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Gaza 1, Gaza 2, and What Now, Peace?

THE LEVANT – Anis Hamadeh, http://www.anis-online.de/1/essays/29.htm (bilingual) – The event comes before the news. Gaza 1 brought more than 1400 dead between 27 Dec. 08 and 18 Jan. 09, more than 900 of them civilians, as well as 13 Israelis. We remember the phosphorus clouds above the Gaza Strip that were gratefully adopted by many media outlets for their blaze of color. Five years and a half later (8 Jul. – 26. Aug. 14) we witnessed Gaza 2 with more than 2100 dead, among them almost 500 children, as well as 67 Israelis, 64 of them soldiers. I do not count in the attack in November 2012, as it did not have the same international shock impact with fewer than 200 casualties. This is where we are today. Gaza 3 is not a topic for the media, as it did not happen yet. But who knows, maybe there will be peace now.

 

The ceasefire agreement after Gaza 2 included the loosening of the illegal and inhumane blockade which, however, was not implemented. (1) So the Gazans continue to bear the consequences, while Israel’s genocide remains scot-free. “Genocide”: this is how an official EU delegation described Gaza 2 in September, (2) and Bolivia declared Israel a terrorist state. In order to avoid further harsh criticism, Israel recently denied a UN human rights committee entry to Gaza for examination purposes and blamed it for “obsessive hostility”. (3) The Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, who saved many lives in Gaza 2, was banned from Gaza, too. (4) For life, by the way, which means that the Jewish state plans to keep Gaza under occupation for a long time to come.

– Reasons for Gaza 2 –

When the Israeli offensive began, rocket fire on Israel – especially by Hamas – had for quite some time been at an historic low, a circumstance that could have been utilized for making peace. (5) Neither was the abduction of three youths the real reason for the broad scope attack, for it became known that Israel had knowledge about the fact that the young settlers were no longer alive as early as hours after the abduction and later admitted that Hamas was not responsible for the kidnapping in the West Bank (!). (6) Thus the official explanatory statements have proven to be invalid, as have, by the way, the ones concerning Gaza 1 before. (7) So why Gaza 2?

“Mowing the lawn” has for some years been the prevailing metaphor in the Israeli Gaza policy; (8) it turns human beings into blades of grass. The flattening of whole streets of houses and neighborhoods shows that the soldiers took the metaphor quite literally. The lawn is growing fast and has to be cut regularly. So how can it be possible to make peace with it? In case the real reason for the attack was Israel’s intention to escalate the situation the soldiers were very successful. Pressure on Gaza increased even more, as well as the danger of further atrocities. The action definitively did not lead to more security for Israel, either.

The fact that Israel does not only regard Hamas as an enemy, but all Palestinians who oppose inequality, became clear again recently when 22-year-old Kheir al-Din Hamdan in Kafr Kana/Israel was killed, one of many who met their death under unexplained circumstances. For Prime Minister Netanyahu and other leading politicians in the country, the protests after Hamdan’s death gave rise to the need to examine if those people, who “act against the state” among the Arab fifth of Israel’s population, can be stripped of their citizenship, and to suggest to the protesters to leave Israel, (9) a position, that has been on Foreign Minister Lieberman’s agenda for some time. If we further consider that Israelis have torched ten mosques in the West Bank and Israel since June 2011, two in this month alone, without even one charge being issued, (10) and that this is merely one of many examples of systematic discrimination, the reproach of racism as a reason for Gaza 2 is on the table with all its weight.

– Reactions of the West: The Case of Germany –

On 22 July 2014, the major TV news program “Tagesthemen” stated: “The Middle East crisis, it stirs people up, also in Germany. Protests and criticism, this is, of course, in order and their right. But …” Here followed warnings against anti-Semitism. If you participate in demonstrations – this is the allusion – you mingle with anti-Semites. This quote renders the German mainstream opinion rather well: In theory protest is in order, in practice it isn’t. “Mainstream” here does not refer to the majority of the population, but it represents the reason of state (raison d’état) that is carried out by leading politicians, journalists and entrepreneurs.

