This article (Peace for Israel-Palestine – A solution for the conflict in Middle East) is the translation of a german blog-entry (deutsch): Frieden für Israel – Palästina – Lösung des Nahostkonflikts
First of all, two remarks in advance. In the case of the Middle East conflict, many people adopt a very slanted view and attitude towards this conflict. So please read the following text in its entirety, before you, dear reader, put me on one of those sides. So please reconsider your judgment after reading the entire text.
I would also like to make it very clear and explicit, that I strongly condemn any form of terror, violation of physical integrity and unequal treatment on issues of human equality and dignity and on issues of civil equality.
Where to begin ? – About Injustice without Compensation
Considering the Middle East conflict shouldn’t begin with the actual founding act of the State of Israel, but with the examination of Zionism and the Holocaust. Nevertheless, I will name injustice and try to point out a way to resolve the conflict without further injustice.
Flag of Palestine overbrushed with the flag of Israel
Read more (in English):
About the Unreasonableness of Nationalism
With regard to Zionism, I am afraid I have to express my incomprehension. The idea of referring to ancient people as a modern man and wanting to derive current law from it seems absurd to me. Then everyone could consider which of his ancestors in which epoch would bring him the greatest advantage. Apart from that, on closer inspection it might be difficult to trace exact affiliations with certainty. The german National-Socialists have already tried such nonsense with their gibberish about Aryans, purity and Ahnenpass („ancestor passport“ – a document which shows information about the ancestors up to the great-grand-parents and their confessions to decide their status). In this sense, there are neither ancient Germans nor ancient Jews today. And what significance should such an assignment have?
Discrimination against Jewish groups in the European past, in particular, is a sad historical reality. As assimilation progressed, it was the emerging European nationalism and colonialism that led to a renewed crisis. I would like to say that nationalism today was also a historically outdated phenomenon – and yet it seems to flare up everywhere again and again. Nonetheless, nationalism is nothing but a short-sighted and selfish thought that belongs swept away by reason, which recognizes human equality. My rejection of nationalism therefore also applies to Zionism.
The primacy of reason
Some particularly religious orthodox Jews tend to derive a God-given right to the territory of Israel from their holy book, what ever this should mean, the Talmud. This thought was already found in earlier Zionism. Referring to the natural right of reason that emanates from human equality, I reject a right derived from mere belief in a divine destiny. The faithful in particular may also deal with the argument that reason is also given by God. The idea of „chosen people“, on the other hand, is not reasonably comprehensible.
About Injustice without a possibility of Reparation
The holocaust is such an extreme injustice, that it is really impossible, to put it in fitting words. More than that: It is an injustice, without any possibility of reparation. And compensation and reparation to victims usually always should be strived for on crimes. The only possible action has been the prosecution of the culprits for their individual crimes. And in my eyes this didn’t happen with the required consistency. Everybody can just be responsible for his own actions. Nobody can be prosecuted for crimes, he in person didn’t comitted. This confession will play a role in my argumentation later.
An injustice without any possibility of compensation and reparation generates righteous anger and powerlessness – not only among the victims. When the state of Israel has been founded after the Second World War, there has been a lot of sympathy for the victims of the holocaust, looking for a new home far away from the places of suffering and death of millions of people. And the acting of the post-war powers was led by compassion.
The injustice in the founding of the state Israel
It is a historical fact, that the act of founding of the state of Israel has been a breach of public international law of nations, and has been tolerated by the united nations because of the holocaust in Europe. At the same time jewish organizations like the Hagana resorted to terrorist bombings against the British Mandatory power in palestine. On the other hand compassion may not be the only motive of the post-war powers, but the principle of notinmybackyard or St. Florian. It is well known, that many countries in the world refused to take jewish refugees into their countries.
Another historical fact is, that the territory of the state hasn’t been an uninhabited wasteland and the palestinians have been forced in displacement and still live as refugees near the borders in the neighbouring countries. In many respects the natural rights of the palestinian people have been and still will be violated regularly.
No Creation of new injustice
It’s an universal principle, that is is impossible, to fix one injustice with another injustice. Because of this there can not be a full reparation for the injustice based in the act of founding of the state of Israel. Like in other contexts this is a sad fact. It implicates it wouldn’t be a solution of the conflict, to displace the jewish inhabitants of the territory of today. The presence of the jewish people and immigrants in the territory is a fact, which can not be changed without the creation of new injustice.
Strength can’t justify Rights
Another universal principle is, that power, strength, force, violance can’t justify any rights. It is totally unsuit. Otherwise every highwayman would have the right to rob. Of course, the situation of the state of Israel today is very strong. This may raise the question, why to give way to others. But from unjustified power derives injustice, from injustice derive anger and despair. At last this leads from powerlessness not just to raising the closed fist against the sky threatening heaven, but to find other ways to get justice. These may not be peaceful. This implicates a reproach to the united nations, too, because they haven’t opposed injustice again and again.
