Gaza war 2014 Ruthless Criticism

Translated from GegenStandpunkt 3-14

Gaza war 2014

Israel’s struggle for the one-state solution

In the summer of 2014, the time has come once again: the perpetual enmity between Hamas and Israel escalates into a war. Its scenario, including the results in terms of casualties and destruction, is essentially the same as that of the past Gaza wars. And the patterns of propaganda and counter-propaganda accompanying the war are also familiar.

The media discusses the event with the usual mixture of excitement and impassivity: They are upset about the many victims and the destruction of homes, infrastructure and other livelihoods. Above all, however, they are outraged by the renewed attack on “reconciliation” between the enemy camps that they see in this war. All commentators sort their respective partisanship according to this point of view. This is done strictly along the lines of who is responsible for the latest violent excess, which for them is completely congruent with the answer to the question of who is to blame for the fact that the “Middle East peace process” is once again not making any progress. They are all so much in favor of the Middle East peace process that even in the midst of – and even more so immediately after – the renewed climax of mutual mortal enmity between the warring parties, they are quite unmoved in asking how this fabulous “process” can and should continue. A peaceful coexistence of Israel and the Palestinians must be possible, the permanent conflict does not even have to exist: The majority of them are not backing away from this.

The fact that the warring parties are going at each other and how they do it, the demands and conditions with which they resume their diplomacy even during the war: this testifies certainly more to the fact that they stand irreconcilably against each other with and because of their respective political raisons d'êtres. And that there has been some notable progress with regards to this antagonism.

1. Hamas’s war: would-be state terror for founding a Palestine

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the West. This classification by the responsible organs of the Western community of values is at the same time everything you need to know about this association: It is deprived of all comprehensible, recognizable political reasons for its existence and its activities. This verdict of pure anti-Israeli nihilist violence is effortlessly confirmed even when Hamas is not caught for once procuring and using Katyusha and Qassam rockets. Any activity by this force to organize and maintain daily life in the Gaza Strip, as well as to maintain foreign relations, is exposed as a method of maintaining sheer power over Gaza: The fact, for example, that Hamas tries to use an organized system of smuggling via tunnels to mitigate the effects of the blockade as much as possible and to obtain the means for its leadership over the Gaza Palestinians is turned into the well-known view that Hamas is benefiting from the blockade while the population suffers. The fact that Hamas seeks to break its international isolation through shifting alliances within the Arab-Islamic world similarly exposes them as power-hungry fundamentalists capable and willing to cozy up to any of the figures we dislike as much as Hamas itself....

So the anti-terrorism experts are also certain about this summer’s Gaza war: such hopelessly inferior warlords can definitely not be concerned with the war aims they themselves have proclaimed. Such commentators find it much more logical to accuse Hamas of wanting to totally destroy Israel and of the opposite, namely that the war is really only about rallying the population so that they do not turn their growing discontent with the everyday unbearability of life in the Gaza Strip into opposition to Hamas.

Even if mainstream of Western experts, especially in view of the recent slaughter, finds nothing wrong with judging Hamas’ militancy as terrorism despite its inferiority, the political purpose of the Palestinian organization can certainly be inferred from its warlike deeds and its diplomacy – in any case, it makes no secret of it itself.[1] This reveals a political will that has little to do with the fantasy image of apolitical acts of violence and is not limited to the desire for halfway tolerable living conditions for the Gaza inhabitants.

Hamas is making every effort to be recognized as a political subject, as the rightful leader of the Palestinians’ destiny and as their representative, and thus as a ‘point of contact’ for all external concerns that can’t be ignored. Only those who studiously ignore the fact that Israel and the Western powers forcefully deny this can castigate this as an apolitical obsession with power. What they deny Hamas is precisely what they – like all veritable states – claim for themselves and have won: recognition as the legitimate monopolist on violence over the country and its people. For Hamas, this legitimate sovereignty over the Palestinians includes jurisdiction over the population of the West Bank, for which it fights so bitterly with Fatah under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas.

The complementary side of this will to have their rule over the Palestinian territories recognized by all other state powers is the struggle for their recognition as the territory of the state entity of Palestine. Hamas is fighting for a political community whose inhabitants form a people that listens to a government they recognize as their own, and therefore wants their unity as a nation recognized by all other state rulers. Hamas derives its natural right and desire for its own genuine rule from the religious-national nationhood that it attributes to the Arabs living there. It takes the practical countercheck from reality: the treatment of the Palestinians by Israel and all neighboring Arab states as not theirs proves to Hamas that they are their own people who do not fit in with Israel at all and simply not the Arab states, at least in their present constitution. Hamas defines itself not only as a fighting organization for a future Palestinian statehood, but also as an organized anticipation and nucleus of the religious-national unity of a Palestinian people and its leadership.

Thus, for Hamas, its struggle to rid itself of international ostracism as a terrorist organization is completely identical to gaining international recognition for the “right of the Palestinians to their own state” – and not in the form of practically irrelevant expressions of a willingness to engage in a “process” that is somehow and sometime supposed to lead there and otherwise leaves the Palestinians exposed to Israel’s whims. Thus, the demanded lifting of the blockade, the reconstruction of the air and maritime infrastructure to be financed by whomever, and the establishment of a designated twelve-mile zone off the coast of the Gaza Strip are not only meant to somehow enable or facilitate survival in the Gaza Strip, but amount to the creation of a material basis, guaranteed by international laws enforced by foreign powers, i.e. independent of Israeli discretion, which Israel must recognize.