It is no surprise then that Sigmar Gabriel, Minister for Economic Affairs and Vice Chancellor, authorized the export of detonators to Israel with a high symbolic value while Gaza 2 was still ongoing (11) and that less than three weeks after the genocide there was a demonstration at the Brandenburger Tor, with Chancellor Merkel, Federal President Gauck, SPD chief Gabriel and high-ranking church representatives. Despite the hype, only 4000 people attended the rally, which speaks for itself. “Enough is enough!”, the President of the Central Council of the Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, ranted, “the Jews in Germany ‘truly did not experience a summer’s fairytale’, he said in view of the slogans hostile to Jews on pro-Palestinian demonstrations that became loud in Germany, too. ‘I don’t want to dramatize, but these really were the worst anti-Semitic slogans in many, many decades.'” (12)

He does not want to dramatize. Ironically, one month earlier, more than 350 survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide condemned Gaza 2 in words that went unquoted on the mentioned rally: “We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water. We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!” (13)

This kind of statement in our country is regarded as profoundly anti-Semitic. So what are we supposed to do, when survivors of the holocaust turn against the reason of state so “full of hate”? Right, we ignore them. At least this rift makes clear that the flips and twists of the powerful do not have the least to do with arguments, with Jews or with German history. Otherwise, this potent quote would at least be discussed. Rather, the ubiquitous reproach of anti-Semitism is a pure exertion of power: Whoever expresses it belongs to the club or can pretend to belong to it, especially when the reproached one loses and disappears from the discourse or becomes irrelevant or at least damaged. Here I could add a list of several dozens of concerned individuals, among them such illustrious names as Bishop Tutu and Jimmy Carter.

In this context it makes sense to point to the representative Konstanz Jena study on attitudes toward the Middle East conflict from spring 2014. One amazing result of this study was: Those people, who in Germany today side with Israel in the Middle East conflict, “approve violent means of conflict resolution: There are almost no people who side with Israel while aspiring to solve the conflict peacefully.” And: “Newspaper articles on the conflict written on the basis of the values of peace and humanity are regarded by friends of Israel as immediately directed against Israel.” (14)

The most recent scandal in this power game was the defamation of two journalists critical of Israel: David Sheen and Max Blumenthal, by the politicians Volker Beck, Petra Pau and Reinhold Robbe in an open letter to the theater Volksbühne. In it, the two were reproached with anti-Semitism and one-sidedness in order to get their talk canceled. They were invited by some members of the Left Party, and the talk was held anyway, only in a different location. Later they also spoke in a conference room of the German Bundestag, something the chairman of the Left Party, Gregor Gysi, sought to prevent. Sheen and Blumenthal therefore wanted to take Gysi to task and also to show him a photo of the German al-Kilani family that died in Gaza 2, and ask why this is not an issue for Gysi. Gysi did not talk with the two and instead went wordlessly through the corridor, while Sheen talked at him. The fact that Sheen in the filmed scene spoke about “Stasi methods” seems pardonable to me in view of the scope of the ostracism, as Sheen, all in all, largely remained fact-bound. In the wake of this episode, the outrage against Sheen and Blumenthal in the German media was greater by far than any outrage against Gaza had ever been; (15) “hysterical” is the appropriate word for it. Anti-Semitism articles in Germany and many other countries are a special category to confirm the reason of state on a regular basis.

This German tenor vis-à-vis the Israeli policy is flanked by a focusing on the extremes in Islam, drumming the “dangers of Islam” into the media consumers: salafism, terrorism, honor killings, veiling etc. Up to this day, people excitedly discuss the “nature” of Islam on a level that would have made the almost-Muslim Goethe turn pale. This superficial discourse, which I can only sketch here, probably is the most striking example of our decadence, particularly as many arguments can – I’m sorry: could – be applied just as well to Christendom and Judaism, and as political developments and causes are gratefully obscured with religious interpretations, also in the Israel Palestine problem. Fostering the bogeyman image of islam and Arabs supports the currently Hamas-fixated (16) Israeli propaganda and makes people blind for an objective analysis. I can speak from my own experience here because being the son of a Muslim Palestinian I have been looked at with disapproval many a time in my own country – Germany, and my social promotion prospects are limited, to put it this way. But I am apparently not the Thank-you-Germany-Kermani kind, (17) either, which adds to the situation. After all, the newspaper Tagesspiegel recently published an unveiling article entitled “Muslims are the new Jews” (written by a Jew), (18) which was extremely conspicuous and showed that from time to time even the mainstream media sheer out of line.

– Gaza 3 –

Gaza 3 is – I mentioned it in the beginning – not an issue for the media, as it did not happen yet. As the political situation has not changed, but slowly escalated since the Oslo “negotiations” in the nineties, and especially as Gaza 1 and 2 remained without consequences for Israel, we are moving straight toward Gaza 3 or something comparable in the West Bank, in East Jerusalem or Israel, even though donor states will spend billions of (non-Israeli) tax funds now for the reconstruction of Gaza, to ease the symptoms. The lawn will have to be mown again, the Israeli policy leaves no doubt about that.

