The State of Israel is more than fifty years old. The official Israeli propaganda in Germany is busy to present the achievements of the State of Israel with the full support of the media. In this atmosphere of elation one factor is almost forgotten, the Palestinians, for whom the 50th birthday means national disaster, expulsion, exile, homelessness, in short, an endless suffering. In the midst of those festivities, in May 1998 appeared a very extensive and sober book by Dr. Ludwig Watzal, which was now published in English. Dr. Ludwig Watzal, the author of Peace without Justice? Israel and the Human Rights of the Palestinians, Cologne 1994, is dealing in his present detailed study with the history of the conflict from the beginning of the Jewish colonization of Palestine at the end of the 19th century till to day. The author analyses thoroughly the Oslo Accords between PLO and Israel, the Israeli policy of settlements, dispossession, closures and the economic dependence of the Palestinians. He describes the constant Israeli human rights violations in defiance of International Law, till this very day. He deals too with the human rights violations of the PNA with Jewish and Palestinian fundamentalism, with terror acts. The author dedicates a special study to the antagonistic contradictions within the Israeli society in their historical and present context.
In the first chapter, dealing with the history of Palestine and Israel, the author describes the colonialist and excIusivist character of the Zionist theory and practice and the dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian population, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. "The slogan of Israel Zangwill -for people without land-land without people-, was in full conformity with the expansionist spirit of the era", so the author. In the chapter dealing with the history of establishment of the State of Israel the reader has the opportunity to make an acquaintance with the "new historians" of Israel, popular now in Israel. They have proved, inter alia, with the help of archive's documents, that the official Israeli myth, that the exodus of the Palestinians from the country both before and after establishment of Israel was initiated and caused by the Arab leadership was a sheer lie. In fact, the flight was prompted by Israel 's political and military leaders, who believed that Zionist colonization and statehood necessitated the "transfer of Palestinian Arabs to Arab countries". The author is quoting the expulsion orders of Ben Gurion, emphasizing the word "to clean", with all its connotations. Also the formal Zionist acceptance of the UNO Partition Resolution of November 29th was no more as a tactical move in the overall Zionist strategy. According to the "new historians" Ben Gurion profoundly opposed the creation of a Palestinian State, having in mind an increase of the territory assigned by the UN to the Jewish State. In a chapter dealing with the wars in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors the author criticizes the media especially in USA and in Germany because of their one sided attitude, namely that all the wars were war of defense of Israel. He quotes Moshe Dayan´s interview, which was post mortem published in 1997 in which he admitted that Israel took the chance in June 1967 to conquer the Golan Heights. Watzal is quoting the opinion of an Israeli intellectual, Professor Israel Shahak about Israel´s hegemonic aims in the Middle East. This view is very rare in Germany, although it has nowadays quite many adherents in Israel.
One of the most interesting and informative chapters of this significant book is the chapter about the "peace process" and the analysis of the Oslo Accords. The author's opinion, shared to day by many is, that the peace process was not the beginning of the Palestinian emancipation, but rather the beginning of its end, because the oppressed have legitimized their oppressor, before the oppression was terminated. The author quotes Edward Said, who described the "Declaration of Principles", 1993, as a document of surrender. The author is quoting too some well known Israeli peace activists who have declared, that the true meaning of the DOP was a continuation of the occupation of the Palestinian territories with other means, more comfortable to Israel. A kind of an occupation "de luxe". The Oslo Accords caused only some cosmetic changes, and the development has nothing to do with a real peace. It is rather a subjugation of the Palestinians in all fields, including the economic one, while the oppression of the Palestinians continues. The author scrutinizes in depth the Accords in order to prove his thesis. The maps of the West Bank, as a part of the book serve as an excellent illustration of the sad reality showing the "Bantustanisaton" of the territories, fully supporting the author's contentions. The author is reviewing the settlement's activity of Rabin and Peres, with a tacit consent of the PNA, the massive building of Apartheid by-pass roads for the settlers. The number of settlers increased during the years of the rule of the "peace-loving" government by 48%. The facts are almost unknown in Germany, because these activities were covered with the cloak of "peace process".- The author is analyzing the poisonous political climate of the Israeli extreme right which led to the assassination of the Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and to the victory of Netanyahu, also due to the election’s campaign of the Labor, which meant a pure imitation of Likud. It was obvious, that people always prefer the original. The author is describing the disastrous policy of Netanyahu and his government, his provocative settlement activity, undermining any kind of peace process.
