Freitag, 25. Juli 2014

Israel - two standpoints

A friend living in France wrote me a letter about Gaza, a few days ago. He said that the philosophy of the state of Israel since the war in 1967 was "Either we will win or we will perish." I believe that this is correct, although in a short expression. Prime Minister Netanyahu, too, summarizes this thinking, saying:"If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there will be peace tomorrow. If Israel lays down its weapons today, there will be no more Israel tomorrow.“And also what my Israeli Facebook friends write sounds quite similar. The fight of our army is directed against an enemy who wants our physical destruction. We must avoid that at all costs.

From this standpoint any discussion about whether there should be moral limits in the choice of means - such as the prevention of the death of women and children – is hard to think of. The extent of the destruction of Jewish life under Hitler after 1940, if known before, would have allowed all means to prevent the Holocaust, even an atomic bomb on Berlin.

And since Hamas – no doubt about that – would like to bring about a Holocaust in the same dimension, it must be fought with all means. This is the first standpoint.

To allow here for a second view at all, you have to be, as a German, very seriously committed towards Israel, and towards the avoidance of any attempt to repeat the Holocaust. Only after this is clear, we might cautiously begin to think in terms of the Palestinian victims and to ask whether the Israeli state philosophy is correct and - if one affirms also that - whether the simple "either / or" contained in it will lead to reasonable and appropriate political decisions..

If this question is not prohibited, then the disparity and contradiction comes into view that exists between the inability of the Palestinians in Gaza, born out of their poverty, on the one hand and its presumed target, the expulsion or extermination of Israelis on the other hand. The Palestinians are weak. They could not inflict any significant damage on Israel in recent years. Although there have been people killed - and every death is a great misfortune – the outcome in the eyes of a critical public opinion around the world seems to be that it is ever more difficult to explain where the danger is that the Holocaust really might be repeated.

That means:  although one might affirm the political philosophy of "either / or", one can nevertheless even then have doubts as to whether it is advisable to follow it with great military power. I look at the people in the rather uninvolved world – apart from the U.S., Germany and the NATO, that are always supporting Israel in principle because of its familiar open democracy - and I do not see the willingness in these bystanders to understand the philosophy of the state of Israel and to accept it. Probably hardly anyone knows about this philosophy, say in India and Brazil. But hardly anyone there will ever forget the cruel images from Gaza, which are provided through the Internet day by day.

In the eyes of these people - and I would estimate that there are billions around the globe - Israel will soon be losing its moral war. Israel would then suffer from what its political philosophy is trying to avoid: it would perish - not in the sense of physical destruction, but in the sense of falling out of the respect of the international community of nations.

If this danger is recognized, then criticism of the strategy in Gaza is allowed. This strategy is the wrong approach because it cannot finally prove to the world that there is the danger of a second Holocaust. It has no regard for the life of women and children in Gaza. Taken it all together that makes it - as the Paris police chief Joseph Fouché famously said about the execution of an opponent arranged by Napoleon - "not a crime, it is more: it is a mistake. "

This is the second standpoint. Which one is correct remains to be seen when the world community responds.

P. S. Shortly after writing this article I read that Brazil has recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv, in protest against the violence in Gaza.

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