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germany and the middle east: the escalation of hatred

Posted by muschett at 2020-02-14

From the escalation in Ukraine to the bloody conflict in Palestine to the barbaric murders of the "Islamic State" in Syria and Iraq: what we are witnessing today is a plethora of highly threatening events. But while some wars are downright rocking, almost like a natural disaster, others cause the greatest excitement. In principle, however, indifference to human rights violations seems to be on the increase, certainly not least because of the devastating experience since the beginning of the last Iraq war, an infertile resignation seems to be spreading.

While the victims of the Syrian civil war are now only part of the general background noise, Israel's war against the Gaza Strip motivates hate songs and attacks on Jews, especially by Muslim immigrant groups, including many "bio-Germans".

Sound voices, such as anti-Semitism researcher Wolfgang Benz, all too quickly point out t hat the sum of anti-Semitic attitudes has indeed not increased.[1] It is just as true, however, that the war in Gaza has lowered barriers, so that attitudes have now become actions. With disastrous results: a slogan like "Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight" alone! "many in Germany would no longer have thought it possible to say nothing of the various direct attacks and attacks on Jews.

The fact that this hatred is breaking out so brutally in Germany is a new "quality" of anti-Semitism. Apparently, the Gaza war provides a welcome opportunity for those who are anti-Semitic in any case to live out their anti-Semitic attitudes openly in the form of Israeli hostility.

Indeed, while it is true that the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians in the West Bank does not in any way cause all the instability in the Middle East, as is all too well implied by interested groups, it is also true that the State of Israel for the mental sensitivity of Western societies, especially Germany and the USA, plays a major role.

War without proportionality

So much so, unfortunately, against the background of latent but also new anti-Semitic sentiments, the latest outbreak of hatred and violence was to be expected, so little does it escape the duty to judge the Israeli campaign accurately: moral, legal, but above all political.

Morally, in view of the dignity and vulnerability of each individual, the Israeli campaign against Gaza, with its near-2000 deaths, including civilians and countless children, is in no way justified.

Legally speaking, however, the perspective shifts: since the world of states and similar entities is (or should be) not morally (or should be) ordered according to principles, but by international law, the assessment is different. Indeed, international war law accepts so-called "collateral damage". Thus, Article 51 of the Geneva Additional Protocol of 1949 prohibits attacks on civilians only if they are not "proportionate to an expected concrete and immediate military advantage."

It is immediately apparent that the problem with this legal standard lies in the required "proportionality". While some, such as Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, boast of an Israeli "genocide" against the Palestinians, Israeli friends see the campaign as a moderate, almost minimally invasive intervention in the service of the right to self-defence.

Irrationality on both sides

But both sides are wrong: with the Iron Dome, which largely defends the missile terror, Israel's air sovereignty is almost reached, which is why major "collateral damage" among the Palestinian civilian population cannot be legitimised.

On the other hand, it is more difficult to assess the ground offensive with the aim of destroying the tunnels serving terrorist attacks. Since Hamas is using it to secure civilian facilities and housing, Israel's action in this case may still be justified under international war law. Of course, the high number of Palestinian civilian casualties shows that the'proportionality'required by international law is scarcely in place.

However, if, according to Prussia's military mastermind Carl von Clausewitz, war is always the continuation of politics by other means, it becomes clear that this approach to arms must be judged primarily politically. But then it turns out that the war that the Israeli army and the Hamas militias are waging, operating separately but united, is ultimately waged jointly against the civilian population of Gaza, is nothing more than the military expression of highly irrational attitudes on both sides. While anti-Semitic Hamas has still not realised that it cannot defeat Israel either by suicide bombers or by terror from the air or the ground, the political majority of Jewish Israelis still do not understand that even the patient settlement policy makes any peace impossible. With continued settlement policy and the strangulation of Gaza, months or years of non-war are at best to be expected, always interrupted by recurring bloody arms movements.

But even the mantra repeated by all Israeli governments that only direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians lead to a "two-state solution" is now refuted. International politics must finally understand that the political majorities of Israel, as well as a decisive minority among the Palestinians, will simply not be able to conclude peace on their own for the foreseeable future. It is therefore time for the world's (still) competent powers, the US, Russia and the EU, Israel and the Palestinians, to dictate a two-state solution. The political levers are ready: Thus, the US would only have to borrow and supply arms (2013 was the 3rd billion. To freeze the ultra-right coalition government in Jerusalem, while other Western states would have stopped their relations with the supporters of Hamas, like Qatar, whether by refusing the World Cup 2022.

