Berlin will be on security alert Monday as the city awaits the official visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu. He is expected to head a ministerial delegation for talks on Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and members of her cabinet.
The festival expects to be stirred but not shaken. The heart of the festival at Potsdamer Platz is barely a mile away from the Reichstag, key ministries and the Chancellor’s offices. That means the possibility of temporary roadblocks and increased security service personnel on the city streets.
Public screenings at the Zoo Palast theater will continue, though the festival has avoided programming major premieres at the venue for the two days of the Netanyahu visit. “Since we had been informed in time about the visit we already took it in account when scheduling premieres. Therefore we don’t have to modify our planned programming,” the festival told Variety. “The films in the Zoo Palast will be screened as scheduled. But due to road closures we recommend to better use public transport. Subway would be best.”
The controversial Israeli leader is expected to stay at the Waldorf Astoria, one of the hotels used by wealthy visitors to Berlin, but not used directly by the festival.
“Protests are a certainty. He is here to stop the world from changing. That’s what he does,” one German festival delegate who requested anonymity told Variety.
Among Netanyahu’s recent proposals is an idea to surround Israel and its current borders with a security fence. That would be a curious echo of the Berlin Wall, which for 28 years divided East and West. Fragments of the wall and its former track can be seen running through Potsdamer Platz.