Freitag, 26. März 2010

The Invention of the Jewish People

In his speech before the yearly convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel´s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu referred many times to rights of „the Jewish people“ to settle anywhere in “the Land of Israel“ when he talked about Israel and its Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) including East-Jerusalem. Perhaps he has not read Shlomo Sand´s book “The Invention of the Jewish People“ and if he had read it, he had banished it from his mind. A "Jewish people" has not existed, it was an invention, and consequently there could be no exile. This, in brief, is the central thesis of the book by the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand, who teaches European history at the University of Tel Aviv. All the beautiful Bible stories are to be legends: the Exodus from Egypt, the Babylonian exile, the Roman occupation, including the destruction of the Second Temple and the associated displacement, and the triumphant return after 2000 years to "Zion" in the Zionist movement? Sand rejects almost all of these religious legends. The Jewish Diaspora is not created by displacement, but through conversion to Judaism from different nations. It is self-explanatory, that such a frontal assault on "Israeli-Jewish" existence in Palestine will not be unopposed. Since the creation of the State of Israel, and even long before, the Zionist claims that the “Land of Israel“ has been challenged by large segments of the Jewish population worldwide. The religious people argued that „Jewish identity“is something completely different from "Zionist identity“. In this dilemma stands Israel ever since. And it is still hotly disputed like the book “A Threat from within. A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism” by Jacov Rabkin shows just as the national histories of the German, French or Spanish are based on myths, so is the Jewish-Israeli one. However, Sand notes: Even if a group of people "were never a nation and its past is entirely invented, it retains the right to personal self-determination".

The destruction of the temple had been there, but no mass expulsion, because it has not been such in Roman history, writes Sand. "A closer examination of the historical event that had allegedly caused the ‘second expulsion’ of the year 70 AD, and the review of the concept of ‘exile’ and its importance in later Judaism, however, give indications that the historical awareness of different and separate events were put together based on different traditions. The only way they could become a useful myth, which serves the modern Jews as ‘ethnic identity’ hook." To the myth of the destruction the exile was added, although long before 70 AD large Jewish communities had existed outside of Judea. The majority of Jews remained in Palestine. After the conquest by Islam they converted in large numbers or may have been assimilated into this religion. Consequently, the real Jews in Palestine were the Palestinians, the descendants of the original population in Judea and Canaan.

Shlomo Sand’s thesis was represented before the state of Israel was founded by David Ben-Gurion. The leading Zionist representatives never had anything to do with the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine. They were by no means their offspring, but most of them were "Khazar", a citizen of a kingdom of the Khazars. In the 8th and early 9th Century, the Turkic people from the Caucasus fully converted to Judaism, under the motto: "cuius regio eius religio," says the author. This thesis had been represented by Arthur Koestler in "The Thirteenth Tribe". Now it is supported by Sand as previously scientifically by Israel Bartal. For the author, the origin of the "Yiddish Culture" was not based on an import from Germany, but it is the result of a connection between the descendants of the Khazars and the Germans who traveled to the East, some of them were merchants. Because of the ethical diversity of Israel, the author insinuates that the identity of Israel would be met more by a "state of all its citizens" than a "Jewish state". Such a claim is raised by a few far-sighted Israelis and Israel's 1.5 million Palestinian citizens who have been suffering with massive discrimination since 1948.

The consequences of Sand´s thesis would lead to an equality of all non-Jewish citizens of Israel, because the claimed connection to the historic tribes to the state of Israel, as the historical mythology of the Zionists assert, does not exist. A direct genealogy of Moses via New York City to the settlers in the West Bank is a myth. A coherent national population had never existed, but different groups which had adopted the Jewish religion. Hence the colonization of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel is not only against international law but also historical baseless, as there has been no such thing as "Eretz Israel" (Land of Israel) before. This myth was created, following Sand´s historical narrative, only in the last 100 years by the Zionist colonization. According to the book of John Rose “The Myths of Zionism” Ben-Gurion was the greatest Zionist “myth-maker.” Not without reason the Zionists gave up the terms "people" or even "nation", even though all features were available. "The specific historical nature of this society was denied and rejected by its founders and designers over and over again. She was appointed by Zionism, and one must add, by the Arab nationalism as ‘Nichtvolk’ (non-people) and with ‘Nichtnation’ (non-nation) perceived’, it was only part of the wider world Jewry, which should continue to return to Eretz Israel (Palestine)." Those “property rights” based on the mythical concept of "Eretz Israel" and pseudo-religious legal titles to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are therefore null and void, not to mention international standards.

Sand´s book is a contemporary critique of Israeli identity politics, and it breaks the biggest taboo in the country. In the chapter on "Judaism and Democracy - an oxymoron?" the author presents a variety of political ideas over this Israeli dilemma. Despite all the changes, Israel existed more than 60 years as a "liberal ethnocracy". For Sand, this cannot continue ad infinitum. His vision for Israel seems to himself "to be a utopian hallucination": "The Jewish hyper identity needs a thorough transformation to adapt to the cultural ferment-living reality over which it reigns. This identity must go through an open Israelization by offering itself to all citizens of the state. It is too late to transform Israel into a unified and homogenous nation state. Therefore one has to invite the strangers to a Israelization in order to create a multicultural democracy, similar to that developed in Britain or Holland, and to allow to the full equality of the Palestinians and their institutional autonomy.“ Together with the preservation and maintenance of their culture and their institutions, there has to be an invitation to be in the center of power of the hegemonic Israeli culture. Every Palestinian-Israeli girl and every boy needs, if they want, to have access to a career that can bring them to the centers of Israeli culture and Israeli actions. Every Jewish-Israeli boy and every girl needs to be aware that they live in a country in which there are many equal ‘other’ living, writes the author.

The book has not only triggered a fierce debate in Israel. For many Israelis Sand´s thesis are political virgin territory, they are diametrically opposed to the official Israeli interpretation of history. The author has already come under severe pressure, making a German edition doubtful. At least, the English readers and before them the French ones could enjoy the light in the darkness. It is a very fascinating, exciting, even revolutionary book.

Montag, 22. März 2010

The Crimes of Empire

Successive governments of the United States of America like to designate other countries, whose leaders they do not like, „rogue states“. Noam Chomsky showed in „Rogue States“ that this designation does not apply to countries such as Iraq but to the United States itself. According to him, the American superpower fulfills all the characteritics of such an entity. The U. S. and its „junior partner“, the United Kingdom, made Iraq a cartoon of an „outlaw nation“ that threatens the entire world, and Saddam Hussein the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. If that would have been true, they should have turned to the U. N. Security Council. Instead they started an act of aggression against Iraq, thereby showing contempt for international law and the U. N. Charter, which would have provided a legal base to handle this crisis peacefully. Chomsky mentions that Libya, Cuba, and North Korea were also designated as „rogue states“, and the ´boy emperor from Crawford, Texas` named Iran, Iraq and North Korea the „axis of evil“. U. S. President Ronald Reagan had already termed the Soviet Union an „evil emprie“. Having red Carl Boggs book, one can doubt whether the right countries were stigmatized „rogue states” because „The Crime of Empire“ is the criminal history of U. S. behavior in international relations.

The central thesis of Carl Boggs`book may be summerized in the following statement: „The U. S. stands today as the most fearsome outlaw nation in the world, its leaders having contributed to a steady descent into global lawlessness“. The author explores the rise of the U. S. from its fundation in 1776 as it rose against old European colonialism to the status of an empire, which dominates the world. Boggs follows an interesting approach. Over a period of more than 200 years the development of U. S. policy is described as a history of „military criminality and outlawry“. Boggs links global and domestic (political, economic and cultural) elements of a power structure that is addicted to militarism and war. The present U. S. neo-colonialist policies of aggression cannot be understood apart from this historical legacy. According to the author, the legacy of U. S. outlawry has its origins in the earliest days of the Republic beginning with the extermination of the Native American.

This book is the third part of a trilogy on U. S. imperial power which started with „Imperial Delusions“ in 2004 and was followed by „The Hollywood War Machine“ in 2006, the last one written with Tom Pollard. Without the support of the film industry, the corporate media and the military-industrial complex the American public could not have been so easily manipulated into supporting the illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Carl Boggs teaches Social Science at the National University in Los Angeles. In 2007 he has received the Charles McCoy Career Achievement Award from the American Political Science Association. In seven chapters of his book, the author succeeds to convince readers about the criminal nature of the U.S. superpower.

The consequences of U. S. outlawry for the future of international relations are regarded by the author as „nightmarish”: in the wake of 9/11 the U. S. lost all legal restrains on its military conduct and stepped up its quest for world hegemony aggressively. The Bush administration demonstrated open contempt for international law, the United Nations, and the International Criminal Court (ICC). This contempt of the rule of law „is deeply rooted in U. S. practice and intellectual culture”. If that would not have been enough,it even arrogated itself a „right” to attack any country it deems as a potenial threat to U. S. domination.