Again we will be shocked. Again the media will equate rocket fire, a mixture of resistance and destructive act of desperation, with the far superior Israeli army. It will not acknowledge the reasons for desperation as arguments and will interpret Israel’s actions as defense and reaction. Chances are that the body count will again be higher. It will touch us, for many will die, children, too. How many sacrifices of humans will it take until there will be fundamental change? And how guilty will we be, each of us in his or her individual way? Will we be able to find excuses, and will we rest easy? And for how long will the heavily-armed and aggressive Israeli state exist, before it suffocates from its own violence and lack of visions for peace? No, we do not have to think about that, for it did not happen yet.

Footnotes:

  1. IRIN (2 Sep 2014): Gaza blockade – no signs of loosening: www.irinnews.org/report/100567/gaza-blockade-no-signs-of-loosening

  2. Press TV (10 Sep 2014): EU Delegation: Israel has committed genocide: www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/09/10/378256/eu-delegation-israel-has-committed-genocide/

  3. Barak Ravid (12 Nov 2014) Israel will not cooperate with “one-sided” UN probe into Gaza war:www.haaretz.com/.premium-1.626155

  4. Worldbulletin (14 Nov 2014): Israel bans Norwegian doctor from Gaza for life: www.worldbulletin.net/palestine/148378/israel-bans-norwegian-doctor-from-gaza-for-life

  5. See www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/a/GetImageAction/i/46974

  6. Max Blumenthal (08 Jul 2014): Netanyahu government knew teens were dead as it whipped up racist frenzy:http://electronicintifada.net/content/netanyahu-government-knew-teens-were-dead-it-whipped-racist-frenzy/13533

  7. See the chronology at www.anis-online.de/1/essays/gazachronologie.htm

  8. Steve Niva (07 Dec 2012): Israel’s “Operation Mow the Lawn”: www.merip.org/israels-operation-mow-lawng

  9. Jonathan Cook (13 Nov 2014): The transfer of Israeli Arabs: www.jonathan-cook.net/2014-11-13/the-transfer-of-israeli-arabs

  10. Chaim Levinson (13 Nov 2014): Ten torched mosques, zero indictments: www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.626335, siehe auch http://palsolidarity.org/2014/11/second-mosque-burnt-in-the-west-bank-this-month

  11. Gerald Traufetter (17 Aug 2014): Rüstungsexporte: Gabriel erlaubt Ausfuhr von Waffen-Zündern nach Israel:www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/gabriel-erlaubt-ruestungsexport-nach-israel-a-986580.html

  12. ND (14 Sep 2014): Tausende bei Demonstration “Nie wieder Judenhass!” Zentralratspräsident Dieter Graumann: “Genug ist genug!”: www.neues-deutschland.de/artikel/945853.tausende-bei-demonstration-nie-wieder-judenhass.html

  13. More than 350 Survivors and Descendants of Survivors and Victims of the Nazi Genocide Condemn Israel’s Assault on Gaza: http://ijsn.net/gaza/survivors-and-descendants-letter/

  14. Rolf Verleger (01 May 2014): Die Konstanz-Jenaer Studie zu Einstellungen zum Nahostkonflikt:http://othersite.org/rolf-verleger-antisemit-oder-vorurteilslos-und-interessiert-die-konstanz-jenaer-studie-zu-einstellungen-zum-nahostkonflikt-2/

  15. David Sheen (13 Nov 2014): Why I confronted Gregor Gysi: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/11/confronted-gregor-gysi/, siehe auch Ali Abunimah (11.11.2014): Video: German politician hides in toilet from truth about Israel:http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/video-german-politician-hides-toilet-truth-about-israel and Daniel Bax (12 Nov 2014): Antisemitismus-Streit führt bis zur Toilette. Eklat im Bundestag: www.taz.de/Antisemitismus-Streit-fuehrt-bis-zur-Toilette/!149319/ as well as Volker Beck, Petra Pau, Reinhold Robbe (Nov 2014): Offener Brief an die Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz: https://www.radio-utopie.de/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Brief-von-Volker-Beck-Petra-Pau-und-Reinhold-Robbe-an-Volksbuehne-wg-Veranstaltung-mit-David-Sheen-und-Max-Blumenthal.pdf

  16. See Katie Miranda’s cartoons “Hamas made me do it”: http://comics.katiemiranda.com/hamas-made-me-do-it/

  17. Navid Kermani, another German intellectual with a freaky name, thanked Germany in the German Bundestag in a particularly moving way.

  18. Armin Lange (09 Sep 2014): Muslime sind die neuen Juden: www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/rassismus-und-antisemitismus-in-deutschland-ueber-juedische-kultur-wird-oft-so-lobend-gesprochen-dass-es-schon-nervt-/10669820-2.html

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