Its rivalry with Fatah, which is sometimes carried out in an openly military manner, obviously does not stem from the fact that two organizations with completely different and therefore opposing goals are facing each other: The purpose of both is the autonomous statehood of the Palestinians; the struggle for this is their entire reason for existence. What sets them against each other is the respective strategy with which they pursue this purpose. Hamas sees itself as a real counter-project to Fatah’s policy, which it declares to have failed.

Several years ago, under Arafat, the PLO leadership[2] drew the practical conclusion from its total inferiority to Israel, which in this respect is a complete, well-equipped and, in principle, well-functioning state according to all the rules of bourgeois politics, that it was impossible to found a Palestinian state against Israel. In fact, Israel never simply threatened to use its highly armed military apparatus, but always used it mercilessly against any attempt to compel Palestinian autonomy. The Abbas faction is trying to replace violence as a means to establish Palestinian sovereignty, which it also considers necessary in principle but rejects as totally futile, by renouncing violence and wresting recognition from Israel as a negotiating partner, the legitimate representative of the Palestinians and thus the nucleus of the state of Palestine. At the same time, it is counting on and promoting the idea that major foreign powers will make such an impression on Israel that the overwhelmingly powerful opponent of negotiations will at least allow itself to be committed to what it at best concedes of its own accord.

Where this has brought them is well known – and not only to Hamas: Besides a Nobel Peace Prize for Arafat, Fatah has not only conquered nothing,[3] but has had to give up, de facto and in part also highly formally, ever larger parts of the original core elements of a state of Palestine or its foundation. Because it has tied its fate and that of its vision of a state of its own entirely to the “political process” with Israel, Fatah has still ‘returned to the negotiating table’ after every temporary termination of the negotiations on its part or by Israel – and thus each time acknowledged everything that Israel has created in the meantime in terms of facts and expanded in terms of claims. Fatah has withdrawn the ‘question of return’ from the negotiating table, as well as its claim to the entire territory within the 1967 borders, and so on. As the political leadership of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah also plays the role of the active guardian and thus the vicarious agent of the Israeli occupying power, which in this way relieves itself of a large part of the administrative and control burden and otherwise allows itself to be held back by nothing.

Where Fatah follows the lesson that any Palestinian autonomy, because of its absolute inferiority in violence, is ultimately only worth as much as it is recognized by Israel, Hamas insists on the exact opposite. Hamas opposes Fatah’s renunciation of violence, which was forced by Israel and at the same time repeatedly disgraced by its refusal to make any concessions, with the view that autonomy based merely on recognition is not autonomy at all. State autonomy, the sovereign disposal of Palestinians living on Palestinian land, can only be achieved through autonomous violence. From Hamas’s perspective, Fatah’s negotiations with its adversary Israel are therefore not only disgraced by their present outcome, but are tantamount to abandoning the ‘national cause’ from the outset. Hamas demonstratively insists on reversing the relationship between autonomy and negotiations with Israel in the sense of the meaning of the word autonomy: We will not let anyone, and certainly not Israel, concede to us something that is our right, because what is then conceded, at best, is precisely the expression and result of the validity of foreign law. As a legal authority sui generis, Haniya and his followers insist on their right to Israel, which arises from the nature of their people, as a precondition for the fact that, conversely, they reserve for themselves the right to grant Israel the grace of recognition as a state.[4] The right of Israel to be recognized as a state is not granted by anyone.

And that is why, for Hamas, violence is not merely the means, but itself already the exercised, enforced right to Palestinian statehood. Hamas’s militancy is not only intended to achieve Palestinian freedom, but rather to act and prove that it is a free and autonomous subject. Thus, the strategy corresponds to the purpose and, in a way, gets to the point: ‘Statehood’ is nothing other than the enforced relationship of people to ‘their’ authority, which thus excludes all other authorities from this relationship and from this territory and demands their recognition of this exclusive unity of state and people.

This general point of view from which Hamas acts so militantly is consequently not affected by the fact that practically every violent confrontation with its opponent is always certain beforehand: In practical military terms, Hamas has nothing even remotely equivalent against Israel with its army and its intelligence services. Everything Hamas has to offer shows that it is hopelessly inferior to Israel’s military machine and has been reduced to a pure fight for defense and survival. From the point of view of the Palestinians, who are fighting for their national freedom by living it in battle, the unwavering continuing struggle with all its victims proves the rightness and justice of their actions.

With its short-range missiles, Hamas is not capable of inflicting any real military damage, but it does have the daring to disrupt everyday civilian life in Israel. And indeed, Israel cannot withstand this bombardment without reacting. It traditionally does so with a military operation that causes many deaths, injuries and enormous destruction in the Gaza Strip, from which Hamas proudly draws the proof: Hamas is capable of forcing Israel into such a military operation. The Palestinian force is not capable of an open confrontation with the Israeli military; however, by capturing Israeli military personnel through small commandos, it does in turn get Israel’s admission that it can neither destroy Hamas nor ignore it: Either the prisoners are used as living bargaining chips for freeing Hamas activists and other Palestinians held captive by Israel, or Israel finds itself forced into large-scale search and rescue operations, which again prove only one thing: Israel cannot help but pay practical respect to Hamas as a military, and thus its not equally powerful, but equally formidable adversary. From the sheer scale of what Israel sets in motion militarily against it, Hamas gauges how far it has come in being militarily relevant.

Hamas sees the political content of this status, which cannot be denied by Israel, as an opponent of not the same caliber, but of essentially the same type, proven not least in the negotiations for which Israel found itself willing and thus apparently felt compelled: In the The Israelis are doing themselves the harm of indirect negotiations in a Cairo hotel between real states, which are perhaps not so common, but ultimately diplomatically complete with all the hassle, and the Israelis are doing themselves the harm and the honor of diplomatic recognition to Hamas, which they otherwise always so loudly refuse.

