Thursday, 29 November 2012

Germany and Israel on Palestine

Until this morning, Germany together with the USA, Canada, Guatemala and let’s not forget Micronesia were the only countries that were about to vote against the Palestinian bid to become a non-member-observer-state at the UN. Now it seems that Germany has decided to abstain.

Senior Israeli government spokesmen – in various tones of brutality - have warned that if Abbas would go to the UN it would be the end of the Palestinian Authority. But then, the Israeli government has been doing its utmost to dismantle the Palestinian Authority anyway. The way the vote is going, Israel is being shown what the world thinks of its conduct and its policies. It is sadly fast becoming a pariah state. 

It must have been a hard decision for Mrs. Merkel. Supporting Israeli governments has been one of the means by which German governments have attempted to make reparation by supporting the Jewish people after the Holocaust. Yet, had Germany voted against the Palestinian bid, it would have done so against German public sentiment. Israeli policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians, its arrogant obstinacy and its deteriorating moral values have become too much even for Germany. Germans are becoming more and more anti-Israel.

Not only Germany, Israel too - instead of opposing - should vote for the Palestinian bid. 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Is Israel morally entitled to wage its current war in Gaza?

On the face of it, this should be an easy one. After all, Hamas who control the Gaza strip have been bombarding Israel with rockets and missiles for a long time. Hundreds of rockets emanating from Gaza have been making life miserable for the residents of many southern Israeli towns.

On the pragmatic level, the question should be asked what is achieved by such wars?  Will they bring down Hamas or will they convert it to recognise Israel’s right to exist? Going by past experience, this will not happen. 

This, however, assumes that the Israeli regime wants a two-state solution. If – despite its rhetoric - its purpose is to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and to continue with its colonisation of the West Bank, then such attacks on Gaza make sense. To that end, the Israeli government has systematically weakened the moderate leader Mahmoud Abbas and thereby proven to the Palestinians that moderation does not get them anywhere. The result is the strengthening of the alternative body - Hamas.

The misery of its own population shot at from Gaza is the price Israel seems to be willing to pay in order to entrench in the West Bank.

Israel may have the legal and even moral right of self-defence vis-à-vis the Hamas – However, as this seems to be part of a bigger picture, the morality of Israel’s war in Gaza is questionable. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Anecdotes from German Reading Tour

I have recently travelled around Germany reading from ”Ist es noch gut, für unser Land zu sterben?” Had interesting discussions and generally enjoyed the hospitality of the organisers.

It actually started in Basel, which of course is in Switzerland, not Germany. Before my reading event, friends invited me for tea at Les Trois Rois. As a special treat they arranged for me to see the room that was used by Theodor Herzl during his 1897 stay in Basel for the first Zionist Congress.

Occasionally things did not go to plan. The purpose of a reading tour is to promote book sales. I was therefore, not amused when on reaching the venue in Baden-Baden, I was greeted by the local bookseller who proudly showed me stacks of the… wrong book. Would I be willing to sign them?

To continue with my trip, I had planned to take the train, then I saw it and took up a friend’s offer to travel by car.

On reaching the northern town Kiel, I was greeted by a poster that invited me to an open day at the Crematorium. Bizarre is the friendliest word I can come up with.

The German term is Tag der Offenen Tür, which translates to Open Door Day. I wonder what happens if a not so young member of the public forgets or has not noticed that the Open Door Day ends at 16:00, and stays longer? At 16:00 sharp the efficient caretaker closes the door…

From there to Mainz where I had to correct the misnaming of my book on a blackboard outside the event’s venue. They decided to change the name of my book to “Lohnt es sich noch …” instead of “Ist es noch gut…” 

The one question that is repeatedly asked after such reading events is why the book has not yet been published in Israel.