Boggs points at a dichotomy in U. S. governments behavior. „No ruling elite proclaim the ´rule of law`more loudly, and no society produces more lawyers, prosecutors, judges, legal theorists – and prisons” than American society. But this goes no further than domestic society. At the international level, the U. S. „routinely favors power over legality, often dismissing legality as nuisance in the face of pressing global realities”. The U. S. power elites „believe” in „national exceptionalism”, they view the country as a „benevolent” or „benign” hegemon working for „democracy, human rights, and peace”. The elite – politicians, media, academia, and think tanks - presents U. S. policy as „pragmatic”, non-ideological, furthering liberal democracy, freedom, equality, and citizen partizipation. Policies are driven by a consensus of economic and geopolitical disiderata that actually „revolves around a struggle for domination over the Middle East”, writes Boggs. According to the author, the unholy legacy started with the white European settlers. They perceived their mission als „God-given”, driven by entlightenment and social progress. This „white-man´s burden” was later called „Manifest Destiny”. A concept rooted in the religious zealotry of the Puritans. In the nineteenth century the U. S. carried out military interventions in several nations in Central America and the Caribbean. The author writes that in 1844, under the presidency of James K. Polk, the U. S. annexed, after a self-provoced war against Mexico, large parts of Texas, California, New Mexiko, Arizona, and Nevada which belonged to Mexico. Already at that time this „premtive war” was justified by national security arguments. The Mexicans were slaughtered by the thousends as being „backward, ignorant, and undemocratic, hardly worthy proprietors of the land they had controlled”. Don´t the neocons and the religious fundamentalist of today cartoon the Muslims in a similar fashion, in order to dehumanize them and make attacks against them appeare more „rational”? With the massacre at Wounded Knee „a system firmly rooted in authoritarian controls and propelled by a micture of colonialism, racism, capitalism, and militarism” was firmly established. „An ideology of ruthless expansion was incorporated into the political culture, shared especially by the upper circles of politicians, business elites, the military, and Christian instituions.” And Boggs adds: „It is precisely the legacy of imperialism, warfare, and outlawry that was carried into, and helped shape, later U. S. behavior in such targeted areas as the Philippines, Central America, Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East.”

In the chapter „Crimes against Peace”, „Warfare against Civilians”, „War Crimes by Proxy”, „Weapons of Mass Destruction”, „A Tale of Broken Treaties”, „War-Crimes Tribunals: Imperial Justice”, and „Torture and Other Atrocities” the author spreads out to readers a picture of this country, unknown to most of the world. To outsiders, the American political system presents a highly idealistic model that actually hides its hegemonic aims. This perception is widely shared around the world. In the chapter „Crimes against Peace”. Boggs shows how the U. S. violates not only the „Nuermberg principles” but also international law in general. He mentions that after World War II the Germans and Japanese were tried for „crimes against peace”. The Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuermberg defined such crimes as „planning, preparation, initiation, or waging a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy (for war)”. At different periods in its history „the U. S. has violated every one of the above principles, generally holding itself above the most hollowed norm of international law”, so Boggs.

The Nuremberg Charter had jurisdiction over four seperate crimes: conspiracy to carry out aggressive war, the actual launching of aggression, killing, destroying, and plundering during a war not justified by military necessity, and crimes against humanity related to atrocities against civilians. The Nazis were convicted on all four counts. Did not the rulers of the United States commit all these crimes in the Korean and Vietnam War? Or in the more recent, and illegal, wars against Afghanistan and Iraq?

In „War Crimes by Proxy” the author writes: „The Israeli occupation of Palestine, with its continuous acts of military aggression and human rights abuses over several decades, is surely the most visible (and no doubt most egregious case of U. S. war crimes by proxy. The state of Israel has in many ways served as an American imperial outpost in the Middle East, subsidized by every conceivable form of economic, political, dplomatic, and military backing – a relationship that is, indeed, sui generis.” Boggs mentions persistent Israeli disregard for international law and human rights. „Beneath its celebrated ´democracy`, the Israeli state was historically founded on brute force and terrorism leading to an occupation regime in clear violation of international legality. The territory expropriated by Israel is stolen land, justified by Zionist ideology with its phony biblical claims and sustained by a fanaticism that views the local population as subhuman primitives. (...) To legitimate such crminality, Israel lays claim to ethnic and religious supremacy rooted in Zionism, an ideology that glorifies colonial theft of land, appropriation of resouces, and military occupation denying even the most basic rights of Palestinians.” According to the author, the U. S.-Israel „client-state relationship is solidified and legitimated by the indefatigable and well-financed work of the Israel lobby”. In this respect, Boggs mentions AIPAC, JINSA, WINEP, ZOA, IPP which are blindly supported by the various Christian Zionist organizations, by think-tanks like AEI, PNAC and the Hudson Institute. Boggs quotes from the book „The Israel Lobby” by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in which the authors wrote „if the United States were to choose sides on the basis of moral considerations alone, it would back the Palestinians not Israel”. The U. S. departure from moral priniciples started at the Lausanne conference in 1949 and has continued ever since. The book „The Passionate Attachment” by George W. Ball and Douglas B. Ball shows not only the one-sidedness of U. S. Middle Eastern policy but also the caving in to permanent Israeli pressure.

As a postscript, the author describes „the routinization of mass murder” refering to explanations from political psychology. For Boggs, the U. S. armed forces have occupied a special place when it comes to war crimes. Two of many reasons are noteworthy: the constant pressures to maintain imperial hegemony and a long history of evading legal accountability, writes Boggs. Winding up this extraordinary book, the author concludes: „A major problem with U. S. war crimes in general is that virtually everyone has managed to escape criminal liability, except in a few cases like My Lai and Abu Ghraib where lower personnel was tried, convicted, and generally given light sentences.” Last but not least, all the war crimes the U. S. has committed against other peoples were not planned and carried out by sadistic thugs or xenophobix right-wingers but by ordinary folks who come from solid family backgrounds, are well mannered, display elevated cultural taste, and may even be informed by good intentions, writes Boggs. And the planners of these horrendous crimes are mostly so-called whiz kids liberal, cultured, urbane, visionary government officials and many celebrated academics from the Ivy League Schools.

The following distinction could be important which Boggs did not contemplate on: The specific nature of U. S. „criminal conduct” is not so much the number of direct victims – which are much smaller than the victims of Hitler´s and Stalin´s brutal tyranny - but the fact that U. S. „criminal conduct” are being overly supported or at least tolerated by all governments which claim to represent democracy and human rights. Another specific feature of U. S. „criminal conduct” is that the U. S. crimes have been mostly been committed in broad daylight, whereas both the Nazi and Soviet regimes attempted to hide their crimes. The „crimes” by „democratic governments” require much greater reliance on the manipulative practice of mass media than were the crimes by the Nazi and Soviet regimes, because „crimes” by „democrativ governments” must be legitimized by public acceptance.

Having read the book I was flabbergasted by the fact that the country in which I studied International relations has such a long history of war crimes. If „The Shining City upon a Hill” and „the light of the world” does not end its hegemonc policy and become primus inter pares in the international system, it will be doomed to the fate of the Roman Empire.

First published: MWC News, March 23, 2010.

Sonntag, 21. März 2010

Destroying World Order

The so-called "war on terror" in Afghanistan and the controversial invasion of Iraq under international law for the Americans brought a surprising result: the world sees the U.S. as one of the greatest threats to world peace, as the EU and the BBC polls . demonstrate The intervention of the United States has brought the region of the Near and Middle East has been no peace, only chaos, misery and instability.

Iraq was a playground for international terrorism. But what seems more serious, is the questioning of established international law and destabilize the international system as a whole. Despite the platitude that since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 "has changed everything," said Francis A. Boyle, Professor of Law at the University of Illinois in Champaign, that the imperialist orientation of U.S. foreign policy since the founding of the United States has remained the same.

After reading the book, one wonders whether the list of "rogue states" do not need to be supplemented. For the author, the U.S. is the "rogue elephant of International Relations." Boyle argued in the nine chapters of the book entirely legalistic, in the tradition of his country, is ranked in the "Rule of Law" on a par with "God, motherhood and apple pie." His arguments against the various U.S. administrations are legally convincing, although there are many counter-arguments to all his assertions.

The author vigorously defends all minorities and their human rights. He served on the board of Amnesty International and others was legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating delegation, Haidar Abdel-Shafi in 1991 to 1993 in Washington. His commitment to the rights of the Palestinians is particularly pronounced, which has significantly contributed to his "outsider" within the scientific community in the U.S.. However, this is understood not as a flaw, but as a distinction.

The intention of the author is to demonstrate that violate the U.S. government under Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George WH Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and especially George W. Bush Jr., the law and human rights of smaller states at will. So the U.S. had interpreted their "right to self defense" always very excessive. The Reagan administration tried to "Caroline Case" of 1837 to justify their retaliation in the Gulf region, Lebanon, Libya, and against international terrorism. At that time, Secretary of State Daniel Webster argued that the self-defense measures should be applied only in extreme emergencies when no other means were available to more and no possibility of negotiating more be given. This definition was also the War Crimes Tribunal in Nuremberg in 1945 net as it passes judgment Nazi criminals.

Have committed Boyle throws the U.S. president in front on the war against Iraq, "war crime." So did Bush sen. ordered the destruction of vital installations in Iraq, the environment severely compromised, can deliberately bombed civilians and unarmed soldiers, the Iraqis vital medicine, clean water and food withheld and ruined the economic base of the country. Boyle's request for dismissal, which brought the Texas Representative Henry Gonzalez in Congress who wanted to join but no other Members. Has a similar Amtenthebungsverfahren Jr., the author also against Bush. strain, which is directed against Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Boyle accuses the United States' "Patriot Act have to transform "into a" police state ". Also this application is probably not a success.

