Author Topic: German Moral Cowardice Over The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict  (Read 3295 times)

John Tinmouth

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German Moral Cowardice Over The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
« on: November 21, 2014, 03:59:46 PM »



Taking The Easy Way Out:
German Moral Cowardice Over The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Eight countries aside from Israel itself boycotted the UN conference against racism in Geneva last month, mainly because of Israel and suspicions in the West that the forum would be used to denounce the Jewish state – this aside from further walkouts by other European states following Ahmadinejad’s speech at the conference. With a sickening and depressing predictability, one of the boycotters was the US, thus continuing, under the new Obama administration, America’s abasement before its powerful and largely Jewish pro-Israel lobby. The Israeli state is, of course, and always has been, a racist state (and, before its bloody creation in 1948, was a racist, colonialist project of Zionism) – but the Yankees dare not say so. Germany was one of the remaining seven boycotting states (the others being Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Poland and Italy. All of the eight, as Seamus Milne pointed out in the Guardian, are European or European-settler states. Milne also reported that the American administration, like the other boycotting governments, “had been intensely lobbied by rightwing pro-Israel groups, who had insisted long in advance that the conference would be a ‘hatefest’.” But here we are principally concerned with the Germans, who have their own special, and dishonourable, reasons for, like the Americans, failing to even approach the possibility of being involved in any criticism of the Israeli state, and these are discussed below.

The Politics of Anti-Semitism, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair (first published in 2003), includes an article by Norman Finkelstein titled Counterfeit Courage: Reflections on “Political Correctness” in Germany. Finkelstein noted in his piece the very different receptions in Germany accorded to two of his books, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (published in Germany in 2001) and Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict (published there in 2002).

He stated that “The Holocaust Industry generated much public interest; Image and Reality relatively little. No doubt the reason is that Germans have a huge stake in the legacy of the Nazi holocaust but rather little in a just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It would seem that this order of priorities, although understandable, is to be regretted. The Nazi holocaust, however horrific and even if forever a part of Germany’s present, is - except for the handful of survivors – fundamentally a historical question. The persecution of the Palestinians is, by contrast, an ongoing horror, and it is, after all, the crimes of the Third Reich that are used to justify this persecution. In the first instance, moral action by Germans is no longer possible; in the second, it plainly is.” [our italics]

The Holocaust Industry prompted “huge media interest” [in Germany], Finkelstein states. “Germans, I was told, could not be trusted to honestly debate Jewish misuses of the Nazi genocide (the subject of The Holocaust Industry) … [the book] somewhat succeeded, I think, at breaking a harmful taboo … it seems that The Holocaust Industry did stimulate a sober – and much-needed – debate among ordinary Germans.”

In the case of the new edition of the later book on the Israel-Palestine conflict, Finkelstein reflects [the article was written some six years ago], “ … if Germans [after recently voting into power a coalition with a resolute anti-war platform] weren’t now ready to honestly debate the Israel-Palestine conflict, when would they be? … my new book would perhaps break the taboo on German public discussion of Israel’s brutal occupation. With Palestinians facing an unprecedented catastrophe … the stakes loom particularly large … It’s still too soon to gauge the popular reaction to the Israel-Palestine book. What can already be discerned, however, is the persistence among politically correct Germans of a pronounced animus to my work.”

Finkelstein said in his article that he was subjected to a “relentless campaign [in Germany] of ad hominem vilification after publication of The Holocaust Industry … the personalized attack on the messenger was a deliberate tactic to evade confronting the bad news that the Nazi holocaust had become an instrument of political and financial gain.” (There is a pre-echo here of the vilification campaign and personalised attacks in America to which Professors Mearsheimer and Walt would be subjected when they, some years later, produced their article [in 2006] and book [in 2007] exposing the workings and operations in America of The Israel Lobby. It is now widely realised that these are the standard tactics everywhere of Zionists and their apologists and fellow-travellers.) Finkelstein continues: “Such venomous attacks on a Jew and the son of Holocaust survivors [himself] are altogether unique in German public life which is otherwise ever so tactful and discreet on all things Holocaust. One can’t but wonder what accounts for them.”

He goes on: “In fact, the Holocaust has proved to be a valuable commodity for politically correct Germans. By ‘defending’ Holocaust memory and Jewish elites against any and all criticism, they get to play-act at moral courage. What price do they actually pay, what sacrifice do they actually make, for this ‘defense’? Given Germany’s prevailing cultural ambience and the overarching power of American Jewry, such courage in fact reaps rich rewards … To account for Germany’s obsession with the Nazi holocaust, a German friend explained that Germans ‘like to carry a load’. To which I would add: especially if it’s light as a feather.”

