"Israel is a fake," says Falid, the approximately 30-year old Druze in Katzrin, capital of the Golan Heights on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, 1967 captured by Israel. Falid runs a small canteen for the people from the surrounding industrial area and opens it for other visitors like us, too. Falids parents became Israeli citizens, and so Falid also has an Israeli passport yet wants to emigrate rather sooner than later. "Israel raises its children to disintegrate," he says, the Jews are brought up in the awareness to be something better.
"If Israel was Serbia, we'd have bombed Israel into the stone age 30 years ago," writes Marc, the 43 year-old government employee from Washington, in a heated Facebook discussion with Israelis and Palestinians. He holds – together with Jewish friends in the U.S. – the opinion that Israel is abusing its position of power and is becoming more and more of an unjust regime.
His argument that certainly speaks to the heart of many Palestinians: only that State has a right to exist that deserves it through good and righteous behavior.
Why do these opinions give me a pain in my neck? As a German who was born only a few years after World War II in a nation that has a long and dark history with the Jews, I can probably better empathize with the feelings of the elderly Israelis. They have, for anything in the world the one and only wish: that the existence of their people is never bound to a condition, not to a single one.
Marc may be right - a rogue state gambles away its right to international recognition. But can that refer to a country that defines itself first and foremost as a community of people whose existence has been repeatedly and brutally called into question, at almost all times in history?
With some surprise, I have experienced the strong will of a number of young Palestinians to one day reclaim the former Palestinian city of Haifa from Israel. My peace-loving friend Avi from Tel Aviv has reacted appalled at comments into that direction, made by several people on Facebook. He did not say so, but it was for sure on his mind: if these ideas are alive in large parts of the Palestinian people then any peace agreement is a fraud because it formally fixes a status quo that secretly is planned to be altered in the end.
And if the will to peace does not actually exist then you have to agree – terrible idea for the peace loving Avi – with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who, out of distrust in the Palestinians refuses to talk with them and barely hides the pursue of an annexation of the occupied territories.
Is there a way out? With rationally thinking people a number of strategies are conceivable. But are the parties thinking rational? My impression is, no – so you have to go accept the emotionality of others in order to reach a goal. I am thinking of Hamze who as a young Palestinian student visited the Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem and understood the deep hurt of the Jews. This is the way of learning and understanding that many Palestinians still have to go. And conversely, it may need Israelis to join Palestinian, a man with no State and no rights on his humiliating way through the check points and the cages there to look into the soul of the other.
And then people have to come from outside that draw an unvarnished picture of the possible ways today, draw it in friendship. Maybe the Turks can, maybe the Turks and we Germans can do it together. And to this ways belongs, on the Palestinian side the willingness to give up positions and, on the Israeli side a will to recognize the Palestinians as brothers, to make their freedom and their welfare a national goal of the State of Israel.
Haifa has to belong to the Jews and the future in an own free State to the Palestinians.