The author also rejects "from humanitarian intervention", since no state had the right under international law to attack militarily under the pretext of humanitarian intervention to another UN member state. As it stands out but this well-Volker legal position of some advocates of intervention in Europe. Boyle points out that international law and the UN ready instruments, resolve conflicts peacefully. For the author, only the crimes of the Nazis against European Jewry a military intervention can be justified. In complete disregard of the mandate of NATO, he believes this alliance for the "largest collection of genocidal states that have ever organized in the history." Consequently, we hear of this alliance also no word on a humanitarian intervention against Israel in order to guarantee the protection of the Palestinian people.

Although Boyle's contributions are all very rigorous and grounded in international law, but also show a hint of despair and powerlessness with which he legally dashing against the hegemony of the U.S. government. A change in U.S. policy could be enforced by the American people. He must be given that the incumbent government is contrary to the principles of law. The "Rule of Law", which had absorbed the American people with the milk, should be refocused into the consciences of the public. It is highly penetrating time in this "psychic reservoir" of the citizens, what is the most characteristic feature of the American people.

For such a concern to prevail, the author has yet to travel a long and arduous route. Show the critical contributions that has criticism of the U.S. government to do anything with anti-Americanism. For all those who are also with the policies of the Bush administration do not agree, this book is a treasure trove of arguments. In the meantime, the American people has rendered its verdict, and Senator John McCain and therefore not chosen because it did not want any more of the Bush policies for another four years. However, whether with Barack Hussein Obama secures the improvement can only show the future. The "Clintonization" of Obama's presidency does not bode well.

First published: MWC News, March 20, 2010.

Samstag, 13. März 2010

Bedingungslos für Israel?

Um das Image des Staates Israel in der Welt ist ein heftiger Meinungskampf entbrannt, der mit allen Mitteln ausgetragen wird. Das israelische Reut-Institut hat ein Strategiepapier veröffentlicht, wie und mit welchen Mitteln einer angenommenen „Delegitimierung“ Israels entgegengetreten werden kann. Ebenfalls kursieren im Internet strategische Überlegungen, die darauf abzielen, die internationale Kampagne „Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions“ (BDS) in Misskredit zu bringen. Dieses so genannte Anti-BDS-Dokument ist auf fünf Jahre ausgelegt und hat zum Ziel, Israel als die Verkörperung der Humanität darzustellen und die BDS-Kampagne in die Defensive zu drängen, sie zu stigmatisieren und zu diskreditieren. Es soll ein Keil zwischen „soft critics and hard delegitimizers“ getrieben werden. Was auf die BDS-Protagonisten zukommt, macht folgender Satz deutlich: „The fight should be hysterical – we forget just how powerful a tool ridicule can be as a weapon in politics, especially in our ´Jon Stewart`culture.” Eine solche hysterische Kampagne musste u. a. die deutsch-israelische Menschrechtsanwältin Felicia Langer anlässlich der Verleihung des Bundesverdienstkreuzes 1. Klasse durch Bundespräsident Horst Köhler am 16. Juli 2009 für einige Monate über sich ergehen lassen.

Seitdem das Ergebnis einer EU-Umfrage vom Oktober 2003 bekannt wurde, nach der 59 Prozent der Befragten EU-Bürger Israel für die größte Bedrohung des Weltfriedens halten, begann das gesellschaftliche Klima frostig zu werden. In der Folge dieses Umfrageergebnisses wurde jedwede Kritik an der Besatzungspolitik Israels, dessen Verstößen gegen das Völkerrecht und die Menschenrechte der Palästinenser nicht mehr mit sachlicher Kritik entgegnet, sondern die Kritiker/innen wurden persönlich angegriffen und verleumdet. Die Methoden dieses gesellschaftlichen Mobbings laufen in allen Staaten ähnlich ab. In den USA ist diese Kampagnenform am effektivsten, weil sie von gut organisierten Pressure-Groups orchestriert wird, die John J. Mearsheimer und Stephen M. Walt als „Israellobby“ bezeichnen. Auch in einigen europäischen Ländern gibt es solche pro-israelischen Interessengruppen, die gegen die Kritiker/innen israelischer Regierungspolitik mit allen Mitteln vorgehen.

Jüngste Opfer dieser Pressure-Groups waren die durch Mobbing-Aktionen bewirkten „Auftrittsverbote“ des israelischen Historikers Ilan Pappé in München und des US-Politologen Norman G. Finkelstein in Berlin und München. Sowohl die Heinrich Böll Stiftung als auch die Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, die Trinitatiskirche in Berlin, das Amerika-Haus in München sowie die Münchner Stadtverwaltung zogen ihre Zusagen für die Räumlichkeiten nach Protesten dieser Lobbyisten zurück. Damit wurde dem Recht auf freie Meinungsäußerung schwerster Schaden zugefügt. Und die sonst so „hellwache“ Zivilgesellschaft knickte ein, zeigte keine Zivilcourage, kein Rückgrat und machte sich folglich zum „Komplizen“ dieser demokratiefeindlichen Kräfte.

Das Buch „Bedingungslos für Israel?“ hätte also zu keinem besseren Zeitpunkt erscheinen können. Einer der Herausgeber, Hermann Dierkes, Oberbürgermeisterkandidat und Vorsitzender der Ratsfraktion der Partei Die Linke in Duisburg, war ebenfalls Opfer einer Rufmordkampagne, die ihn zum Rücktritt vom Amte des Oberbürgermeisterkandidaten zwang. Dies u. a. auch deshalb, weil Teile seiner eigenen Partei ihn im Regen haben stehen lassen, insbesondere seine Berliner „Parteifreunde“.

In einem Interview mit Felicia Langer für die Zeitschrift „International“ habe ich ihr die Frage gestellt, ob es in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland eine „Israellobby“ gebe: „Ja, natürlich gibt es hier eine Israellobby, die sich als Sprachrohr der israelischen Politik versteht. (…) Die Methoden sind antidemokratisch, anmaßend und gehörten an den Pranger gestellt. Wie lange will sich die Gesellschaft die Bevormundung durch diese Lobby noch gefallen lassen?“ In den USA wurde der angesehene ehemalige US-Botschafter in China und Saudi-Arabien, Chas Freeman, der von US-Präsident Barack Obama für das Amt des Koordinators der 17 US-Geheimdienste vorgesehen war, von der „Israellobby“ so massiv gemobbt, dass er auf den Posten verzichtete. Er schrieb dieser Lobby Folgendes ins Stammbuch, was auch als Charakterisierung für die deutschen Verhältnisse zutrifft: „Die Taktiken der Israel-Lobby stellen Höhepunkte der Schande und Unanständigkeit dar, sie schließen Rufmord ebenso mit ein wie selektiv falsche Zitate, vorsätzliche Verfälschung der Fakten, Fabrikation von Unwahrheiten und vollkommene Missachtung der Wahrheit.“

Herrschen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland „bitinische“ Verhältnisse, fragen die Herausgeber/in dieses Buches in Anspielung auf die satirische Erzählung „Zensur in Bitinien“ von Primo Levi? Gott sei Dank sei die Bundesrepublik in der glücklichen Lage weder Zensur ausüben zu müssen noch müssten die Menschen sie erleiden, welche die „unverzügliche Verhaftung und Hinrichtung“ des Ertappten zur Folge hätte wie in „Bitinien“. „Umso verwunderlicher ist es, dass eine solche Zensur in Deutschland beinahe lückenlos ausgeübt wird und wirkt. Dies, obwohl niemand die bitinischen Konsequenzen zu gewärtigen hat, und obwohl es nicht einmal eine Zensurbehörde gibt, sondern nur die Öffentlichkeits- und Lobbytätigkeit oder Propaganda eines befreundeten Staates, die gewisse Sprachregelungen und Interpretationen nicht vorschreibt, sondern nur nahe legt. Obwohl niemand gezwungen ist, sich diesen Empfehlungen anzuschließen, auch wenn sie mit großem Nachdruck vorgetragen werden, geschieht dies annähernd geschlossen und in vorauseilendem Gehorsam – offenbar dank einer tief sitzenden deutschen Neigung.“

Der Überfall der israelischen Armee auf den Gazastreifen zur Jahreswende 2008/2009 und das dort angerichtete „Massaker“ (1 400 tote Palästinenser; 14 tote Israelis) und massiven Verwüstungen wurden von der deutschen politischen und medialen Öffentlichkeit mit argumentativen Versatzstücken wie das der „Gewaltspirale“, das der „beiden (grundsätzlich vergleichbaren) Seiten“, das eines Israel, das sich gegen massive, gar Existenz bedrohende Angriffe verteidigen müsse, kommuniziert, so die Autoren/in. Wo es in anderen Ländern massive Proteste gegen dieses „Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit“ (Richard Goldstone) gegeben habe, „regte sich keine Stimme eines deutschen Intellektuellen und kaum eine kritische Stimme eines deutschen Politikers“. Als aber Hermann Dierkes die Überlegungen des Weltsozialforums zur Durchsetzung von Völkerrecht im israelisch-palästinensischen Konflikt referierte, fielen die „bitinischen Hühner“ unisono über ihn her und starteten eine Rufmordkampagne.