Hamas sees the political content of this status, which cannot be denied by Israel, as an opponent of not the same caliber, but of basically the same construction, as proven not least in the negotiations, for which Israel has found itself willing, i.e. apparently forced: in the form of indirect negotiations in a Cairo hotel, which may not be so common between real states, but is ultimately diplomatically declared with all the hiccups, the Israelis are doing themselves the harm and Hamas the honor of diplomatic recognition, which they always refuse so loudly.

Hamas sees the political content of this status, which can’t be denied by Israel, as an adversary of not the same caliber, but still in principle same type, proven not least by the negotiations to which Israel finds itself willing, i.e. apparently compelled: In the form of indirect negotiations in a Cairo hotel, which may not be so common between real states, but ultimately with all the diplomatic squabbling, the Israelis give themselves the grief and Hamas the honor of a diplomatic recognition which they otherwise always so vociferously refuse. The Palestinians have managed to ensure that their political representatives – at least if they have made it to Cairo for the negotiations – are not targets of Israeli death squads, but negotiating partners whose demands the other side must at least first officially accept from the Egyptian shuttle diplomats before they are disposed of unread in the wastepaper basket. And in the dispute over who is really torpedoing the negotiations through which military action or reaction, Hamas sees itself only vindicated: With and through its militancy, it has gained the status of a negotiating party in its own right, because it is equipped with its own means of violence. Israel, which otherwise always claims that it will not negotiate with terrorists, accuses it outright of torpedoing the negotiations, which Israel apparently wants after all because it needs them.

The fact that the number of dead on their side is regularly greater by a double-digit factor than the number of victims they are able to produce on the Israeli side is therefore on the one hand not a deliberate, perfidious strategy on the part of Hamas to impress world public opinion, as it is repeatedly accused of by those who prove with this talk solely how little they let themselves to be impressed; what is expressed here is simply the asymmetrical balance of power between a highly armed state, equipped with all offensive and defensive systems, and a bunch of free fighters. But on the other hand, for Hamas these victims are not merely regrettable, acceptable damages to be avoided as far as possible, without which its struggle is not possible. Precisely because this struggle, in view of their comparative lack of means, is reduced to demonstrating the will that is already evident in their name[5], the victims are more than just victims – they are martyrs, because they testify to this will in two respects: They prove its bodily existence in each and every Palestinian – the legal claim to their own Arab-Palestinian rule is the nature of this human race, fulfilled in death during the struggle – and its efficacy: apparently Israel cannot assert itself in any other way than through such massacres of the Palestinian population. So when the exiled Hamas leader declares, in the face of the many dead, injured and homeless squatting amid the rubble, that “our steadfastness is itself a victory” (according to the exiled head of Hamas’ politburo Meshaal in an interview on Aug. 4, 2014), then he is merely summing up the cynicism of his state-building program: His claim to an autonomous state is so much the natural right of those whom he claims as his popular base that it cannot be killed, but will continue to exist ineradicably as long as any Palestinian is alive. It is fitting with this when Hamas and other local and foreign supporters of Palestinian freedom proclaim thousands of times by graffiti on concrete, by song on Youtube or elsewhere: “In the blockade we are free!,” which appropriately rhymes in Arabic; and celebrate the beauty of sacrifice by publicly distributing sweets accompanied by cheerful loudspeaker music on streets and squares in the Palestinian territories when an Arab suicide bomber in Israel takes a few Israelis with him to their deaths.

2. Israel – State terror for a completed Jewish homeland without Palestinians

Where Hamas tries, mostly in vain, to wring from the world of states or the rather vaguely defined subject called “world public opinion” at least propagandistic recognition of the political and thus honorable nature of its struggle, Israel pursues with its propaganda an exactly opposite concern: There can be no question of any political intentions in its warfare, because its violence is pure “self-defense” against violent and unpredictable terrorist criminals. The Israeli government, as well as other Israeli and foreign supporters of its policy, like to cite the responsibility of every Israeli politician to protect the lives and safe sleep of all Israel’s inhabitants. The fact that the number of Israelis killed in the July clashes with Hamas – more than 60 – exceeds anything there has ever been in total Israeli deaths from rocket and shell fire from Gaza, and that this does not make anyone wonder, proves that there is no doubt in anyone's mind, and certainly not in the minds of the Israelis themselves who are to be protected, about what the real object of this responsibility to protect is: The state of Israel sees itself attacked when violence is done to its citizens; it defends itself: the inviolability of its sovereign control over the land and the people who are its when it then proceeds to the enforce its right of self-defense, which is therefore not oriented or relativized by any real balance of protection and damage. What – since time immemorial or even new in the meantime – is claimed when Israeli politicians assert this right to defend the state existence of the Jewish community, they clarify with their war actions, political maneuvers and proclamations.

With its “Iron Dome” missile shield – the world’s most advanced defense system against short-range rockets – Israel is trying to eliminate as far as possible what Hamas is capable of with its rockets. Regardless of how far this technologically sophisticated effort at making itself invulnerable to Palestinian rockets actually goes, it is clear that Israel cannot merely protect itself against the threat posed by Hamas. What is needed is the military elimination of every source of danger.

To this end, Netanyahu orders Operation “Protective Edge.” The initial objective of this war operation is the destruction of the tunnels from which Palestinian rebels enter Israeli territory, through which they smuggle people and materials into and out of the Gaza Strip, where they store their rockets and other weapons, hide, and so on. The IDF achieved this goal after a good three weeks,[6] so Israel unilaterally declared the end of the operation and began ceasefire negotiations.

