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Scholars and Experts Are Urging the German Government to Rethink Its Unconditional Support of Israel

Screenshot_Brief Gaza

Screenshot from the open letter's website. It reads, “Open letter by German Middle East experts on the Gaza crisis.”

In an open letter to the German government, numerous scholars are demanding a change to the country's foreign policy in the Middle East in light of Israel's assault on Gaza, which has left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead.

The current German government like others before is supportive of Israel and its offensive against the strip. The petition is signed, amongst others, by Middle East scholars and experts working in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as famous German personalities who are concerned with the subject. It reads: 

Über einem Monat haben wir einem zerstörerischen Krieg zusehen müssen, der [...] auf Monate, möglicherweise auf Jahre hinaus die Entwicklungsperspektive des Gazastreifens beeinträchtigt und Hoffnungen auf einen dauerhaften Frieden in Nahost schmälert. Wir verurteilen die Anwendung von Gewalt zur Durchsetzung politischer Ziele. Gewalt, die sich gegen Zivilisten richtet, ist weder von militanten palästinensischen Gruppen noch von Seiten Israels zulässig.

For over a month we've had to sit and observe a destructive war which [...] will compromise any prospects of progress in the Gaza Strip and dash any hopes for long-term peace in the Middle East for months, possibly even years to come. We condemn the use of violence for the implementation of political aims. Violence aimed at civilians is unacceptable, both from Palestinian militant groups and from Israel.

According to its writers, the letter is meant to direct the focus of the debate in Germany back to the actual conflict. Due to several anti-Semitic outbursts from some protesters, the reporting on Gaza over the past few weeks has been overshadowed by a debate on anti-Semitism, and it no longer seemed feasible to promote discourse on current foreign policy in Israel. Kai Hafez, a communications expert, said in an interview with German radio station Deutschlandfunk:

Also es ist schon etwas bezeichnend, dass wir in Deutschland immer wieder kulturell orientierte Debatten über Islam und Judentum in Zeiten führen, wo man eigentlich eine politische Analyse oder sogar Kriegskritik führen müsste.

Well, it is quite typical for us to be leading a culture-oriented debate in Germany about Islam and Judaism at the times when we should actually be carrying out political analysis or even a critical review of the war.

In the letter, the German government is urged to make concrete steps towards changing their current foreign policy in the Middle East. This was – and still is – shaped by “Germany’s historical guilt” stemming from the Nazis’ systematic genocide of millions of Jews during World War II. German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke before the Knesset, the legislature of Israel, in 2008 about “Germany’s special historical responsibility for Israel's security”. And even to this day, the chancellor emphasises Israel's right to self-defence, while rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza are vehemently condemned.

The letter demands the recognition of the right to a life without fear, one which also applies to Palestinians:

Die israelische Zivilbevölkerung hat ein Recht auf ein Leben ohne Angst. Das gilt ebenso für alle Palästinenserinnen und Palästinenser. Fast 2.000 Opfer, nach UN-Schätzungen rund 80% Zivilisten, von denen wiederum nach UNICEF-Angaben bis zu 30% Kinder sind, dürfen nicht mit dem Argument des Anti-Terrorkampfes oder des Rechts auf Selbstverteidigung hingenommen werden.

The Israeli civilian population has the right to a life without fear. The same applies to all Palestinian men and women. Almost 2,000 victims – 80% of those being civilians according to the UN’s estimations, and then 30% of those being children according to information offered by UNICEF – cannot be swept under the mat by using the argument of the war on terror or the right to self-defence.

The writers of the letter are addressing some of their appeals to the German taxpayers because there are also projects funded by German tax money which are being destroyed in Gaza. The German government had already explained in 2012 that German-funded projects were being hampered or even destroyed in the Palestinian territories under Israeli control. The writers claim that, in the present conflict, almost the entire work of international development organisations, charities and NGOs working on the ground in the Gaza Strip has also been destroyed; in a material sense with the bombings, but the effects on the people are even worse. The entire civilian population is traumatised. The writers state that this situation cannot be changed through projects and that there’s a need for a wholesale policy reform, as demanded in the open letter.

The scholars urge the German government to:

  • sich für die Erreichung eines nachhaltigen Waffenstillstandes einzusetzen, der das weitere Sterben von Zivilisten auf beiden Seiten verhindert und der massiv bedrohten, überwiegend jungen Zivilbevölkerung in Gaza dauerhaften Schutz bietet;
  • gegenüber Ägypten und Israel die Aufhebung der Blockade des Gazastreifens durchzusetzen, um eine Normalisierung des Güter- und Personenverkehrs zu ermöglichen und dabei israelische Sicherheitsinteressen durch internationale Beobachter und Unterstützung zu gewährleisten;
  • Nothilfe und Wiederaufbaumaßnahmen in Gaza bereitzustellen, aber nicht ohne auch Israels völkerrechtliche Verantwortung als Besatzungsmacht für den Wiederaufbau einzufordern;
  • die bereits anerkannte, im Juni eingeschworene palästinensische Einheitsregierung und ihre Regierungsgewalt über den Gazastreifen sowie Handlungsfähigkeit in den gesamten palästinensischen Gebieten inklusive Ostjerusalems mit Nachdruck zu stärken;
  • die Tötung von Zivilisten vor und während der Angriffe auf den Gazastreifen zu untersuchen, zu einer internationalen Untersuchung aktiv beizutragen und den Beitritt Palästinas zum Internationalen Strafgerichtshof zu unterstützen. Gleichzeitig die Zerstörung ziviler Infrastruktur (so wie die Bombardierung des einzigen Elektrizitätswerkes von Gaza, Kläranlagen, Krankenhäuser etc.), die seit Jahren mit EU- und bundesdeutschen Geldern finanziert wird, zu untersuchen und Kompensation von Israel einzufordern;
  • die restriktiven deutschen Rüstungsexportbestimmungen auch im Nahen Osten auf alle Konfliktparteien anzuwenden sowie die militärische Zusammenarbeit mit Israel auf den Prüfstand zu stellen;
  • sich mit Nachdruck für ein Ende der israelischen Besatzung der palästinensischen Gebiete einzusetzen und für beide Seiten verbindliche, völkerrechtskonforme Vorschläge für eine Konfliktregelung zu machen.
  • do what it can to reach a permanent ceasefire, which would prevent the deaths of more civilians on both sides and offer long-term protection to the critically endangered, overwhelmingly young civilian population in Gaza;
  • work with Egypt and Israel to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip, in order to facilitate the normalisation of the transportation of goods and people, and then to safeguard Israeli security interests with international surveillance and support;
  • provide emergency aid and rebuilding measures in Gaza, but not without also demanding Israel’s responsibility for the redevelopment as the occupying power, in accordance with international law;
  • give emphatic support to the recognised Palestinian unity government which was sworn in officially in July, and to strengthen its governing power over the Gaza Strip, as well as its capacity to act in all of the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem;
  • investigate the killing of civilians before and during the attacks on the Gaza Strip, to actively contribute to an international inquiry and to support Palestine in joining the International Criminal Court (ICC). At the same time to investigate the destruction of civil infrastructure (such as the bombing of Gaza’s only power station, sewage treatment plants, hospitals etc.) which has been financed by EU and German funds for years, and to demand compensation off Israel;
  • employ the restrictive German regulations on arms exports to all warring factions in the Middle East as well, and to put military cooperation with Israel to the test;
  • do all that it can to put an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, and to suggest legally-binding strategies in accordance with international law for both sides to settle the conflict.
Anne Hemeda contributed to the research of this article.
  • FaramarzFathi

    Start boycotting German cars and products and you will see results you are looking for tomorrow.
    Faramarz Fathi

  • Pingback: Scholars and Experts Are Urging the German Government to Rethink Its Unconditional Support of Israel | Freedom, Justice, Equality News

  • Maliban Al Maliban

    google: crying wolf, hate crimes hoaxes in america. israheili intel is
    running a worldwide propaganda op with its agents running stories about
    “rising tide of anti semitism”. but it is all a lie, just propaganda
    designed to get sympathy for the “poor jews, i.e. zionist thugs” who are
    committing mass murder in gaza. just google: rising tide of anti
    semitism…………you can see the operation for yourself.

    p.s. google also: robert maxwell israels superspy…………..lear
    n how mossad controls media in the usa and europe.

    • Kamila

      really? first stop spreading hate and than google how many anti Islamic demonstrations organized in Europe and how many anti-simitics. Maybe the Holocaust was also a propaganda? Israel defending itself like any other country would, but the Muslims that stouter one another in any other country is ok for you, but when Israel defending it self its a crime?

      • Maliban Al Maliban

        what makes you think israheil is defending itself? from what i know israheil started this lastest conflict by killing palestinian kids on a regular basis and then attacking hamas with know proof that hamas had anything thing to do with the killing of the three youths.

        you buy the lies that israheil never starts anything, that they mere retaliate. it is a lie.

  • Pingback: TO RETHINK ITS UNCONDITIONAL SUPPORT |

  • legato

    At least, its positive. that there are increasing amount of groups. standing up against the senseless slaughter by Israel.

    • eli

      Sorry dear, but you’re a bit mistaken, the slaughter is what’s happening now in Iraq and Syria, Israel on the other hand didn’t have much choice, it had to stop the Hamas shootings.

      • legato

        Killing children and civilians? That’s okay with you? This is sickening. No matter. what country does this cruelty.

        • humanist

          don’t spread hate – use facts, be objective

          • legato

            Hate? Then killing women and children not wrong? Snipers shooting civilians, which don’t have any involvement in attacks by Hamas. Even, I was outraged equally, by US soldiers doing double tap in Iraq. Israel has the most psychopaths per square feet, than any country in the world.

          • Brooklyn Farmer

            You need to take it up with Hamas who use human shields and launch rockets from apartment complex, schools and mosques and store rockets in UNRWA facilities. Given that Hamas started the violence and target civilians they are the responsible party.

            http://www.npr.org/2014/08/22/342318367/hamas-finally-admits-to-kidnapping-and-killing-israeli-teens

          • legato

            Are you posting from Israel?

          • legato

            It was shown and discussed in the news. Dead children and children. Even one tv reporter expressed sorrow for the dead and suffering. The US must cut all foreign aid. I don’t want my tax dollars help to fund this.

    • PESEDE

      indeed but since I am from germany i know how the demonstrations caused violence and hate speeches against different groups of people…burning flags of Israel, attacking old people and antisemitism have nothing to do with standing up and protesting! so since this happens on demonstrations here it somehow difficult to join peaceful demonstrations which really have the aim of standing up for human rights and peace in GAZA…in addition it s so difficult to understand what the world s conflicts are about these days…so people here prefer starting debates which have nothing to do with the real conflict in fact

  • An.

    Israel left Gaza in 2005, with all the money they received from the UN they could be Dubai till now, But they prefer to build tunnels instead of schools and buy weapon instead of books, so who’s folt is it now???Gaza is free!!! But Hamas is the one that killing it’s people

    • Maliban Al Maliban

      free to starve, to be blockaded and to be abused?

  • humanist

    free gaza from hamass – they spread hate

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