Die Herausgeber/in vertreten einen internationalistischen Ansatz, um dadurch nicht nur die deutsche Engführung in Bezug auf Israel und den Provinzialismus in Sachen Nahostkonflikt zu überwinden, sondern auch die progressiven Sichtweisen und Thesen, wie sie andernorts vertreten werden, dem „deutschen Michel“ näher zu bringen. Ob dies bei der obwaltenden „Schweigespirale“ in punkto Israel gelingen wird, darf bezweifelt werden, wenn man sich die Nibelungentreue einiger Kreise ansieht. Die deutsche Debattenkultur über die Realitäten im Nahostkonflikt sind verstopft und auf einem Niveau, über das das Ausland nur mit dem Kopf schüttelt. Deshalb ist die Einführung der globalen Sichtweise duch 20 Autoren/innen aus sieben Ländern so wichtig, um zu zeigen, was möglich ist und auf welchem intellektuellen Niveau sich in anderen Ländern über Israel und Palästina gestritten wird.

Im ersten Kapitel schildert Hermann Dierkes seinen „Fall“, der eigentlich ein „Fall Die Linke“ und ihr deutscher Sonderweg ist. Dierkes wirft seinerseits den Parteioberen in Berlin vor, ihre Wischiwaschi-Haltung in der Nahostpolitik sei der Furcht geschuldet, sich nicht mit den „Dogmen der deutschen Mainstream-Politik“ zu Nahost anlegen zu müssen und die Linke peu à peu an diese heranzuführen. Abgerechnet wird mit der Gysi-Rede zur Nahostpolitik von Volkard Mosler, eines Mitglieds des geschäftsführenden Vorsandes der Linkspartei in Frankfurt am Main, wenn er schreibt: „Die Logik von Gysis Verständnis für die Notwehr der Eroberer scheint darauf hinauszulaufen, dass die Palästinenser sich dem Schicksal ihrer Vertreibung widerstandlos fügen sollen, um der Gleichbehandlung näher zu kommen, oder dass es gar nicht zu ihrer Vertreibung gekommen wäre, hätten sie sich friedlich verhalten. Eine gewagte Argumentation!“ Sollte Gysi tatsächlich solches in seiner Rede insinuiert haben, zeigt dies nicht nur seine völlig Unkenntnis der nahöstlichen Historie, sondern er scheint sich auch über das Wesen des Zionismus einer Illusion hinzugeben. Darüber hinaus gibt er eine koloniale Attitüde von links zum Besten. Wie man sieht, ist auch die Partei "Die Linke" gegen "the return of the colonial" nicht gefeit, wie es Yitzhak Laor in seinem jüngsten Buch "The Myth of Liberal Zionism" so treffend formuliert hat. Yossi Wolfson, israelischer Menschenrechtsanwalt, graust es bei der inhaltlichen Ausrichtung eines Teils der sich noch als links bezeichnenden Teile der Linken wie der Sekte der „Antideutschen“ oder der Gruppe „BAK Schalom“. Beide verfolgen keine linke, sondern eine rechte, neokonservative Agenda. „Diese neue Rechte, die vorgibt, eine Linke zu sein, missbraucht die Opfer der Naziherrschaft, angeblich für mein Leben und für meine Zukunft. Mir graust es. Und ich will rufen: ´Nicht in meinem Namen!`“.

Im Kapitel „Maßnahmen gegen die Wahrheit, Maßnahmen für die Wahrheit“ wird gezeigt, mit welchen Methoden die Wahrheit unterdrückt wird. Auf Grund der deutschen besonderen historischen Situation komme es in Deutschland nur sehr vereinzelt dazu, einen unverstellten Gedanken oder etwas Kontroverses über den israelisch-palästinensischen Konflikt öffentlich zu machen, begegne man ihm oder ihr mit hilflosen Maßnahmen schwacher Kritiker, denen die Argumente fehlen. „Diffamierungen und Unterstellungen, Aussagen, die aus dem Zusammenhang gerissen, falsch zitiert und entstellt, am besten aber gleich verschwiegen werden. Der oder die Betroffene erfährt kaum Solidarität aus der Öffentlichkeit oder seitens seiner ´Zunft`, sei es die der Medien, der Universität oder der Politik. Ausgerechnet bei einem Thema, über dessen Bedeutung für das deutsche Selbstverständnis Einigkeit besteht, finden Auseinandersetzung und Diskurs nicht statt.“ In einem Gespräch zwischen Sophia Deeg und Mustafa Barghuthi betont Letzterer die differenzierte Sichtweise der sozialen Bewegungen zu Palästina, die sich auch in den europäischen und deutschen Medien durchsetzen müsse. Die „Anarchists Against the Wall“ und die Organisation „Breaking the Silence“, in der israelische Soldaten über den Gazakrieg berichten, in dem sie „ihre eigene Armee nicht wieder erkannt haben“, stellen weitere Maßnahmen für die Wahrheit dar. Ihnen trete das israelische Außenministerium durch „finanzierte Kommentatoren, die in internationalen Medien, wie z. B. in Facebook, Blogs und ´linken Website` posten, um die Regierungspolitik Israels zu verteidigen.“

Die Beiträge gegen die Argumentations- und Denkverbote widersprechen der Gleichsetzung der Interessen der israelischen Bürgerinnen und Bürgern mit denen der jüdischen Bürger/innen in anderen Staaten. Der Niederländer Hajo G. Meyer nimmt eine Klärung der Begrifflichkeiten vor, weil Israel systematisch eine Begriffsverwirrung betreibe und dafür sorge, „dass Kritiker des Antisemitismus bezichtigt werden können, ohne das dies rational nachgewiesen werden bräuchte“. Dass eine Kritik des Zionismus, der jüdischen Variante des Nationalismus des ausgehenden 19. Jahrhunderts, nichts mit Antisemitismus zu tun hat, müsste jedem klar denkenden Menschen einleuchten. Durch die ständige Wiederholung der Gleichung Antizionismus sei Antisemitismus, scheint sich diese Formel auch in den öffentlichen Diskurs eingeschlichen zu haben. Diese Identifikation von Antizionismus mit Antisemitismus ist eine geniale Parole, um jegliche Kritik an Israel zu neutralisieren oder gar zum Verstummen zu bringen. Tatsächlich sind Zionismuskritik und Antisemitismus kontradiktorische Gegensätze. Erstere stellt eine Kritik eines ideologischen Herrschaftssystems und dessen Politik dar, letzterer verbalisiert Vorurteile gegenüber jüdischen Menschen. Dass sogar virulenter Antisemitismus und Zionismus gut zusammen gehen können, schreibt Meyer, zeige der Brief „des jüdischen Terroristen Abraham Stern an die Reichsregierung vom 11. Januar 1941“. In seinen Schreiben betont Stern: „Die nationale Militärorganisation (Irgun Zwei Leumi) ist sich des Wohlwollens der Deutschen Reichsregierung gegenüber Zionistischer Aktivität in Deutschland und gegenüber Zionistischen Emigrationsplänen wohl bewusst.“ Wie eng diese Kooperation war, belegt das Buch von Lenni Brenner ""Zionismus und Faschismus", das im Kai Homilius Verlag 2007 erschienen ist.

Besonders lesenswert ist der Beitrag des Briten Brain Klug über das Existenzrecht Israels, in dem er Nachdenkliches zu Israels Existenz schreibt: „Wenn Israel seine kriegerische Haltung nicht ändern kann; wenn die Mentalität des fortgesetzten Krieges weiterhin vorherrscht, bei dem sich jedes Grenzgeplänkel zur Schlacht um das Überleben des jüdischen Volkes auswächst; dann werden die Konsequenzen für Israel ebenso fatal sein, wie sie für andere tödlich sind. Die israelische Rhetorik von der ´Existenz`, die Teil seiner kriegerischen Haltung ist, gefährdet genau dies, seine Existenz.“ Vielleicht lesen die Mitglieder der Netanyahu-Regierung einmal bei ihrem Mentor Menachem Begin oder bei Abba Eban nach, was diese zum „Existenzrecht Israel“ gesagt haben. Auch der politischen und medialen Elite sei ins Stammbuch geschrieben, erst denken, dann reden, aber schon gar nicht nachplappern. Abba Eban schrieb am 18. November 1981 in der „New York Times“: „Niemand erweist Israel einen Dienst, indem er sein ´Existenzrecht` proklamiert. Es ist beunruhigend, dass so viele, die Israel wohl gesonnen sind, diese verächtliche Formulierung im Munde führen.“ Und der damalige israelische Ministerpräsident Menachem Begin erklärte bei der Vorstellung seiner neuen Regierung 1977 in der Knesset: „…ich möchte hier feststellen, dass die Regierung Israels keine Nation, sei sie nah oder fern, mächtig oder klein, darum ersuchen wird, unser Existenzrecht anzuerkennen.“ Für beide Politiker war das „Existenzrecht Israels“ das Selbstverständlichste auf der Welt, dass keiner ausdrücklichen Erwähnung bedürfe. Klug beendet seinen ausgezeichneten Beitrag wieder mit einem Zitat von Eban: „Niemand erweist ´der Sache des Friedens` einen Dienst, indem er Israels `Existenzrecht` proklamiert.“ Hoffentlich nehmen sich das die „betinischen Hühner“ in der Bundesrepublik zu Herzen.