“While Hamas presents the Egyptians with a long list of demands, Israel, according to government sources, is focusing on two main points: preventing Hamas from rearming quickly and demilitarizing the Gaza Strip in the long term.
After neutralizing the threat of Hamas’ tunnels and significantly reducing its missile capacity, Israel will insist on ensuring that it cannot rearm itself as it did after previous military operations.”
(Jerusalem Post, August 5, 2014)

However, the negotiations are broken off after a short time, rocket fire by Hamas and air strikes by Israel alternate again, and “Protective Edge” is not officially declared over either. In August, Israeli Defense Minister Yaalon announces a new war objective:

“Operation Protective Edge will not end until there is complete calm in the south [of Israel] and no more rockets and mortar shells are fired at Israel. Until then, Hamas, along with its infrastructure, will remain the target of our strikes, which we are currently conducting from the air. We do not plan to stop there; after all, we have a range of options to hit Hamas in other ways as well.” (Jerusalem Post, August 24, 2014)

Israeli leaders explicitly point out that this time they are not planning a time-limited military operation during which they will try to accomplish as much as possible of their declared and undeclared war plans, but that they intend to continue the war until what they want is accomplished:

“If Hamas leaders think they can wear us out, or if they think we are working on a schedule, they are mistaken. We are not in a hurry, we have patience.” (Yaalon, ibid.)

In contrast to all the commentators who, looking at the conflict, can only see “stagnation” or the “vicious circle of violence and counter-violence,” this time the Israeli leadership is concerned with decisive progress. The hostility to Hamas that has been practiced for years, its treatment as a terrorist gang with which there can be no political compromise, is no longer enough for Netanyahu. When he speaks of the existential threat that Hamas poses to Israel, he declares the final elimination of Hamas to be the only appropriate consequence. From this demanding standpoint, the Israeli leadership criticizes itself for having allowed Hamas to survive at all. In retrospect, it defines its years of hostile policy against the Islamists as gentle treatment of these enemies, which it now declares untenable. Because Hamas has somehow managed to survive this military engagement in the first place and has equipped itself anew with resources against Israel after each attack, the Israeli leadership now accuses itself of having virtually come to terms with these terrorists. While this has nothing to do with the hard-nosed policy of blockade, air strikes, ground interventions and targeted executions that it has actually pursued, it announces it all the more clearly: It will no longer treat terrorists so that they somehow survive. From now on, Hamas terrorism will not only be fought and kept down, but fought down and eradicated.

Israel intends to carry out the verdict “terrorists!” as thoroughly as possible. However, the ever more escalated violence that it considers necessary for this purpose shows more and more clearly that Hamas is not simply a gang of terrorists after all.

Officially, the Israeli leadership is issuing the line that every patch of ground and every building in the Gaza Strip from which a rocket is launched against Israel will be considered a military target and treated accordingly. In doing so, Israel is effectively executing its inexorable judgment that in Gaza, as the material basis for Hamas’s military campaign, any distinction between military and civilian targets is invalid. Police-wise, the Israeli army, in cooperation with the relevant intelligence services, hunts down, arrests, executes leading personnel of Hamas and other “militant groups” – and at the same time Israeli military and political leaders are convinced that without an invasion with ground troops, the fighting personnel of these groups cannot be finally defeated. The civilian population is of course affected by this, its life is made hell or destroyed altogether. Thus, Israel wants to accomplish by force precisely what it so persistently denies by defining Hamas as a mere terrorist organization, and what Hamas persistently claims and defends in defiance of all Israeli violence and finds recognized precisely in Israeli violence: The entire population of the Gaza Strip is the human court of appeal and basis for its state-building endeavor, which meanwhile exhausts itself in proving that not even Israel can annihilate them completely. Israel turns this against the Palestinians living under the leadership of Hamas, effectively punishing them for figuring, willingly or not, as the basis for a claim it has declared to be pure terrorism.[7] The negotiations with Hamas, to which Israel feels compelled in the meantime, are conducted in the same spirit, i.e. in such a way that the moment of political recognition, which such negotiations always objectively contain, is denied as thoroughly as possible. Israel makes this clear, first, by its point of departure: The Netanyahu government insists that it has not agreed on a cease-fire with Hamas, but that it has unilaterally stopped the fighting. Secondly, the content: This is just as unacceptable to Israel as it is to Hamas. Third, the form: Israel does not engage in direct negotiations at all, but talks only with Egyptian mediators. Fourth, the choice of these mediators: For Israel, it is clear that only states that share its definition of Hamas as a terrorist organization can be considered as mediators, such as Egypt. And fifth, Israel proves its unwillingness to grant Hamas even the slightest bit of honor as an adversary to be taken seriously politically by also opening a new wave of executions of Hamas leadership figures in parallel with the negotiations in Cairo.[8]

What Israel in all these forms actually wants to fight and finally destroy is something other than merely the religiously incited anti-Jewish nihilism of a political-criminal organization, but a veritable, militant will to found a state, commanding a few means and anchored in the population.

Thus, this year’s war continues what all previous Gaza operations by Israel and the permanent blockade in between have accomplished: The dispatch of any claim to Palestinian political autonomy with the prospect of statehood extending to the Gaza Strip in addition to the West Bank. This piece of Palestinian territory does not even occur to Israel in any diplomatic form, however mendacious, as an object of the “peace process,” i.e., as an area for a conceivable state of Palestine. Israel fully subsumes the coastal strip to its definition of Hamas, which operates there, as a terrorist group and treats it accordingly – and after its withdrawal from the area in 2005, in all freedom – as a stateless terrorist swamp.[9] In line with this, Israeli Foreign Minister A. Lieberman suggested in the course of “Protective Edge” that after the safe destruction of the tunnels, the disarmament of Hamas and the complete demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, it could be placed under UN supervision – Israel would thus have finally rid itself of any moment of tolerating the will for political autonomy of the Gaza Strip and would have saddled the UN with dealing with the existential plight of almost two million Gaza residents, whom it itself either perceives as a terrorist brood or not at all.[10] Israel’s “Protective Edge” is the most important step in this direction.