A special chapter deals with the continued human rights violations of the Palestinians by Israel as tortures, willful killings, arbitrary detentions, settlement policy, dispossession, the "quiet deportation” of Palestinians from Jerusalem, house demolitions, the closure of the territories as a colIective punishment in defiance of International Law. The PNA too violates
the human rights of the Palestinians. The author enumerates instances of tortures, death in detention, persecution of human rights activists, arrests without due legal process, lack of freedom of press and democracy, etc. He describes the State Security Court, established by the PNA as a scandal. All this occurs under Israeli and American pressure, but it cannot serve as an excuse.
In the chapter on Israel’s international relations Watzal argues that Israel is a regional power, which got during the years the status of a big power, possessing nuclear weapons, prompted and supported by the USA as an American ally against the Arab nationalism. The American veto in the UN protects Israel from condemnation in the wake of its breaches of International Law. USA exercises a double strategy, as to the solution of the conflict: on the face of it they promote the maxim "land for peace", but in reality they bloc the true implementation of the resolution 242, by tolerating and even more than that the Israeli settlement policy. As to the policy of the EU in the Middle East, it is just a failure not to translate the economic power into a political influence. The interference of Europe is inevitable, for the sake of a just peace, which is also vital for Europe.
The author is pleading for a normalization of the German-Israeli relations, including the right of the Germans, despite of their past, to criticize Israel, without the false accusation that criticizing Israel means anti-Semitism. The Holocaust can not serve as an excuse for the Israeli evil practices against the Palestinians, in defiance of International Law. The author is quoting extensively Israeli peace and human rights activists, supporting his contention. To promote such an attitude in Germany (by a German) requires civil courage, taking into consideration the German past and the instrumentalization of it by Israel, for its political purposes.
The chapter "Israel between the western democracy and religious fundamentalism" deals with the deep or even abyss within the Israeli society, the assassination of Rabin with all its dangerous implications, and with the roots of the political and religious extremism. The chapter deals too with the culture of militarism in Israel and its reasons, with "Post-Zionism" etc. The author's assumption is, that only a new beginning will be able to save the dying peace process and to secure peace with justice in the Middle East. The idea is a new international peace conference with the participation of the UNO, EU, USA and Russia, including all the parties involved. Israel and the USA vehemently reject this idea, anxious to lose their political power. The future of the Middle East does not look promising at the moment, but it can change, because the history is open, concludes the author. Watzal does not expect a fundamental change under Ehud Barak. He sees him in the tradition of colonial Zionism. He will force an final agreement upon Arafat and he will swallow it. The prospects of a just peace under the present "left wing" government are rather dim.Comments
In the midst of the worldwide
Zionist propaganda fest occasioned
by Israel’s 50th anniversary this year, a very somber and extensively
documented book appeared in Germany: normal">The Enemies of Peace.
Felicia Langer, News From Within (Jerusalem), Vol. XIII, No. 8, September 1998
This book puts the dots
on the letters and should be considered as hitting the bull’s eye.
Dr. Izzedin Musa, Ad-Dustour (Jordan), 20 October 1998
The greatest quality of
the book of Ludwig Watzal is found in his global approach to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, on which he is one of the most knowledgeable people in Germany.
Le Monde Diplomatique (France), April 1999
One of the most comprehensive,
most competent, but unfortunately also most pessimistic publications that has
been published for a long time.
International – Zeitschrift für International Politik (Austria), 3/1998
Whoever wants to inform
himself/herself in an unprejudiced manner regarding Israel must read this book.
It offers insights into a country that are elsewhere considered taboo.
Sicherheitspolitik, Politique de Sécurité, Politica di Sicurezza (Switzerland), No. 1, January 1999
Watzal makes no secret of the fact that his heart beats stronger for the Palestinian side (…) The author points with his finger to the cardinal mistake of the peace process: the imbalance. The book – rich of facts and engaging – has a sobering effect. After reading it optimists may raise the objection that even bad agreements and an icy peace were better than hot wars, while pessimists will find their opinion confirmed, i.e., that for the time being, the Near East will not become a peaceful region.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – FAZ (Germany), 3 March 1999