In dem Buch sind noch weitere hervorragende und überaus lesenswerte Beiträge von Jeff Halper, Michael Warschawski, Rolf Verleger, Otfried Nassauer, Norman Paech und Kerstin Seifer, Omar Barghuthi, Assav Adi, Eyal Weizman u. a. enthalten. Der Beitrag „Der Stern als Brandzeichen – über den neuen Antisemitismus“ von Enzo Traverso sollte noch kurz Erwähnung finden. Der Autor vertritt die These, dass es keine neue „Welle“ gebe, sondern „der Antisemitismus blüht wieder auf. Um ihn zu bekämpfen, muss man seine Wurzeln kennen.“ Für ihn tragen die Verallgemeinerungen bei vielen Beobachtern nicht dazu bei, die derzeitige Situation zu verstehen. Um eine sinnvolle Debatte führen zu können, müsse man folgende Tatbestände unterscheiden: die Überreste des traditionellen Antisemitismus, die Formen der neuen Judeophobie, die ideologische Instrumentalisierung des Antisemitismus, um den Antizionismus in Bausch und Bogen zu verurteilen, und schließlich die Verzerrungen, die sich aus einer derart fragwürdigen Art der öffentlichen Geschichtsdebatte ergeben. Traverso weist auf die neue Art der Judeophobie in der arabischen Welt und unter den arabisch-muslimischen Minderheiten in Europa hin, deren Ursachen in den trostlosen Vorstädten, in denen sich der Staat in der Gestalt der Polizei zeige, im kolonisierten Irak und in den besetzten palästinensischen Gebieten liegen. Auf diesem Nährboden gedeihe auch der islamische Fundamentalismus. Selbst die antirassistischen Bewegungen haben es nie geschafft, organische Beziehungen zu den Einwanderern herzustellen, dies zeige sich daran, dass keine Partei der Linken einen Nichtweißen Sprecher oder jemanden mit arabischen oder afrikanischen Nachnamen habe. Dagegen würden die Muslime zu einer „nicht assimilierbaren Minderheit gemacht“. Verwundert zeigt sich Traverso über das Zentralorgan der Antideutschen, „Konkret“, die den „palästinensischen Terrorismus unterstützte, als die PLO Israel noch nicht anerkannte, befürwortet heute die Besatzung des Westjordanlandes und des Gazastreifens und geht sogar soweit, im Namen des Kampfes gegen Antisemitismus den Krieg gegen den Irak zu begrüßen.“ Der Autor macht eine tiefgründige Anmerkung zum Wesen der Deutschen: „In Deutschland sind die Juden nie in der Weise anerkannt worden, wie es die Aufklärung fordert, nämlich als menschliche Wesen. (…) Vielmehr wurden sie immer als Träger einer Essenz, eines Wesens gesehen. Diese Essenz hat heute das Vorzeichen gewechselt: war sie einst Gegenstand der Verachtung, wird sie heute rückhaltlos unterstützt. (…) In diesem Sinne ist der Philosemitismus eines Teils der deutschen Linken weniger ein Zeichen ihrer Läuterung als ihrer fehlenden Reife und ihrer Unfähigkeit, sich von einem überkommenen Vorurteil zu lösen, wenn auch die Werteskala heute auf den Kopf gestellt ist.“

Im letzten Kapitel wird die Notwendigkeit der BDS-Kampagnen betont, um ein Ende der Besatzung herbeizuführen. Martin Forberg gibt eine vorsichtig optimistische Einschätzung der begonnenen BDS-Aktionen in der Bundesrepublik. Wer eine Zwei-Staaten-Lösung wolle, komme um Druck auf Israel nicht herum, „weil anders die Besatzung als strukturelles Haupthindernis für einen Frieden nicht überwunden werden kann“. Abgerundet wird das Buch durch Dokumente zum „Fall“ Dierkes.

Die israelische Zivilgesellschaft fordert von Deutschland immer wieder, sich seiner politischen Verantwortung zu stellen und sich auch für die unterdrückten Palästinenser einzusetzen, da sie die Opfer der israelischen Besatzungspolitik seien. Die Einforderung der Respektierung des Völkerrechts und die Achtung der Menschrechte und nicht die Lieferung weiterer Waffen sei gefragt, da sie zur weiteren Strangulierung der Palästinenser verwendet würden. Hoffentlich wirkt das Buch wie eine Art „Abfluss frei“, indem es die intellektuelle Verstopfung der diversen Eliten in der Bundesrepublik hinwegspült und sich die freie Rede gegenüber einer zurechtgestutzten Meinung durchsetzt. In diesem Sinne sind dem Buch viele Leser zu wünschen.

Erschienen im: Neuer ISP Verlag, Karlsruhe 2010, € 19,80.

Mittwoch, 10. März 2010

From Zionist to Post-Zionist

In your book “Hitler besiegen”(The Holocaust is over; We must rise from the ashes) you erected a memorial not only in honour of your father but also for your mother who lived in the seventh generation in Hebron. With this background, how come that you as a young politician did not join the “National Religious Party” (NRP), the party of your father?

My father was a family man and within the family not concerned with political matters. We had many things in common. He was very much interested in building bridges between observants and non-observants. At this stage we had a lot in common. However, there was one crucial, fundamental difference between us. He believed that the state of Israel has a religious redemptive dimension. I believed at that time and I still believe that any state may it be Israel, Germany or the United States, is just a tool, it is just an instrument in the hands of the people. A state should not have any religious burden or dimension of significance. He believed that the state of Israel was religiously speaking the dome of our redemption. I did not agree and until today, I still call for the separation between church and state.

As long as your father was party-chairman, it was a liberal-conservative religious party. How come that it got hijacked by religious zealots and was turned into a messianic settler party?

In general terms you can ask the same question about the entire Israeli situation. Israel after 1948 was basically socialist; today it is mainly capitalist; much more religious and right-wing. The religious and the political process are connected to each other. After the state was founded, the number one challenge was to save the body, which means, evolving from the holocaust, managing the emigration from Muslim countries and rescuing the very few people coming from the Soviet bloc. It was about saving the body of the individual Jew and building the body of the state. It was my father’s generation, which saved the body. Then came the generation of their children, which is my generation or a bit older. They said saving the body is not enough. We have to save the spirit as well. They introduced the messianic school of thought into the NRP that came from deeply committed messianic elements which were always there but over all the years, they were minor and insignificant and all of a sudden, it gained momentum. The peak of their achievement was the Six-Days-War. In the eyes of many, it was a redemptive war, it was a miracle. No such victory ever happened. It was a kind of signal. In the following years, all of Israel was changed by conquering and settling the land. It was a top priority not only of their camp, but for Israel as a whole.

From the outside Israel seems as if it´s turning into a society ruled by right-wing extremists and religious fanatics, although it has still a large secular segment. It is like Little America. Is this impression correct and what about the role of the secular segment?

Your reading of Israel is quite accurate. The whole political scenary has turned to the right when in the past it had been centred left. It is now centred right. There is a crush of left ideology not only in Israel, but all over the world. The comparison with the United States is very interesting because America is a very, very religious and conservative entity. Especially after the last eight years of the George W. Bush´s administration. It was shameful for the world’s intelligence, but this is a problem of the Americans. It is very conservative, religious, and right-wing oriented. As for Israel, it is much more complicated because here the issues of right and left are not just about social and economic positions of right or left. They combine two more dimensions: one is the Palestinians; the other concerns the religious and non-religious elements in society. If you look to the right and you see anti-Arab notions like Lieberman´s, which resemble and remind you of the xenophobic trends of today’s Europe, there is no difference. It is anti-Arab, very capitalistic and neo-conservative in its economy and Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Barak represented it in exactly the same fashion, though including an increasing religious and traditional notion. So here, you have the formular.

Let’s turn to your book. Two years ago your book “Hitler besiegen” (The Holocaust is over; We must rise from the ashes) was published in Israel. For the first time a politican from the political elite and the establishment turned all the Israeli values upside down. You slaughtered all sacred Israeli cows. How was your book perceived? Did your book cause uproar? Did it involve any personal consequences for your? Did you loose political friends et cetera?

First as a humanist, a peace-activist and a vegetarian, I reject the verb “slaughtered”, O.K? Metaphorically, it was not as much about slaughtering but rather putting a very clear mirror in front of the eyes of society. The fact that so many argued regarding my personality rather than answering my arguments tells me so. It is very easy but also very human to kill the messenger rather than dealing with the message. Having said that, the launching of my book was very, very, very controversial and very polemic. People were surprised; they were shocked, they were angry at me. Others told me that they were very thankful to elaborate and to open the door and clear the air, but it was not easy. Now two years later after I analysed what happened to the book, it is seen differently from how it was perceived after the first attacks. Because then, it became immediately the target of the aggression of many. Time passed and the people saw that one after one my arguments and analyses are coming true. Politically, I don’t know whether I lost because I resigned from politics five years ago, but I do not really care. I am not running for any position, O.K? It is less relevant for me.