Israel targets the Palestinian will for statehood as such when it destroys all means and potential means of militant resistance on the part of Hamas. That is why there is no concession on Israel’s part in the program even if the Palestinians renounce violence in whole or in part. Israel makes this clear not only in its Egyptian-brokered cease-fire diplomacy, but demonstrates it in parallel in its dealings with the Palestinian faction in the West Bank under the leadership of M. Abbas.

Israel has always responded very clearly to the latter’s determination to come to a political arrangement with Israel and to use this arrangement to simulate a civilian state: Israel only finds the rejection of militancy practiced in it, the civilian one, acceptable to the extent that it proves to be a force for order in the West Bank. As soon as Israel discovers a will to a state being practiced in the administrative and supervisory activities of the Abbas troops, they are undermined, fought, punished. In the twenty years of the “peace process” Israel has never officially terminated it – not even the prospect of a “two-state solution” – but in practice it has ensured that little remains of the factual and political preconditions for a future Palestinian state in the West Bank as well.

Israel has not yet declared the West Bank to be a recruitment and operational area for anti-Israeli terrorists without further ado. But for the Netanyahu government, this only means that it must ensure all the more consistently that it does not become one in the first place.[11] The eastern West Bank, the border with Jordan, must therefore remain permanently under complete Israeli control and is just as out of the question for a conceivable sovereign Palestinian state as the western edge of the West Bank, the border with Israel. Since Jerusalem, with its Temple and Wailing Wall, is the indivisible and eternal capital of the Jewish state according to national consensus, its territory, including the surrounding settlement blocks, is also taboo for an autonomous Palestinian statehood. The constant expansion of Israeli settlements – partly illegal, partly within the framework of state programs, partly openly announced as punitive measures because of unpopular political initiatives by the Abbas authorities – has to be acknowledged by the Fatah leadership each time as a fait accompli and accepted as ‘point zero’ for ongoing or new negotiations. The same applies to all the demolitions of Palestinian homes, the exploitation of the total financial and technical inferiority of the Palestinians in the dispute over groundwater, the continuous arrests or targeted killings of Palestinians, and so on and so forth. The fact that Israel does not offer any perspective to Fatah’s political line, which relies on the diplomatic “peace process,” occasionally leads its supporters to engage in political maneuvers for which Israel punishes them all the more: When Hamas and Fatah try to increase their political weight by forming a unity government, it is not Hamas that gets rid of its status as a force that came to power illegally and is therefore to be ostracized internationally by cooperating with the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority under Abbas. Conversely, their terrorist stigma is transferred to the PA – at least from Israel’s point of view, which demands from Abbas a definitive rejection of any form of cooperation with Hamas.[12] And for those cases in which Abbas defends himself against Israel’s continued obstruction of genuine progress toward something like a semi-autonomous Palestinian polity by appealing to the ‘community of states’ in the most honorable forms of the UN, international courts, etc., the charming linguistic creation of “diplomatic terrorism” has become established in Israeli politics, which Israel must not only not be impressed by, but which entitles it to take any countermeasure it deems necessary.

So, despite all the diplomatic commitments to the “peace process” that are still not out of circulation, Israeli policy in practice is meanwhile nevertheless approaching the threshold of openly admitting what its real principle and overarching reason is. If Israel consistently allows the “negotiation process” to go nowhere, regularly openly humiliates its supporters on the Palestinian side and at the same time uses all forms of violence, which it defines as terror, as an opportunity to destroy every objective condition for and every will to establish a Palestinian state, then the Jewish state makes one thing clear: it does not want to live with any Arab state of Palestine, whatever its form and however it comes about. Israel demonstrates that there is no room for a “two-state solution” between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. In the twisted form of merely meeting security needs arising from the confrontation with the incorrigibly militant Palestinians, it has worked step by step in recent years to make the Zionist project of settling all the land promised by the highest divine authority into the Israeli state practice. The ‘danger’ it really wants to avert is the mere prospect that Israel might have to commit itself to something similar to its pre-Six Day War borders after all.

This state is to own the entire territory up to the Jordan River, including the Golan Heights. And more and more openly – not least through its offensive failure to differentiate between Palestinian activists and civilians – Israel is also taking the position that in principle it is also not compatible with the presence of the Palestinian Arabs who to this day still reside on this territory. The self-definition not only as a state of the Jews, but as a Jewish state, in principle defines the Arabs as outsiders. Here, the modern constitutional state of Israel makes no democratic concessions: In essence, it wants to be the state of the kind of people who are members of the Jewish people either by descent according to halacha or recognized by conversion under civic and rabbinical laws. From this point of view, whatever other people are in the territory that Israel claims as its own are in whatever form a latent ethnic threat to the country because of their deviant ethnic nature. This viewpoint: that it endangers the “Jewish character of the state of Israel” if too many Arabs live within its borders, is therefore, quite unironically, the weightiest argument that proponents of a two-state solution use to promote a Palestinian state to their opponents.[13] That Israel actually cannot tolerate Arabs within its borders is, on the one hand, immediately confirmed by the opponents of the two-state solution. On the other hand, this does not at all mean that life with a Palestinian state is then a possibility or even “the only real alternative” – on the contrary. From the perspective of the Jewish claim to the entire Promised Land, a completely different consequence arises for the authoritative Israeli politicians: First, the Israeli Arabs have always been and are increasingly being treated in a way that, according to the principles of a constitutional state committed to equality, actually falls under the condemnation of ethnic discrimination.[14] And secondly, in addition to demands for the ‘transfer’ of Arab Israelis to the Palestinian territories, the positions of those who would like to extend such a prospective ‘transfer’ by a few kilometers are now more than ‘socially acceptable.’ They point out that there is already an Arab homeland in the neighborhood, especially in Jordan and Egypt, for the “Palestinians” who, for the sake of linguistic clarity, like to be put in quotation marks; this point of view, with the explicit and definitive refusal to allow any Palestinian refugees residing in the neighboring states to return to Israel or the occupied territories, has long been practical policy.

