Thursday, December 6, 2012

Germany and Israel - It's Time For Attitude Alteration

"A Palestinian shoots a rocket, and Israel answers with a fighter jet.  Both sides kill civilians.  It doesn't matter which side kids are on."

This view, a view apparently supported by many others, was expressed by Jonathan Logan, a 23 year old German whose previous pro-Israel attitude has recently shifted.

There are at least a couple of reasons to be disturbed by this attitude.  First, and foremost, is the drawing of equivalency of guilt for casualties inflicted on Israelis with those inflicted on the Palestinians.  Somehow the need to remind the world of the long history of this seemingly un-ending conflict, appears to be un-ending itself!  Without going into the history, can equality of blame really exist when one side deliberately fires on civilians in the absence of direct provocation, while the other, in response, targets only military and terrorist sites.  Yes innocents are injured and killed.  But equivalence of blame - hardly!

When the death of an innocent occurs,  cause makes a great difference.  The accidental death of a child is not equivalent to the murder of a child.  Yes, two children are dead - but the manner of their death DOES matter!  There is not equivalence of guilt!

Next disturbing point - the Germany-Israel bond.  Nina Müller, a German mother was quoted in the NY Times as saying that it was "still not possible for Germany to be more critical toward Israel.  "Because of its (Holocaust - my word) history, Germany is always cautious and diplomatic," she said  "You can't allow yourself to be very critical in another situation you might see differently."

Good old German Holocaust guilt!

I'm certainly not advocating that Germany join the countries in Europe that have condemned the recent Israeli decision to expand housing in contested areas of East Jerusalem.  But I do feel that Germans should no longer feel hostage to Holocaust history in their outlook towards Israel.  It is not the Holocaust that should be the basis for a positive position on Israel, but its feeling of concern for a small country, formed as a result of a UN resolution, and recognized by almost all nations - a country that believes in democracy, human rights, women's rights, minority rights, and freedom of religion and speech - a country whose outstanding medical care is freely available to all its neighbors, friends and enemies alike - a country that contributes to the advancement of science and art at the highest levels - a country that just wishes to co-exist with its immediate neighbors as well as its larger neighborhood called "the world."

Just imagine what the Middle East would be like if back on day 1 in 1948, Israel was recognized and welcomed by its Arab neighbors, and the West Bank and Gaza became a Palestinian state.  Does anyone truly believe that Israel would not have accepted the Palestinian state?  Does anyone truly believe that Israel would have attacked the Palestinian state in an attempt to re-establish its so-called biblical borders?

So why the conflict?  It certainly didn't begin with Israeli attacks in an attempt to "drive the Arabs into the desert."  It began with Arab-led attacks, in an attempt to "drive the Israelis into the sea." The situation we have today is not more than the result of ongoing Israeli resistance to those Arab aims.  Somehow it seems very difficult for many people to grasp this very simple issue.

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