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Ilka Schröder


Titel | Denkpause 18 | 22.04.02
The grandchildren carry on

German soldiers against Israel?

There is hardly any resistance against the EU’s forming of a military intervention unit for the Middle East. The European Parliament (EP) has already requested the Member States to present their possible contributions to such a deployment. If the EP has its way, the Association Agreement between the EU and Israel will be suspended, while payments and political support for Palestinians will be increased.

European politics and the media blame Israel only for the escalation. It would have been impossible to even consider an EU military intervention, had there been »only« the organised Palestinian suicide bombers who murder Israelis. For many European actors, war seems to start only when the State of Israel takes action to protect its citizens against terror.
It is hardly disputable that so far every army in every war has harmed innocents and less guilty ones. In comparison to the war strategies of other states, however, the Israeli modus operandi in the Palestinian territories does not stand out; neither in one way, nor in the other. The sharp condemnation of Israel shows which side European politicians and the public alike position themselves on.
It is not difficult to conceive how the EU itself would have reacted if it were affected by such assassinations and the authorities in the terrorists’ areas of origin were promoting these assassinations instead of preventing them: The bomb workshops would certainly have been attacked with air strikes, thereby minimising the number of victims on the side of the attackers, while enabling the dead on the adversary side to be booked as collateral damage. Such a strategy produces hardly any pictures for the media, except for a few nocturnal flashing TV shots. Hardly any journalist would film the air raids and their victims on the ground - the risk of becoming a victim oneself would be too great.
The notion of a »violence spiral« has become a mantra for some - the Berlin anti-militarist info centre informationsstelle militarisierung repeats the old slogan »violence produces counter violence, that is an old terrible logic«. It is however insufficient for a deepened analysis of the Middle East conflict. Israel has always been militarily threatened by its neighbouring states, also - and in particular so - when it was not using any force itself. If Israel had lost even one war in its history, it would not exist today. While the peace movement may be given credit for good intentions, the EU, which is becoming more and more militaristic, must be criticised more sharply for the ideas that hide behind a similar rhetoric. The EU links the demand for an Israeli retreat from Palestinian areas including Ramallah to the threat of sending intervention troops. The EU verbally condemns Palestinian suicide attacks - but it condemns their continuation and intensification only as a consequence of Israeli policy. There would only be security for Israel in exchange for territorial concessions, Arab states, the EU, the UN and others have been declaring for years now. However, the fulfilment of territorial demands has proved to be harmful for the Israeli government. When Israel implemented the demands of UN resolution 425 to a withdrawal from South Lebanon in January 2001; still the Hisbollah attacks did not stop. For the European Parliament, however, the Hisbollah attacks against Israel, which are supported by Syria and Iran, do not seem to be worth a mention. Again and again, Palestinian terror has struck exactly when it was time to torpedo a reconciliation attempt: Marvan Barghouti is the head of the Tanzim militia in Ramallah and the Al Aksha Brigades, and in addition he is a powerful man of Arafat’s Fatah Party. Barghouti told Israeli TV Channel Two that an attack in Jerusalem, which caused three dead Israelis and hurt 70, was by no means revenge against Israel or legitimate resistance against the occupiers. It was an answer to the U.S. government’s and General Zinni’s plans to impose an armistice on the Palestinians (n-tv 21.+22.03.2002).
Another suicide attack, which killed eleven Israelis in the Jerusalem »Café Moment« on the 9th of March, was accurately aimed at a rather progressive, secular segment of Israeli society, where an exceptionally large proportion of people would consider themselves close to the peace movement (Jungle World, 20.03.2002).
Hardly a week has passed in Israel during the last few months without Palestinian suicide bombers murdering or mutilating people. Israelis have to ask themselves daily whether they will return home alive if they go out. If the quantity of dead victims is seen in relation to the total population of Israel and the USA, the victim numbers are quite comparable to the attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
Some Germans and Europeans now state that Israel got itself into this situation. Ariel Sharon is a rabble rouser, some say; he would announce »Total War«, the Berliner Zeitung writes in its headline - in a translation that is not only biased, but simply wrong. Israeli policy is »fascist«, a visitor of my Homepage writes in an email, and top German Christian Democrat Party Member Norbert Bluem talks of a »war of extermination«. Members of a German-Jewish youth organisation, who on the occasion of the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust read out the names of 55.000 murdered Berlin Jews on that city’s Wittenbergplatz, are foul-mouthed by German activist citizens: Why would they not read out the names of dead Palestinians, instead of still remembering the victims of nazism. A few weeks earlier an Israeli flag smeared with a swastika had been burned at almost exactly the same place during a demonstration, under the eyes of the German police and while bystanders were cheering. Demonstrators included by no means only Arabs or German Nazis; a Berlin official of the ATTAC network had also called on people to participate. The anti-globalisation activists did not draw any consequences form the anti-Semitic actions. The ATTAC women’s department called to a second demo some weeks later, and again Israeli flags were burned, Ariel Sharon was characterised as a fascist, and there were »We don’t want any Jewish pigs« chants.
The re-interpretation of German history by the red-green Government and its civil society reinforcements shows its results, both in the way Germans deal with the holocaust as in the position Germany takes towards Israel. Auschwitz had already been reinterpreted into a positive locational factor for Germany’s first aggression war after 1945, the war against Yugoslavia. From then on, the Nazis’ campaign of destruction and extermination urged no more for German military abstinence, for example regarding former Nazi opponents such as Serbia. Instead, German past became a stimulus to become militarily active anywhere in the world, in order to prevent offences against human rights, which Germany defines in the Nazi’s voelkisch tradition. Additionally this propaganda allowed the eradication of the singularity of the holocaust from collective memory.