Complementary to this exclusive ethnic definition of Israel and the claim to the whole land up to the Jordan, Israel is generously inclusive when it comes to who the Jewish people are for whom it wants to establish, expand and secure their homeland: by definition, all members of every Jewish community located anywhere on God’s wide world belong to it. All Jews, from Israel’s point of view, are automatically Israeli citizens-in-waiting; they are entitled to Israeli citizenship, and even before that, are nothing but two-legged titles of appeal for the unconditional right of the State of Israel to use any violence it deems appropriate for taking possession of the whole land for the Jewish homeland.

With regard to this program, the war also provides domestic progress in the necessary national cohesion. The weeks of war with the rocket alerts, the partial mobilization of reservists, the soldiers killed and buried with much organized public sympathy make it clear to their own population that their normal lives are directly and inextricably linked to the violent assertion of their state against Hamas. The cleansing effect of the war on the popular soul can be studied in all its facets in Israel, where by now any criticism, no matter how nuanced, of certain exaggerated parts of the IDF’s actions is considered leftist extremism and, in principle, treason to the fatherland, and there is the new public spectacle in border residents or tourists watch with glee as the Israeli air force incinerates Palestinian houses. Here, too, Israel’s democratic constitution, which is unique in the Middle East, proves its worth: There is no forced allegiance from above and no deviation from it is persecuted, as the Islamists in the Gaza Strip are always accused of by their democratic critics. Rather, the people have the opportunity to freely form their own opinion about their right to any violence, and dissenters do not have to be silenced by coercive force. Much more effective is the public ostracism of critics by Israeli civil society itself.[15] With breathtaking speed, despite all the violence of the Israeli military for which he is responsible, Netanyahu has transformed from a ‘hawk’ into a representative of the ‘dove’ faction, who essentially only has to defend himself against criticism of the war from the spirit of its total expansion.

With each new day of war, the focus on the Israeli Arabs who for good reason are not believed to be as unconditionally supportive of any excess of violence against their Arab compatriots as Israel deserves, also of course sharpens. Accordingly, there is an increase in harassment, assaults and transitions to open private violence which, in turn,makes the boycott of any Arab businesses protesting the Gaza war, called for by government member Lieberman, seem downright civil and level-headed. In the meantime, the number of Arab Israelis who would not object to a land swap is growing because they would rather live in an impoverished Palestinian entity than in a state of Israel that constantly demonstrates to them that they have the wrong ethnic nature – in this respect, too, this war is a nice step forward in clarifying the fronts and confirming in practice that what does not fit together should not live together.

3. Moral proxy wars in partly friendly foreign countries

Israel also demands that the Jews who live scattered around the world remain unconditionally loyal to their true homeland, especially in times of war. It refers to the Holocaust and insists on the equation between the existence of Jewish life and the claim to a self-defending state of Israel; and it declares that this claim to a strong state of its own is identical with the legitimacy of every violent action actually undertaken, precisely as the realization of this right of every single Jew everywhere in the world. For this double equation, however, Israel not only makes demands on all Jews, no matter where they live, i.e. no matter which states they are at the same time citizens, because Israel has always welcomed them as its citizens. It is precisely for this reason that Israel also demands that these states take sides with Israel, above all the Western allies on both sides of the Atlantic. They owe it to their Jewish communities to support, ideally and practically, the state that defines all its acts of violence as the fulfillment of the Jewish people’s right to survival, including all its members scattered around the world, and demands recognition for this. For the identity of Israel’s continued state-founding power with all the values upheld by their Western states of origin, the self-confident settler state puts forward two arguments of different thrust: On the one hand, it styles itself as the last outpost of the Western, modern, liberal Occident against Oriental barbarism, as one of its own, surrounded by enemies who are also its own.[16] And on the other hand, Israel repeatedly supplements this moral closing of ranks vis-à-vis its Western allies, especially in Europe, with memories of their inglorious anti-Semitic past. Thus it declares itself not only the representative guardian of common values against Islamic-Arab evil, but actually the only state that really embodies these values, that is, by virtue of its founding, nothing but the consequence of the crimes of Europeans in this regard before 1945; that therefore has the right – and the duty vis-à-vis the Jewish people – to examine all others to see how they hold up to Western values, which are all subsumed in anti-anti-Semitism. The intransigence with which Israel insists on entire West’s unconditional solidarity with its policies and its wars brings it, on the same level, a review of its extraordinary violent actions and its daily policies by those addressed in this way, which its representatives and unconditional solidarity supporters then complain about: In fact, quite a few European moral doves are moved to examine the general moral quality of the state that demands their solidarity and even thinks it can make itself a judge of the political and moral quality of long-established Western democracies. This outrages Israel’s representatives and friends, because they find Israel subjected to special attention and particularly strict moral scrutiny, which they brand as a “double standard.”[17]

The Palestinians also demand solidarity for their “cause” or at least help surviving. They are unlikely to get it from the Arab states. For them, Palestine is a thing of the past; they, for their part, are busy with civil wars, fighting them off, or fighting regional competitions. This does not prevent Hamas from unapologetically presenting itself as the champion of an Arab or Islamic cause against the common enemy Israel,[18] but it can only point to the declarations of solidarity by foreign communities of Arab origin or Islamic faith, which in some European states are millions strong. They interpret themselves as the brothers of the Palestinians in misery: in their widespread miserable social situation and the not always non-violent xenophobia and Islamophobia to which they are exposed by fellow citizens, authorities and police, they discover the parallel bad treatment of Arabs or Muslims by Western societies, demand the fulfillment of the Palestinians' right to their own state and, for their part, accuse the politicians and the media of the states in which they live of double standards. And because they do not care about or hate the European morality of dealing with the past, they sometimes resort to verbal or physical attacks against the Jews who come within their reach.