But what happened to me, I can see if I can characterize the people I “lost”. I would say that they are secular, middle-class, well-off Israelis who say, ‘Avram come on, now that we have made it, that we are established, we are OK. Now you come with your troubling questions: Stop it immediately.’ They were very mad at me all these Mr. Israels so to say. But on the other hand there came many young people about to enter the military service and after their service young students and parents were coming to me. Three times a week I even see groups of younger people like these. They would like to talk to me, not that they agree with my answers but they say Avram you are the only person who allows questions in this place. I can say, for the first time in my life, that this is the first generation who is interested in the subject.

A year later, your book was published in the US. How did the American Jewry react?

The publishing abroad is a very interesting issue because the intellectual circles, which are writers, commentators and think tanks etc. are curious about it because I offer a new strategy to Israel. It is not only a new direction for us, it is a new direction for the entire West. The intellectual circles in France, Italy and the US received it fantastically. I have been twice in the Charly Rose TV-show. In France, the book was very well perceived. The Jewish establishment was silent, not a single word they said. Those who agreed with me said it loud. Those who disagreed with me did not engage in polemics because it is not an easy polemic. In such a case, silence is a typical attitude of the Jewish establishment.

Were there accusations against you like being a “self-hating Jew” or even an “anti-Semite” or any other of these thoughtless things?

Yes, but it is not serious. There is no content behind it. You say I am a bad guy, O.K! Do you have a good argument? I do not want to get engaged in this kind of thing, O.K!

Mr. Burg, Zionism was establish to resolve the severe antisemtism in Europe and to enable the Jewish people to get their own nation-state and to live the same life like people in any other nation in the world. Looking back 60 years, has the Zionist dream come true or has it develop into a nightmare for Israel?

I am not sure that your assumptions were the only ones. No doubt that Herzl was severely impacted by the Dreyfus-Affair and others. Antisemitism was the cause of all of his dynamics. There were other national voices like Ahad Ha´am who thought of not only to solve the problem of Anti-Semitism and the Jews of Europe but who wanted to go back to the promised land and initiate a national spiritual renaissance. I would say the following: 100 years later and 60 years since we have sovereignty, it is still too early to know. We speak about a Jewish civilisation which is 3500 years old; of these we were 2000 years in exile. You don’t take 60 years of sovereignty and believe that immediately it balances and compensates 2000 years of prosecution. I can say one thing for sure: As long as we don’t have peace in the Middle East either because of our enemies or because of us, we are as much responsible for missing opportunities as well as they are. As long we don’t have this peace and we have to confine ourselves behind high walls to defend ourselves, our relations with our neighbours will mainly be based on weapons rather then on mutual interests. We are in a very dialectic and painful situation; we copied the ghetto-mentality and the exile reality to the Middle East. The minute the Zionist revolution has succeeded would be the time when we lower the wall, put down the swords and make them into ploughs. This we have not yet achieved.

There are a many critics of the Zionist ideology who state that there can only be peace in the Middle East when Zionism will be abolished. Do you share this opinion?

It is a discussion that for me seems somehow obsolete. For me Zionism was the scaffolding, which was supposed to support the new building into which the Jewish people were moving from exile structures into sovereignty. Once 97 percent of the Jews are outside of immediate threat for their lives because most of us are living in a democratic hemisphere and the fact that we have a solid sovereignty here means that these aims of Zionism were achieved. From now on we have Judaism. I am a human being and this is my family name, I am a Jew, this is my middle name, and I am an Israeli, this is my private name. In the Middle East this, however, has not happened because the state of Israel as is does not succeed to achieve peace with the Arab states and the Palestinian people around us. It has nothing to do with any ideology a lot however with mistrust and the inability to bring this peace about. I believe that if you say, abolishing Zionism means abolishing the state of Israel, I will say it is a bad recommendation. You cannot persuade the people to go. If you say, let’s try to persuade the state of Israel to do something about it, I would say, I agree.

To make it clear that this is not my position I just cited critics.

And I tell you what this something is: Between us and the Palestinians, what happened is, we both had a trauma. We had the holocaust and they had the 1948-trauma. Instead of denying it, and they deny our trauma as we deny their trauma, we both go through an Alpha type competition. You have a trauma. You say mine is bigger, he says his trauma is bigger. And I say it is about time for psycho politics before politics. I understand the Palestinian refugee issue, I understand my part into it and the part of the Arab states which exploited it etc. But nonetheless, I fully understand my responsibility and I want to do my utmost to help to overcome it and to strife for a better live. As we succeeded in building the beginning of something between Germany and us there is no reason why we can’t also do it between us and the Palestinians. They have to recognize that we had a trauma, therefore we have fears and concerns and they need to help us to overcome our fears and concerns. Only when we mutually enhance each other and empower each other will it be possible to do something about it.

Just before Israel turned 50, I conducted an interview with Israel Shahak. We also touched the question of Zionism. He argued that Zionism had to be citicized even if it would have been established on an island not hurting anybody because Zionism wanted and established a state only for its Jewish inhabitants. He argued that there is a fundamental contradiction between Zionism and a democratic state. He said that you cannot have a democratic Jewish state, because Zionism established an ethnocentric entity, which can only be democratic for their Jewish inhabitants. Do you agree with his position?

There is a problem with the definition of a Jewish-democratic state because if it is Jewish it is less democratic, if it is democratic it cannot compromise for the Jewish component. My solution is a bit different: I think the definition of the state should not be a Jewish state but a state for the Jews, which puts the responsibility for the Jewishness of the state on the shoulders of the individuals and the communities etc. If the Jewish communities decide to leave Israel as it is, we are in a majority; it will have a kind of Jewish character. Members of the Jewish majority can decide to move away from here and not to live here. If Israel annexes the Westbank, Jews will loose their majority; it will not be a state with a dominant Jewish character. I do not want the state being an instrument for any religious preference whatsoever.

Do you consider yourself still a Zionist?

As I defined Zionism earlier, there is now doubt that Zionism to me is very important and a glorious chapter in the past of my nation. But we have to move on. Zionism happened, served its cause, we have sovereignty, but now we have to move on. In this sense, there is now doubt I am a post-Zionist.

In your book, you have been using the term Jewish people. I think you have read Shlomo Sand´s book “The invention of the Jewish people”. When you were writing your book, didn’t you know what Shlomo Sand wrote?

First his book was published after mine. But I think that Shlomo´s argument is not that there is now Jewish people. He says that the origions are different and the reading of the history is different. He said that we were not exiled but moved away. Many converted and came from converted religions. But he does not argue with the fact that there is something like a Jewish people. In fact, the Jewish people are here. There is no doubt that we are a people defined by us as such and by others as such. As long as these definitions exist in the hearts and the bodies and in the souls of many, I have no problem with it. The only thing I am saying in my book and I confirm it time and again, I do not believe that the Jewish nation is a religious genetic nation only. I believe it is a way of life, a value system, and I believe therefore that the dimensions and the extent of the Jewish people are wider than the limited orthodox definition.

How come that you compared in your book the situation in Israel today with Germany during the Weimar Republik?

As anybody can imagine, it was not an easy comparison. Sometimes analogies are very dangerous because they are not hundred percent accurate with the argument you want to make. Everybody sticks to the one percent, which is not exact and they miss the whole thing. In writing, you need analogies because they illustrate and emphasise. I thought about our situation here. First, let’s compare it to the first white pioneers in North America and I said it is not an antithesis. Then I thought about France in Algeria and again it is not an antithesis. And then I tought about the two most important books that influenced the future and the fate of modern Jewish people at the end of the 19th and during the 20th century, both written in German; it was Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and Herzl’s “Altneuland”. Both are important, outstanding and significant books, which changed my personal and my national fate. Why did it happen in Germany? What was there in Germany that produced these two books? And the more I thought about it, I realised that what happened in Germany between the Second Reich and the Weimarer Republik was actually a very fascinating competition between new spirits of liberalism, creativity, equality, modernity and the national trauma. Trauma competed against the new spirit, against hope. Trauma and hope, trauma and hope, trauma and hope. And eventually in the thirties the trauma took over. And I say to my Israeli fellows and to my Israeli colleagues and peers this is where we have a competition between a trauma and hope. On the one hand, there is no doubt that we are a traumatised nation on the individual and the collective level. But on the other hand, there is an unbelievable eruption of the new spirit, of new values, creativity and innovation. They are extraordinary in this place. There is a competion. My argument is: Pay attention that this time, here, with us, trauma will not win again.

I think that you wrote this book not only for the Israelis but also for the Germans.

No doubt.

Do you think that both people are still traumatised on a different degree by the Shoah? Should both people just forget the holocaust and put it on the backburner and move on and deal with the future? Professor Yehuda Elkana proposed in an article on March 8th, 1988, in Haaretz that the Israelis should forget about the holocaust and get rid of the historical “Zachor” exhortation and should turn towards the future. Is your position a similar one?