The Christian Democrat defence politician Paul Breuer also pursues the argumentation pattern of a location advantage resulting from the holocaust. Breuer has in principle no objections against a German Federal Armed Forces employment in the Middle East, reports Berliner Zeitung on April 10th, 2002: »In a historical perspective« a deployment was »rather an obligation«. Der Spiegel - title storys and a book by Guenter Grass first redefine the Germans from originators of the Nazi terror to its victims, in order to transform the Jews from being victims into being culprits.
There was a good reason for the Jews to look for protection against anti-Semitism, which is particularly strong in Germany, but exists also in other EU countries. It would have probably been historically more suitable to de-populate the Ruhr district and the Rhine/Main/Neckar area or even the whole of Germany and to put it at the disposal of a - well-armed - Israeli state. This did not happen; the sole advantage of which might be that it saved the world from some more Grass and (Der Spiegel publisher) Augstein publications on German suffering. Palestinians get a higher per capita amount of German development aid than any other recipient area. Additional millions of Euros go there from EU cashier’s offices, and during the last few weeks further promises were made.
Germany paid seven and a half million Euro for the runway illumination and electronic equipment of the Gaza airport; the EU financed the 3.3 million-Euro building of the Palestinian radio station, which was used for anti-Jewish smear campaigns and goading into murder. Both the runway and the radio buildings were destroyed in the course of the Israeli fight against terror. Now the EU wants to calculate the extent of the destruction »down to the last Euro cent«, as Gunnar von Wiegand, speaker of the EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten, said. Such a listing of destroyed EU projects could be useful, if it were understood as self-knowledge, if it were a change for the better on the side of the EU. But, on the 29th of January, the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers declared exactly the contrary: »The European Union appeals to the Israeli government to terminate this practice and reserves the right to payment of damages in an appropriate form.» Austria’s Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner (Austrian Peoples' Party) explained: »It must be clear that the EU has a pain threshold.«
This threshold has definitely been broken for two American Jews who were beaten up in the middle of Berlin’s bustling Kurfuerstendamm by a gang of Arabs. One of them had to be treated in a hospital - both terminated their stay in Germany prematurely. On the occasion of an event in Berlin hosted by pro-Israel left-wing radicals, an Arab group chanted »Jews out!« The same group tried later, armed with knifes, to break up the event. Arson attacks against synagogues in France and Belgium show plainly the threat for Jews in Europe.
The climate for such anti-Semitic violence to prosper is carried not least by resolutions like the one of the European Parliament.
On the other hand, the Permanent Representation of the League of the Arab States in Brussels can rejoice. More than one week before the first signs for an EU Middle East troop, it had every reason to welcome the European positions »regarding the support of the Palestinian people and its elected leaders«. Two days later EU Commission President Romano Prodi announced further aid to the value of five million Euros. No reason for discontent thus - at least not for the Palestinians.
Additionally, the EU called for a state of their own for the terrorists after each assassination committed by Palestinians - a stimulus for further bloodshed by Palestinian terror groups and a hint to undecided and less militant Palestinians that the strategy of murder promises more success. »You see, we have achieved something, this path cannot be wrong!« Hamas and others would say later, if they want to finally terminate the existence of Israel with the slaughtering of the Jews.
This would destroy Israel also as the region’s only democratic state. As in all other places of the world, the fundamental rights situation can certainly still be improved in Israel. It appears dubious however, when this demand comes from states that are at the same time lowering their own fundamental rights standards, due to a by far smaller, not existential and partially contrived threat. On the other hand, the conditions under the Palestinian Autonomy Authority (PAA) remain too often outside the European field of vision.
During the so-called first Intifada (1987 to 1993) alone, 800 people were killed by Palestinians as alleged collaborators. In March 2002, according to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, the Palestinian Raif Laftawi was lynch murdered; his corpse was hung on an electricity mast in close proximity to Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah, stones were thrown at him and he was shot at. According to Palestinian sources, Laftawi was accused of having given hints on the whereabouts of three presumed terrorists of the Tanzim militia and Force 17 to Israeli security officers. In the EU, no-one seems to notice that there is a manifest contradiction between the PAA’s protests to fight terrorism and the fact that those of their own people who enact this fight against terror in a civil society manner get convicted as »collaborators«.
The argumentation from among the German peace movement that one cannot demand a ceasefire as a condition for discussions with the PAA is thereby also void. The PAA not only rema ined dormant during the fight against terror, it even takes responsibility for forwarding the Iraqi 15,000 US-Dollar premiums for the families of suicide bombers. The PAA even takes on the reimbursement of expenditures on the deadly equipment of the bombers, as documents found in their headquarters prove, according to the Israeli army. The PAA was also involved in the smuggling of weapons from Iran on board the ship Karine A.
The idea of a Palestinian state, promoted for a long time by the EU, is now also supported by the UN Security Council and the USA, and even Israel saw itself forced not to exclude such a thing any longer. According to the speeches of many people who are - in vain - of good will, such a state would promote the peaceful coexistence of Palestinians and Israelis. One may doubt that however. The fact of being a state is not an obstacle for anti-Semitism. Many Palestinians regard a Palestinian State only as an intermediary solution before the final expulsion of the Jews. There are already sufficient neighbouring states that want to eradicate Israel and have already anticipated this in their maps. Such maps are already being used as banners on demonstrations for a Palestinian state. Anti-Semitism in Germany, Hungary, Spain, Denmark, Russia, Belgium, France and many other countries likewise gives reason against a civilising effect of the establishment of states as well as against an anti-anti-Semitic effect of increasing prosperity.

This article went to press on April 13, 2002.


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