And more from Finkelstein’s critique:
•“No doubt some Germans of the post-war generation genuinely accept the burden of guilt together with its paralyzing taboos on independent, critical thought. But today German political correctness is all a charade of pretending to accept the burden of being German while actually rejecting it. For, what is the point of these interminable public breast-beatings except to keep reminding the world: ‘We are not like them.’ ”
•“It can also be safely said that politically correct Germans know full well that, more often than not, the criticism levelled against Israeli policy and misuse of the Holocaust is valid. In private conversation (as I’ve discovered) they freely admit to this.”
•“They profess to fear that if Jewish [Israeli? – our own comment] abuses become public knowledge, it will unleash a tidal wave of anti-Semitism. Is there really any likelihood of this happening in Germany today? And isn’t vigorous and candid debate the best means to stem an anti-Semitic tide: exposing the abuses of the Jewish establishment [and of the Israelis? – our own comment] as well as the demagogues who exploit these abuses for nefarious ends?”
•“What politically correct Germans really fear, I suspect, is the loss of power and privilege attendant on challenging the uncritical support of all things Jewish.”
•“ … their public defense of the indefensible not only breeds cynicism in political life but, far from combating anti-Semitism amongst Germans, actually engenders it.”
•“Isn’t this duplicity typically credited to a dread of, or a desire to curry favor with, a presumed all-powerful Jewry? One can’t but wonder what thoughts run through the heads of politically correct Germans about Jews when the ones they typically consort with prostrate themselves before in unctuous penance, and publicly laud [those who] are known to be the worst sort of hucksters.”

Brave Finkelstein ends magnificently:
•“The challenge in Germany today is:
◦to defend the memory of the Nazi holocaust and [our italics] to condemn its abuse by American Jewish elites
◦to defend Jews from malice and [our italics] to condemn their overwhelmingly blind support for Israel’s brutal occupation.
•But to do this requires moral courage – not the operatic kind that politically correct Germans so love.”

Given the politically correct German absence from the UN conference against racism last month, as described in the opening paragraph, sadly it does not seem that Germany has advanced much in the six years since Finkelstein wrote his piece. This is doubly unfortunate when the opportunity afforded by the coming to power of the new Obama administration in America is considered.

The Obama administration has stated that it will invite Israeli, ­Palestinian and Egyptian leaders to the White House within the next few weeks (for separate, rather than round-table, talks), in a new bid to achieve peace in the Middle East. The likelihood (some would say the near-certainty) is that Obama and his people in the Home Of The Brave and The Land Of The Free won’t have the bottle or the political will to take on the pro-Israel lobby, end America’s long-time and amoral support of the Israelis no matter what they do, and consider for once the Palestinian people, their human rights, and their continuing and brutal oppression at Israeli hands. To do this, Obama and his team would need to act decisively and, above all, swiftly, compelling if necessary an equitable settlement of the conflict on the Israelis on pain of an immediate withdrawal of all American military and economic aid, and of all diplomatic support (indeed, on pain of American full-scale diplomatic opposition). Unfortunately, there is a distinct possibility (again, some would say a near-certainty) that, like the fervently pro-Israeli Clinton administration of former days, Obama’s administration will similarly dither in the face of the inevitable Israeli procrastinations, and end up, like Clinton, cruelly prolonging Palestinian suffering for years, only to finally offer a pathetic and pitiful non-state, not viable, not independent, not a state, nothing – with the difference that this time Israel’s slow and cruel strangulation of the Palestinian people, so far advanced today, may by that time have been virtually completed – a genocide in slow motion. If such a terrible end-game were to occur, the Americans would bear a heavy, not to say major, responsibility, since without their massive and long-term military and economic aid and diplomatic support, Israel’s expansionist wars, and its continuing illegal settlements, would not have been possible.

In this situation, it is vital that the European Union acts promptly and forcefully against the Israelis until and unless they change their ways. This involves a complete ban on all EU-Israeli trade, and forceful diplomatic efforts, through the EU, UN, the ‘Quartet’ and elsewhere, for an immediate end to the Gaza siege and the Israeli occupation of all of the Occupied Territories, and for a viable Palestinian state. The EU also needs to put maximum pressure on the Americans, whose moral position over the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is now widely perceived throughout the world to be down there in the gutter with the Israelis, to swiftly do the same – a repeat of the cruel trickery of the wasted years of the Clinton “peace process” must not be allowed to happen again. This will not be easy – the EU has all too frequently been supine in the face of American pressure – some Europeans are too used to grovelling before the US (or their own local pro-Israel lobbies) to think for themselves, while others appear to be too scared of the American bully boy to cross him. The Germans are an important player in the European Union, and need to do their part.. They cannot carry on forever a penance for the sins of some of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers some 60-70 years ago. They need to end their easy and politically correct kow-towing to the Israelis (for a terrible relic from the historical past which they cannot change) and take the politically courageous course of supporting the Palestinian people in their struggle to achieve their human rights in the face of Israeli oppression (a present-day cause which they can do something about). If they do so, they may be pleasantly surprised at the number of friends they have gained, not just among the Palestinians and in the Arab and Muslim worlds, but in Europe too, and throughout the developing world.

John Tinmouth
South Tyneside Stop The War Coalition
Wednesday, 20th May, 2009
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 03:36:15 PM by John Tinmouth »