He was once my teacher. He retold that there came two people out of Auschwitz: One who said, never again towards Jews; and one who said never again towards any human being. This was a very important teaching for me. I do not argue that we should forget. Not remembering is not an option. We have to remember. But when you remember, it does not mean that you have to live in the past. When you remember, you move on. We have good mechanisms for it. We are the people with memory, we do not forget our past, we still celebrate and commemorate the destruction of the temples and the exodus from Egypt; all of our history. At the same time, we are a very vibrant and forward moving people. Having said that, you are right that the book was actually written for both neighbours of the same ocean of suffering: Germany and Israel. Yes, we had different positions during the Second World War but now, years after, both societies have to overcome them. The society of the victims and the society of the victimizers. My feelings tells me that Israel is much more advanced and ahead of Germany when it comes to moving forward. In Israel, the discussion is open etc. That means that we are already in the middle of a discourse. In Germany, it is much more complicated. The people in Germany discuss whether the book should be published or not. Should the public. read it or not. They do not want to be perceived as being Anti-Israeli or Anti-Semitic. It took me many years to find a publisher, finally Campus publisher found me. It was not so easy with the rest of the world either. That´s why I say, we still have a long way to go together. Israel alone, Germany alone, and Israel and Germany together.

Israel drew the conclusion from the holocaust: Never again to us. As I understood you in the book, you are for a universal approach: Never again anywhere?

Right, this is my commitment as a Jew. It is the higher call of your generation. Wherever there is a victim, I would like to march together: Jews and Germans together.

Should this also be a lesson for the Germans?
I believe so. And today in the world arena Germany is very reluctant to act. I do not mean to act militarily; you have to see the real power of Germany, the industrial, economic, intellectual, the ethic power of Germany. It is not matched anywhere when it comes to charity and global responsibility. For its stand regarding anti-misery anti-genocide and crimes against humanity, Germany is not there. I think it is not there because it is still hesitant to go out to these places. And I believe that if and when we shall be able to walk together – yesterday’s victims with the yesterday’s victimiser – and say this is where we have been only 60, 70 or 80 years ago and we teach our lesson together in order to help prevent any kind of misery. This might become a panacea, an example of redemption.

How do you see the future of Israel? Can Israel survive as a Jewish state or only as a state of all its citizens?

This is for the future to decide. I am not a good futurologist. All depends on peace. Without peace Israel will not be able and should not be able to rely on its sword forever. If you need swords and we need swords for self-defence, that is fine. If you need swords, an army and military like any other nation in the world that is fine. But to rely on this only is not enough. Israel must be able to live and survive in a trustworthy environment of peace. Look what happened to the American Jewry. How prosperous they are. And there is no Jewish military power there. Look what happened to the German Jewry up until the war. The influence, the impact, the presence, the creativity from everything from Freud, Einstein etc. Imagine we had this energy here in Israel? We don’t use it for our and the region’s improvement because we are so entangled in wars and survival. Therefore, I believe that peace is and should be the prime strategy of Israel. It will answer all the questions.

Does Israel not lack the spiritual dimension? You refered in your book to the concept of Ahad Ha´am. What do you mean with it?

There is no doubt about that. It is very difficult to be a pure Athenian when you behave like a Spartan. Spirituality in Israel is a crippled spirituality. But there is also good news: I think there is a beginning of renaissance. I published a new book, which is a full scale new interpretation of the five books of Moses with ancient and traditional input and modern and liberal committment. I am trying to offer a new spiritual way to Judaism and Israelis.

Mr. Burg, thank you very much for the interview.

The interview with Avram Burg, the author of “The Holocaust is over; We must rise from the ashes”, was conducted in English by Ludwig Watzal, journalist, editor, and columnist, Bonn, Germany. Originally published in Englisch in: „Semit“. Independent Jewish Journal, (2009) 5, S. 42-45. The German version was published in "Jüdische Zeitung" and "International. Journal for International Politics", Vienna/Austria.
Foto: Avram Burg, Wikipedia.

Sonntag, 7. März 2010

Quisiera ser un pajarito

„Fui al Libano. He visto los cementarios de Sabra y Shatila. Es acongojante ver las tumbas donde fueron sepultadas las victimas de esta horrible masacre. El responsable de esta horrible masacre continúa aún en el gobierno de Israel y está orgulloso de haber organizado esta masacre. Esta persona debería ser expulsada de la sociedad.” Estas valientes palabras fueron dicho por Sandro Pertini en la mensaje presidencial a los italianos, el 31 de deciembre 1983.

El libro „Quisiera ser un pajarcito“ es parte del proyecto „Niños palestinas refugiados en el Líbano cuentan su vida y expresan sus esperanzas.“ 30 niños refugiados de entre 9 y 14 años de edad. El proyecto inicial al cual AI-Jana dio vida en 1998, una actividad fotográfico-periodística para 30 jóvenes des los campas para refugiados de Shatila y Barj-al-Baraineh, fué en seguida continuado con actividades pedagógicas y artísticas y terminado con la impresión del original del libro presente. Este proyecto se pone el objecto de estimular a los jóvenes a reflexionar sobre su existencia y experimentar sus sentimientos y esperanzas a través de fotos, diseños y composiciones escritas.

Los niños de los refugiados palestinos en El Líbano documentan su vida y dan voz a us esperanzas se encuentran ya en la cuarta generación que vive en el exilie. Las experiencias negativas que los niños de los campos han experimentado son: la insuficiencia de la asistencia médica privada y de la asistencia pública, educatión inadecuada, marginación escolar, trabajo de menores, falta de oportunidades de trabajo y de emigración. Las esperanzas de los niños, sus momentor de felicidad son: Meriendas en lugares abiertos, buenas comidas, serenidad, educación, amistad, amor. Aquí lo que los hace tristes: Bombarderos, horror y preocupaciones. Las memorias de los ancianos sobre su vida en Palestina y el exilio forzado.

La existencia de los jóvenes se relaciona con su pasado y con la historia de su pueblo: “La vida debe continuar para el bien de Palestina”; “Quisiera ser un pajarito para poder volar sobre mi país.” Para los niños del Occidente los siguientes derechos son evidientes: “Es mi derecho tener derechos“; “Mi derecho a disponar de una buena comida y de una habitación“; „También los niños pobres tienen derecho a jugar y de tener plazas de juegos limpios“; “El derecho a la libertad de expresión“; “El derecho de tener una patria“; y por último „El derecho a poder liberar a mi país y de regresar a mi casa“.

Momentos de esperanza han surgido en mayo 2000, cuando El Líbano meridional fue liberado y los niños estuvieron en condiciones de ver Palestina y encontrarse en la frontera con otros niñios palestinas. Las historias de estos niños demuestran que también la cuarta generación de los palestinos exiliados mantiene sólidos vínculos con su propio pasado.

El proyecto “Un puente para ...” est una asociación de volutarios fundado en 1991 en Rom (con el nombre de “Un puente para Bagdad) justo después de los bombardeos sobre Irak. Con los años “Un puente para ...” ha aumentado su propia actividad a través del Medico Oriente con proyectos para refugiados palestinos en el Líbano, el Kurdistán turco y enlos Balcanes con el envío de medicinas a los Hospitales de la Federación Yugoslavia lo mismo que ayuda a los refugiados del Kosovo..

A pesar de las tristes circunstancias y la miseria en los campamentos de refugiados, el número de fotografías impresionantes, dibujos y textos enseña que la última palabra todavía no se ha hablado acerca de estos campos de refugiados. La esperanza muere al último y no se puede destruir con bombas tampoco. El derecho a una patria es un derecho humano que puede ser realizada a través de un retorno a Palestina.

El trilingüismo de los textos hace ese libro tan especial. Con la ayuda del libro los niños alemánes, españoles e italianos pueden ocuparse de las preocupaciones de sus colegas palestinos. Un libro infantil muy apasionante y cautivador.

Publicado en Zamban Publisher, Frankfurt 2006, 15 Euro.

Samstag, 6. März 2010

Ich würde gerne ein Vöglein sein

„Ich bin im Libanon gewesen. Ich habe die Friedhöfe von Sabra und Schatilla gesehen. Es ist beängstigend, die Friedhöfe zu sehen, wo die Opfer dieser schrecklichen Massaker begraben sind. Der Verantwortliche dieses schrecklichen Massakers sitzt noch in der Regierung in Israel. Und er ist fast stolz, dieses Massaker vollendet zu haben. Dieser Verantwortliche sollte aus der zivilen Gesellschaft ausgestoßen werden.“ Der, der diese mutigen Worte am 1. Dezember 1983 sprach, war Italiens Staatspräsident Sandro Pertini.

Der Verantwortliche war kein geringerer als Ariel Sharon, der damalige israelische Verteidigungsminister. Mit seiner stillschweigenden Duldung konnten die christlichen Milizen in den palästinensischen Flüchtlingslagern ein Massaker unter der wehrlosen Bevölkerung anrichten. Wo war „der“ westliche Politiker, als die israelische Armee um die Jahreswende 2008/9 im Gaza-Streifen ein „Massaker“ an der wehrlosen Bevölkerung anrichtete, bei dem 1 400 Menschen starben, die Mehrzahl Frauen und Kinder?

