This is the translation of a german blog-entry (deutsch).
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.
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 I would like to say that nationalism today was also a historically outdated phenomenon – and yet it seems to flare up everywhere again and again.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.
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
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.
The solution lies 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.
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. 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.
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)