Israel: The solution will be in the future
Since the founding of the state of Israel new generations grew up. Peace will only become possible, when these new generations of Israelians and Palestinians will lern to live together. To these new generations -even the Israelians- it became their home. This is not about reconciliation. It’s about the fact, that the view into the past and to the origins of this conflict does not lead to any solution. Those, who want to find a solution to this conflict have to look to the future, set a target and set realistic steps to solve the problems while avoiding the creation of new injustice.
About the purpose of a state: The failure of Israel
Let’s start with some basic thoughts. A State is a state. In german it is more easy to talk with different words about this. The first state is the organization, the second state is the condition of a country. It’s a state as a realm to discuss and deal public affairs. The term republic is derived from this understanding. On the other hand a state often will be defined about outer borders or alleged ethnic groups. These criteria I don’t take as significant. I think it is rather of importance that on a somehow rational limited territory the public affairs are dealt for all living people, without any look on social or ethnic origin, colour of skin, religion, age and so on.
In this sense the state of Israel is a totally failed project, because it doesn’t deal the public affairs in a just and compensatory way for all people living on the relevant territory. Well, generally we usually call the the main purposes of a state in more detail (especially in democracies) the guarantee of internal and external security, the liberty of its inhabitants, welfare and education. To these points it is quite commendable, what the state of Israel achieved in infrastructure so far, but it has to be to the favor of all people living there.
Challenges – Agenda for Israel / Palestine – Equality and more
Which objectives should be on the agenda for Israel/Palestine? – Civil equality in the first place. No lockouts. No threat to physical or economic existence. Fair distribution of ressources, i.e. of water rights. Equal rights, fair access to infrastructure, equal educational opportunities, equal right to strive for happiness – for all inhabitants. Other objectives should be to find a solution to the desiccation of the Black Sea as an ecological, environmental problem not stopping at political borders, like other global issues. Another major objective has to be the integration of a perhaps majority (when including the refugees) of arabs. Jews often strived for integration into other regions of the world, here they have to offer it to others.
Challenges – Agenda for Israel / Palestine – Humanity
There must be no discrimination on grounds of origin or religious affiliation. Differencies have to be balanced in unity. Instead of Jews, Muslims and Christians Humans should be the citizens. Of course the rights of minorities have to be protected and respected by everybody.
Challenges – Agenda for Israel / Palestine – Rule of Law
Another point on the agenda has to be the enforcement of civil prosecution. murder has to be prosecuted in a context of the rule of law and without looking at the person. It must not matter, if the person is a sniper, a pilot or a suicide-bomber, if he is part of official troops, regular units or if he counts himself in to a movement or whatever, if he is an officer, a prime-minister or the head of a state, or simply somebody, who talks another one to sacrifice himself. Who kills by his own hand or who gives the order, must answer to an ordinary, civil court. Even people, who just know of plans, but don’t intervene, must be held accountable. This is no question of religion or other affiliations. In the name of law it has to be enforced.
The Best of all possible solutions?
I am convinced and I give you this to think about: The least popular position in this question is the one, that inherents the best and one sure way to the solution of the middle east conflict. It’s not the two-state-solution, but a common state of Jews and Muslims, Palestinians and Israelis, and all the other minorities living together in full recognition of civil equality. It’s true, this demands a lot of everybody living there. Palestinians have to renunciate compensation for past great injustice and to accept the state and its authorities. They will become part of it. Israelis have to tolerate a drastic change, a big turnaround in the state thru the recognition of Muslims as equals. Putting the old aside, the new generations living in the region will have to decide this.
In the past this solution has been called a „binational“ solution. I am unhappy with this term. Instead I call it a humanely and rational solution of the middle east conflict. I call it a way of peace to Israel/Palestine. – „You, you may say I’m a dreamer – but I’m not the only one“ (John Lennon, Imagine)
(Articles are listed below and linked)
After the publication of my article, I held a short press review on the latest violent events. In relation to Israel’s 70th year of existence, there have been violent clashes, including deaths. Unarmed Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli army snipers.