Das Buch „Ich würde gerne ein Vöglein sein“ ist Teil des Projektes von Kindern der Palästinenser, die in den Libanon vertriebenen worden sind. Diese Kinder zwischen 9 und 14 Jahren sprechen über ihr Leben und ihre Hoffnungen und drücken ihre Erfahrungen in Zeichnungen aus. Das Projekt, das AI Jana 1998 ins Leben rief, beinhaltete zu Beginn eine fotografisch-journalistische Tätigkeit von 30 Kindern aus den Flüchtlingslagern Shatila und Borj-al-Barajeh. Es wurde später mit pädagogischen und künstlerischen Tätigkeiten fortgesetzt und schließlich mit der Herausgabe dieses Buches abgeschlossen. Mit diesem Projekt war beabsichtigt, die Kinder zu motivieren, über ihre eigene Existenz, Gefühle und Hoffnungen nachzudenken, und diese durch Fotos, Zeichnungen und in Texten auszudrücken.

Die vielfältigen Eindrücke sind die von Lagerkindern. Sie betreffen das ungenügende Gesundheitssystem, die vernachlässigte Bildung, die schulische Ausgrenzung, die Arbeit von Minderjährigen, die fehlenden Chancen, eine Arbeit zu finden oder auswandern zu dürfen. Die Hoffnungen dieser Kinder sind Picknicks im Freien, gutes Essen, Heiterkeit, Erziehung, Freundschaft und Liebe. Traurigkeit erzeugen: Bombardements, Gräuel und Sorgen, die Erinnerungen der Alten an das Leben in Palästina und das erzwungene Exil.

Das Leben der Kinder steht im Bezug zur Vergangenheit und der Geschichte ihres Volkes: „Das Leben muss weiter gehen für das Wohl Palästinas.“ Für die Kinder im Westen sind die folgenden Rechte Selbstverständlichkeiten: „Es ist mein Recht, Rechte zu haben“; „Mein Anspruch auf ein Studium, ohne arbeiten gehen zu müssen“; „Mein Recht, gutes Essen und eine Wohnung zu haben“; „Auch die Kinder der Armen haben das Recht zu spielen und über saubere Spielplätze zu verfügen“; „das Recht auf Meinungsfreiheit“; „das Recht, ein Vaterland zu haben“; und zuletzt „das Recht, mein Land zu befreien und nach Hause zurückzukehren“.

Ein Hoffnungsschimmer kam in den Erzählungen auf, als im Mai 2000 der Südlibanon von israelischer Besetzung befreit wurde und die Kinder in der Lage waren, Palästina zu sehen und andere palästinensische Kinder an der Grenze zu treffen. Die Geschichten dieser Kinder zeigen eines: auch in der vierten Generation der vertriebenen Palästinenser zeigt sich eine tiefe Bindung an ihre Heimat Palästina.

Das Projekt wurde von „Eine Brücke für …“ initiiert. Diese Organisation wurde 1991 direkt nach dem Ende der Bombardements im Irak mit dem Namen „eine Brücke für Bagdad“ gegründet, um die irakische Bevölkerung, die unter dem Krieg und dem Embargo des Westens litt, humanitäre Hilfe zu leisten. Die Organisation dehnte im Laufe der Jahre ihren Aktionsradius auf die palästinensischen Flüchtlingslager im Libanon und auf das türkische Kurdistan aus.

Trotz der herrschenden Tristesse und des Elends in den Flüchtlingslagern vermitteln die zahlreichen beeindruckenden Fotos, Zeichnungen und Texte, dass das letzte Wort über diese Flüchtlingslager noch nicht gesprochen ist. Die Hoffnung stirbt bekanntlich zuletzt; sie lässt sich auch nicht zerbomben. Das Recht auf Heimat ist ein Menschenrecht, das durch Rückkehr nach Palästina realisiert werden kann.

Die Dreisprachigkeit der Texte macht das Buch zu etwas Besonderem. So können sich deutsche, spanische und italienische Kinder mit dem Anliegen ihrer palästinensischen Altersgenossen/Innen solidarisieren. Ein Kinderbuch der besonderen Art.

Erschienen im Zambon Verlag, Frankfurt 2006, 15 Euro.

Dienstag, 2. März 2010

War and Empire. The American Way of Life

Former US President Ronald Reagan called in a speech to the “National Association of Evangelicals” in Orlando, Florida in 1983 the former Soviet Union an „evil empire“. Having read „War and Empire“ by Paul L. Atwood this characterization fits perfectly well to US-American foreign policy. What the author presents to the reader makes one shiver.

Starting out as a nation born in the fight against British colonialism, the US has become the world largest imperial power. The US does not only wages two neocolonial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the later together with Nato, but it has also military bases in 141 states and 11 territories, out of 191 states comprising the United Nations. American arms patrol all the seas and skies, including outer space. This is not enough, the Pentagon declares flatly that it wants to achieve nothing less than „full-spectrum dominance“ over any potential foe in the future.

The paleoconservative columnist Patrick J. Buchanan describes this imperial demeanor in „Liquidating the Empire“ as follows: „While this worldwide archipelago of bases may have been necessary when we confronted a Sino-Soviet bloc spanning Eurasia from the Elbe to East China Sea, armed with thousands of nuclear weapons and driven by imperial ambition and ideological hatred of us, that is history now. It is preposterous to argue that all these bases are essential to our security. Indeed, our military presence, our endless wars, and our support of despotic regimes have made America, once the most admired of nations, almost everywhere resented and even hated.“

When former US President George W. Bush stated that Muslims might hate the US because of they hate freedom and American values, he was totally wrong. If Muslims hate at all the US, it would be solely for their brutal occuption of Muslim countries and their double standards in international affairs, especially towards their “albatross-like ally, Israel” as the autor calls it. After 9/11 the majority of Americans demanded revenge. President Bush initially called for a “crusade” against Muslims. Attacking Afghanistan was not enough. In his book “Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War” Mark Danner quotes Henry Kissinger, who echoed this popular view. “The radical Islamists wanted to humiliate us. Ánd we need to humiliate them`”. For the sake of American prestige and the credibility of American power, the image of the burning and collapsing WTC towers had to be supplanted by images American tanks rumbling down the streets of Bagdhad and planting the US flag on the top of Saddam Hussein´s statute. It was to be a grand display of "shock and awe", unrestrained by the United Nations, international laws, and criminal courts, in order that get use to American power.

Paul L. Atwood, Senior Lecturer at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, set the record stright right from the beginning: The US is not a peace-loving nation that will avoid violence at all costs. On the contrary, “War is the American way of life.” Every American schoolchild cut its teeth learning that ”the United States represents principles and values that are the only hope of a rational, orderly, just and peaceful society”. This template for current policies and war was set before the Founders rebelled against their government, writes Atwood. It appears like that: “we are a people apart, exceptional and singled out by God or Destiny to redeem humanity”. Ideologically, the US government support to a morality “that defends self-determination universally and for all”. The author writes “that assertion is mainly honored in its breach”.

American history exemplifies that the US lives by the sword in order to “seek peace”. Several chapters of Adwood´s book deal with conquest of the American continent, which was not limited to slaughtering the indigenous Indian population but by defeating the British, French ,and the Spanish colonial powers. The conquest of the American continent was marked by „aggression, extreme brutality, genocide and ´ethnic cleansing`“. Since the US emerged from World War II as the most potent nation in history, it “slaughtered millions (...) the vast majority being helpless civilians”. The proclamation of “A New American Century” by the neo-conservative ideologues of the Bush administration „depends on maintaining control of the critical fuel necessary to power the American economy and its massive military machine that now straddles the globe“. In 1992, the outline for this “New American Century” were laid down by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz. He crafted a Defense Policy Guidance which became the policy template of the neo-conservative manifesto under the Bush government. The basic thrust constitute the so-called Bush doctrine, which called for actions to ensure the status of the US as the sole world power able to shape the global system to serve American geo-political interests. In order to uphold American hegemony the US should be prepared to act unilaterally and pre-emptively against any power that could undermine US dominance.

In the chapter entitled “war on terror” Atwood describes the close cooperation that took place between the US and Mujahideens after the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. The CIA recuited up to 50,000 Muslim volunteers from around the world, trained them und supplied them with weapons. Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was President Jimmy Carter´s National Security Advicer, puts matters pluntly in his book “The Grand Chessboard”. “Now we can give the USSR its Vietnam War.” The US designated at the time the Mujahideens “freedom fighters” who valiantly resisted Soviet occupation. Today the US calls the Taliban who resist the occupation of Afghanistan “terrorists”. The author rejects the idealistic rhetoric of freedom and democracy with which the US tries to justify its policies of aggressions against the Muslime world. The interventions are directed against China and Russia. The US wants to prevent China from becoming a superpower, writes the author.

Atwood´s statement that “war is the american way of life”, is based on his determination that the military-industrial complex “has developed a vested interest in a permanent state of tension and preparation for war”. The history of the US demonstrates “when the US prepares for war it usually goes to war”, writes the author. According to Atwood, a “National Security State requires enemies and it functions to create them and then exploits that manufactured state of affairs to promote further actions in the name of national security.” The author does not thinks that terrorism is an existential threat to the US but warns that “the continued US armed intervention in the Muslim world shows every indication of promoting just that”. The book provides a deep insight into the real motives for the last empire´s policies of aggression, policies which will probably lead to its self-destruction.

The German review here.