And the German public? They do what they always do. As well as don’t do: When Israel once again fights belligerently for its right to the entire Holy Land with the power it has at its disposal with one of the most modern and powerful armies in the world and a fairly united people rallied behind the government’s march to war; when in the process it wants to make less and less of a distinction between activists for the establishment of a Palestinian state and Palestinian civilians, or even to know there is one; when the Palestinian side repeatedly takes the due sacrifices only as proof of the profound legitimacy of its holy cause Palestine, i.e. as a mandate to continue collective self-sacrifice as steadfastly as possible by whatever means; if both sides incidentally stir up a few minorities in Europe in a religious-nationalistic way, their members may distinguish just as little between themselves as persons, their own people and their right to a great deal of their own violence – what could then be more obvious than asking oneself for the thousandth time whether one is allowed to criticize Israel as a German.

[1] The following is the wording of the “maximum demands” with which Hamas entered the ceasefire talks in Cairo:

“An immediate halt to the aggression against the residents of the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air; a halt to the strategy of incursion and storming, killings, destruction of homes and aerial maneuvers over the Gaza Strip.

Complete lifting of the land and sea blockade, including opening border crossings and reopening the port of Gaza; supplying goods, electricity, fuel, construction materials and all other goods to meet the needs of our people; lifting of the economic and financial blockade; ensuring freedom of fishing and navigation in the twelve-mile zone; maintaining freedom of movement in the border areas of the Gaza Strip; no establishment of buffer zones.

Cancellation of all measures of collective punishment of West Bank residents taken after June 12, 2014 (kidnapping of three Israeli settlers, prior to the discovery of their bodies), including the release of all prisoners since then, especially those originally released as part of the Schalit deal, as well as the Speaker of Parliament and other members of parliament; opening of all institutions, restitution of all confiscated public and private property.

Stop the policy of repeated administrative detention; lift all extra sanctions against Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons (Administrative detention refers to imprisonment without charge, trial or sentence. In the actions following the kidnapping and murder of the three settler boys alone, 400 West Bank Palestinians have been detained in this manner. Depending on the count, the regular Israeli prison system alone permanently holds several hundred such Palestinian prisoners; how many Palestinians are incarcerated by/in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which is also allowed to carry out such detentions, is unknown. Editor’s note).

Facilitate the implementation of the reconstruction program for the Gaza Strip, which has been devastated by repeated aggression.

Fixing a timetable for the realization of the demands listed here.” (al-Quds al-Arabi, 8.2.14)

[2] The PLO was and is formally a collective organization of various Palestinian factions, the strongest of which by far has always been Fatah.

[3] ‘Victory’ or ‘conquest’ is the meaning of the apronym Fatah.

[4] ‘Mr. Haniya, is it conceivable that you will recognize Israel?’ – ‘Israel should first recognize us.’ – ‘But Israel has no constitution that calls for the destruction of the Palestinian state. Hamas’ charter, meanwhile, clearly postulates the destruction of the Jewish state. Will you back away from this?’ – ‘We will announce our position only when Israel recognizes our right to exist. Moreover, we would like to know which Israel we should recognize: the one of 1948, 1967 or 2005? Israel must recognize Palestine so we know what we are talking about.’ – [Will Hamas renounce violence in the future?’ – ‘We are not the aggressors here who want to shed blood. We seek stability in the region. But Israel must first recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and stop the targeted killings as well as the aggressions against us.’ (Handelsblatt, 3.2.06)

In late 2010, Haniya said Hamas would agree to a peace deal with Israel if a referendum called for it, which would have to include all Palestinians in the occupied territories as well as refugees abroad.

[5] Hamas is the abbreviation for “Islamic Resistance Movement” and as a word means “enthusiasm, zeal.”

[6] “In a statement released Tuesday, Netanyahu praised the Israeli army and domestic intelligence for destroying the terrorists’ tunnels, but reiterated that there was no guarantee of 100 percent success. ‘This was a difficult operation, carried out by heroic soldiers under difficult combat conditions,’ the prime minister said. He added: ‘The destruction of the tunnels has damaged a strategic weapon of Hamas, for which it has made enormous efforts during the past years.’” (Jerusalem Post, 8.5.14)

[7] Israel lives up to its reputation and self-image as the only democracy in the Middle East by providing a pluralistic range for commenting politically on this practical union of Palestinian people and leadership through indiscriminate bombardment of both: While some lighten and equalize the morally clouded view of the 2,000 dead, mostly civilian Palestinians, by pointing out that this number has remained so low only through extreme restraint by the world’s most humane army, other politicians point out that Israel, at least, has never prevented Gaza residents from revolting against Hamas. Member of Parliament Shaked of the Jewish Home party, which has several ministers in the government, makes this clear to herself and her supporters in a rather Old Testament manner:

“They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be upon them. And that includes the mothers of the martyrs who saw them off to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons – nothing would be more just than that. They should disappear just like their houses where they raised the snakes. Otherwise, only more little snakes would be raised there.” (Statement posted by MK Ayelet Shaked from a supporter on her Facebook page; quoted from:

