Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has once again sparked outrage with her pro-Palestinian appearance. Harsh criticism also came 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 hurts a lot of people and is not the position we represent as FFF in Germany. And we made that clear.
“Fridays for Future Germany stands out”
BR24: There is a large gap regarding Israel between what is communicated on the social media channels of Fridays for Future International and what is communicated by Fridays for Future Germany. How do you handle it?
Reemtsma: We have a very clear decision. As a movement, we are against all anti-Semitism. We condemn Hamas terrorism in the strongest possible manner. And we stand for protecting Jewish life, here and everywhere. This has not changed in any way. As a result, it is clear that we will draw conclusions. For us it is clear: Greta does not speak for Fridays for Future Germany and she does not represent our position. Fridays for Future Germany defends itself, which is why we accepted the consequences and suspended international trials. In the next step, we will look at where there is a shared value base that we can build on.
BR24: What do you mean by value foundation?
Reemtsma: Within our movement, which we represent as Fridays for Future, there is no place for anti-Semitism or other discrimination.
BR24: But after the anti-Semitic statements, who do we talk to on an international level?
Reemtsma: As a movement we have very loose structures, especially at the international level. And obviously that makes it challenging. But it is clear to us that we will suspend our participation in these structures until there is clarity on shared values. And discussions about this are currently underway.
“Anti-Semitism has no place in the movement”
BR24: Did this division between Fridays for Future International and FFF Germany arise from the different reactions to the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel?
Reemtsma: For us Fridays for Future Germany, one of the national groups that has very strong structures, it has always been clear – and this is our self-image since 2019 – that anti-Semitism has no place in the movement. We also address this issue internally through training courses and workshops because we have all grown up in a society that is structurally anti-Semitic and where conspiracy narratives have become even more prominent in the public space in recent years. It was therefore clear that on this occasion too we would take a very explicit position.
BR24: The FFF also posted a conspiracy theory on its international account. Ahead of war in the Middle East: “This is how the Western media brainwashes you.” Did he agree with you?
Reemtsma: NO. There are international Telegram groups that therefore use social media accounts. Not all countries with a Fridays for Future group are queried before a post, but in case of doubt it is some people who use the accounts.
BR24: If it turns out that there is no common foundation of values, how far will Fridays for Future International go? Will Fridays for Future Germany leave and change its name?
Reemtsma: Of course it is: how can it really be? – something we are currently very busy with. And at the same time it is clear: the priority at this time is solidarity with the Jews in Israel, Germany and the world and sympathy for all those affected. This is at the very core and heart of our work as a movement. To show solidarity and make our position clear again and again. Precisely because we are experiencing that anti-Semitism is also growing in Germany, that there are more anti-Semitic incidents and even attacks. This is why we always make our position clear, which also finds resonance 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: Anyway. Of course, Greta was the first point of contact for many people who signed up for FFF. Over the past five years, the movement has grown far beyond Greta; hundreds of thousands of people protested with us regularly. You are part of a large civil society movement for coherent climate protection. This 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 consistent climate protection.
BR24: But as long as you call yourself Fridays for Future: people may not distinguish where the anti-Semitic post came from, whether from FFF International or FFF Germany.
Reemtsma: Already in conversations we notice that there are differences. Especially from the Jewish communities, but also from other sectors of the public, people come forward and say how good and important our clear position is and that we underline our position, what we are doing and what problems we see. A differentiated perception already exists.