I was therefore very shocked by an interview of Mrs. Reich with a former Israeli army officer who tried to clearly justify the use of lethal force. I regard this approach as disrespectful of humanity. There are alternatives to lethal force. If the interviewee then, after a glance at photos of the dead, discovers from the clothes or badges that most of them were “terrorists”, this is intolerable. These looks mean nothing. Anyone can put something on their hat. Moreover, these people did not pose an immediate threat. In my view, no one can rely solely on command when it comes to judging his actions. There are illegal orders that cannot be obeyed without being guilty. I would prosecute and bring to justice both perpetrators and actual participants in attacks by both sides simply for their crimes under the rule of law. There are murderers on both sides, suppliers of explosives, but also people who only have one opinion, which they express drastically. The latter are not criminals. Flat-rate convictions are unlawful and prosecution must be specific and individual. Allegations must be substantiated or refuted in due process. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any confidence in the rule of law either in the autonomous territories or in Israel, which is why both constructs must be regarded as having failed.
I would also like to thank Mrs Knaul, who points out in her article that former Israeli snipers are also critical of the order.
Unfortunately, other contributions, such as Mrs Stricker’s, are also very one-sided. She also uses a very general offender-victim terminology. For me, it is the anger and powerlessness of the Palestinians brought about by the injustice of the State of Israel that has made Hamas what it is now. If the Palestinians were equal citizens of Israel, Fatah and Hamas would certainly be nothing more than normal parties in the Knesset, such as the Likud bloc, Yisra’el Beitenu and Echud Leumi.
I agree with Mr Schuster’s speech that peaceful protest along the lines of Gandhi is a better language. As I read in the Gulf News, however, there have been recent peaceful protests comparable to that of a racetrack force. On the other hand, the British occupiers were perhaps more moral than the Israeli. I wonder if purely peaceful protests are news to the world public and change anything. This would certainly not make the Israelis more motivated to strive for a solution to the conflict, but rather to scratch their asses in boredom. To the quotation from Golda Meir, which reflects the unjust strength of Israel, I would like to reply: peace will exist when people love people more than hate people regardless of their origin and faith.
In some of its editorial posts, the Jerusalem Post paints the future of Israel in colorful colors – without, however, addressing the resolution of the major conflicts. Is it ignorance? On another contribution, by Mr Yadlin, I would like to say that my perception is that humanity has lost – on both sides. Both sides are doing wrong. There’s no admission. There is no solution without cooperation – and best in a common state with equal rights.
At the end of this re-reading, I can state that I am not the only “dreamer. ” I found the interview of Mr. Widmann with Mr. Hanno Loewy very refreshing. Many thanks to Mr Loewy.
Artikels related to the topic
Gazastreifen: Hunderte Verletzte bei neuen Gaza-Protesten
Erneut kommt es an der Grenze zu Israel zu Protesten. Mindestens 112 Menschen werden bei der Demonstration verletzt.
An article from Frankfurter Rundschau of 13.04.2018, Origin: dpa.
Neue Proteste im Gaza-Streifen: Molotowcocktails und Tränengas
An den palästinensischen Protesten nehmen immer weniger Menschen teil. Israels Regierung verteidigt das harte Vorgehen gegen Demonstranten.
An article from TAZ of 13.04.2018 by Susanne Knaul, foreign correspondent Israel.
Nahost „Es gibt keine andere Möglichkeit als zu schießen“
Grischa Jakubovich leitete jahrelang die Zivilverwaltung der Armee im Gazastreifen. Im Interview spricht der israelische Oberst über die Proteste der Palästinenser, Interessen der Hamas und Auswege aus dem Konflikt.
Interview from Frankfurter Rundschau of 09.04.2018 by Anja Reich.
Opinion: Die tragischen Illusionen der Palästinenser
An opinion-piece from Welt of 07.04.2018 by Jacques Schuster.
Konflikt im Gazastreifen – Free Gaza! Von der Hamas!
Kolumne: Brief aus Tel Aviv
A column piece from Cicero of 3. April 2018 by Sarah Stricker.
WATCH: Israel at 70 – Big data and the future of Israel – Scary? Exciting? Both? How will big data shape the future of Israel and our planet?
Article from The Jerusalem Post of 12.04.2018 from the editorial staff.
Jerusalem Post /Arab-Israeli Conflict /Gaza News: A sense of victory by both Hamas and Israel: A recipe for escalation in Gaza? Seven tips for how Israel can improve its position amid turbulence on the Gaza border.
Article from The Jerusalem Post of 12.04.2018 by Amos Yadlin.
Palestinians in Gaza resist Israel through parkour: Parkour team performs special show on the Israeli-Gaza border—the scene of protests which have turned deadly
Report from Gulf News of 11.04.2018 by AFP.
Interview „Man liebt die Juden, solange sie weit weg sind“
Hanno Loewy, Direktor des Jüdischen Museums in Hohenems, spricht über die Mär vom christlich-jüdischen Abendland, modernen Antisemitismus und ein Schweiz-Modell, das keine Seite wollte.
Interview from Frankfurter Rundschau of 09.02.2018 by Arno Widmann.