And at the same time it is clear: what has priority now is solidarity with the Jews in Israel, in Germany and around the world and solidarity with all those affected. This is precisely the focus and heart of our work as a movement. Show solidarity and make our position clear again and again. Precisely because in Germany we are also experiencing that anti-Semitism is growing, that there are more anti-Semitic incidents and even attacks. That is why we make our position clear again and again, which also resonates in society.
“The movement has grown far beyond Greta”
BR24: Can Fridays for Future Germany continue as a movement without Greta Thunberg as a leading figure?
Reemtsma: In any case. Of course, Greta was the first point of contact for many people who joined FFF. In the last five years, the movement has grown far beyond Greta; hundreds of thousands have regularly protested with us. You are part of a large civil society movement for continued climate protection. That will not be lost. Precisely because our position is so clear and because we know where we stand, I am sure that we will continue to protest with many for this continued climate protection.
BR24: But as long as its name is Fridays for Future: people will not be able to differentiate where the anti-Semitic publication comes from, whether from FFF International or FFF Germany.
Reemtsma: In the conversations we already noticed that there are differences. Especially from Jewish communities, but also from other sectors of the public, people come up and say how good and important it is that our clear stance is and that we emphasize where we are, what we are doing and what problems we see. There is already a differentiated perception.