[8] As far as its own personnel are concerned, Israel follows a double line that is also revealing: On the one hand, the imperative “We leave no one behind!” applies. Even to corpses, but even more so to living soldiers in the hands of its opponents, Israel fights bitterly, does everything to regain the protective power over all its uniformed children, even post mortem, thus proving to itself and to the Hamas people that behind every single Israeli stands all of mighty Israel. In return, it also releases, if necessary, a large number of Palestinians whom it has itself imprisoned, which is not difficult, on the one hand, because before or after such actions larger waves of arrests regularly bring the number of Palestinian prisoners in Israel back to normal. On the other hand, this is considered intolerable in Israel, since it violates the principle of not negotiating with terrorists. So the second directive to the military in this regard – the so-called Hannibal Protocol – is to do everything in its power to prevent Hamas from taking members of the IDF into its custody in the first place, although it is disputed within the Israeli officer corps whether the death of anyone who might otherwise fall into the hands of the enemy alive should be accepted for this purpose. The Arab media are also gleefully reporting that the last near “kidnap victim,” Hadar Goldin, was presumably killed by ‘friendly fire’ during the firefight with the Palestinian squad that captured him.

[9] From a letter from the U.S. Embassy in Israel published by Wikileaks:

“Israeli officials have repeatedly confirmed to U.S. Embassy staff that Israel intends to keep the Gaza economy running only at the lowest possible level sufficient to avoid a humanitarian crisis. (...) They want to keep the Gaza economy on the verge of collapse without giving it the final push.”

[10] But this means that Lieberman, a hardliner, no longer represents the most radical position in Israel’s official political spectrum. Moshe Feiglin, a member of parliament for Netanyahu’s ruling Likud and one of the deputy speakers of parliament, is calling for the complete reoccupation of Gaza and for the deportation – pardon, a “generous international emigration package” – for the bulk of the current population – but only for those “not involved in anti-Israel activity” – however Mr. Feiglin may define such a package and distinguish it from the normal presence in Gaza.

[11] Netanyahu on the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge: “Right now the priority is to ‘take care of Hamas,’ Netanyahu stressed. But the broader lesson, he said, is that Israel must ensure that we do not get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria.”' In this conflict, he continued, ‘the Israeli people have understood what I always say: there cannot be a situation – by whatever agreement – in which we cede security control of the territory west of the Jordan River.’” (Times of Israel, 7.13.14)

[12] “Does he want reconciliation with Hamas or peace with Israel? He can only achieve one of the two” (Netanyahu in April 2014 in view of the talks between Hamas and Fatah on the formation of a unity government).

[13] “‘A two-state solution proves to be the only real alternative. A unitary state would either turn into an apartheid state with second-class citizens – or Israel would no longer be able to sustain itself as a Jewish state.’ (...) State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, ‘Secretary of State Kerry, just like Israeli Justice Minister Livni and previously Israeli Prime Ministers Olmert and Barak, has merely repeated that there is no such thing as a one-state solution if you believe – as he does – in the principle of a Jewish state.’” (, 4.28.14)

[14] In the Israeli heartland, about 20% ethnic Arabs of Christian or Islamic religion live, partly in urban settlement centers, partly as Bedouins, especially in the Negev. Many Arab communities are not officially recognized as municipalities, thus depriving them of urgently needed state support for infrastructure, etc. In northern Israel, it is the declared policy of the responsible departments to counteract larger closed Arab settlement blocs through appropriate building and settlement. For some years now, the law has made it virtually impossible for Arab family members from the occupied territories to join their families. Because Israeli Arabs are not subject to compulsory military service for obvious reasons, they are excluded from all sorts of ‘benefits’ associated with completed military service, which cover so many areas that they make military service in some ways a constituent moment of a normal civic existence in Israel. And quite without checking with the Arab Israelis, Foreign Minister Lieberman knows that the prospect of their practical removal from Israel is actually an offer to them to finally be allowed to shake off the allegiance to the alien Jewish-Israeli polity that contradicts their nature: “Lieberman said there is no reason why Israeli Arabs living there (in the areas he proposes for a land swap) ‘should not join their brethren under full Palestinian sovereignty and become citizens of a future Palestinian state they so urgently desire.” (Jerusalem Post, 5.1.14)

[15] The well-known Israeli columnist Gideon Levy – an avowed Zionist – who asked Israeli pilots in an editorial whether they slept well after the killing of Palestinian children at the push of a button and called Israel the most dangerous place in the world for Jews, now only dares to go out on the streets with bodyguards. The head of the university personally apologized for the faux pas of a professor who dared to deplore all Israeli and Palestinian victims by posting on a social network, after extensive protests from the student body. Etc.

[16] E.g. Netanyahu: “Many states in the region and in the West are beginning to understand that it is one and the same front, that Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas. Both movements are ultimately trying to establish Islamic rule, caliphates: without human rights, in large areas, by slaughtering minorities, by disregarding the human rights of everyone: of women and men, of children, of Christians, of everyone.” (Jerusalem Post, 8.24.14)

[17] A pro-Israel author writes in Der Spiegel of the “Germans’ favorite war,” just as other representatives of his line find it ‘very revealing’ how the German and European public is more interested in 1,000 Arabs killed by Israelis than in 100,000 dead Arabs perishing in a “fratricidal war.”

[18] Meshaal, for example, answered bravely – and not very credibly in view of the fact that the Egyptian military is sticking hard and fast to its blockade – to the question whether, in view of the current war misery in the Gaza Strip, at least Egypt would now lift its Gaza blockade as a sign of a remnant of Arab solidarity: The last word has not yet been spoken here.