Last chance

The German Foreign Minister, cautiously as he is, has proposed a'CSCE'for the Middle East. In fact, however, it can only be a dictatorship, a peace treaty. Only an external peace can relieve Arabs and Jews and thus create the conditions they need to reach an agreement, given the inevitable.

It is possible that the Gaza war, triggered by the murder of Jewish and Arab youths, but by no means caused by it, subsequently means the event that was necessary in order to force Israelis and Palestinians to make that peace which they apparently cannot make on their own. After all, American support for the Netanyahu government is increasingly waning. The massive criticism of the Israeli bombing policy, as well as the suspension of American flights to Israel in the meantime, were clear signs of this.

But it is equally conceivable that, if peace efforts fail, this war will prove to be the last chance to stop Israel's path to apartheid. Unfortunately, there is much to be said for the latter: former heads of Israeli intelligence, most recently Juval Diskin, have shown that the return of half a million Jewish settlers in Jerusalem and the West Bank is already scarcely possible. This, however, and with a Gaza that is permanently unsatisfied, the geographical conditions for a "two-state solution" are no longer in place. Each view of a map of the West Bank with its various zones and streets, where only Israeli cars are allowed to drive, shows a territorial patchwork that avoids any unified statehood, from the violent attacks by right-wing Israeli settlers on their Palestinian neighbours. Not to mention...

If the settlement continues, Israel and the territories occupied by it will eventually become, as the US Secretary of State John Kerry rightly said, an apartheid state. In comparison with South Africa before 1990's, Kerry was not about racism, but about the indication that there, for decades, a white minority has excluded the black majority from democratic self-determination. In Israel, on the borders of 1967, there are currently more than six million Jews and slightly less than two million Arabs; in the West Bank, including the eastern part of Jerusalem, there are half a million Jews and over two million Arabs. And even today, the proportion of Arab residents in Israel and the West Bank is expected to increase continuously. The fact that this apartheid state is the exact opposite of what the early Zionists dreamed was hardly worth mentioning.

But one hope remains: crises, in both individual and political life, also offer opportunities. It may be that the Gaza war is perhaps Israel's last chance to save Zionism. However, if this last chance is lost, the Zionist project, which has always been about more than one Jewish-dominated state, over a hundred years old, will irrevocably fail, without prejudice to the fact that the State of Israel, which has the fourth largest army in the world, is not to be defeated militarily.

Remove firewalls

The conflict in Palestine offers the permanent members of the UN Security Council, whose cooperation is currently at a low point, the ideal opportunity, at least in one area, to show unity again. Unfortunately, the war in Ukraine and the murderous civil war in Syria and Iraq demonstrate that the major powers are currently apparently unwilling to act together.

In fact, it is precisely for internal political reasons that Western states have a great interest in a de-escalation, because here, as in our neighbour France, hatred of Jews is breaking ever stronger and violent ground. But if the Middle East is not to be satisfied, at least the inner peace of our societies should be ensured, through an intensified interreligious dialogue between Jews, Christians and Muslims, as well as through educational work, especially in urban areas with young people from Arab-Islamic countries of origin. In their case, frustration at the lack of integration in Germany may be one, but it is also just one, cause of the escalation of violence: since one cannot be open to the host country with its precarious status, the conflict in the Middle East must be held to account.

However, the example of France shows that the issue of nationality cannot seem to play a decisive role: in France, unlike here, migrants do not have a precarious status of residence. They are French and still protest, and even more massively, against Israel and "the Jews". But they too are not well integrated socially and professionally, just as the migrants are with us. This is probably why anti-Semitism is growing even more strongly in France than in the Federal Republic.

The Cross Front: An unholy alliance

Here, moreover, it can be observed, perhaps even more clearly than in France, that the enemy-friend mentality is not only found in Muslim immigrant communities, but can also be traced back to old resentments in the "biodiesel" population.

What is currently gathering here is a new unholy alliance, made up of left-wing anti-imperialists, quite a few supporters of the radical right, the NPD, migrant youth, Salafist groups and, last but not least, a new national-neutral alliance. This "cross-front", inspired and directed by the former anti-German publicist Jurgen Elsaser, is an expression of the new quality of anti-Semitism, which is why it will need to be observed more closely in the future. It is trying to unite left and right to act against Israel, the US and the West.

In addition to strengthening integration measures, it will therefore also be important to pursue anti-Semitic crimes firmly. That is why it was a mistake for the Berlin Public Prosecutor to classify the anti-Semitic calls to the demonstrations not as an affront to the people, but merely as an insult. It is precisely at this point that political firewalls need to be firmly erected. More, as fatalistic as it sounds, is hardly possible at the moment anyway.