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Gaza: the mean, mean neighbour
What would you do – the Israeli historian Prof. Fania Oz-Salzberger wrote in the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) – if your neighbor constantly threw stones and Molotov cocktails at your apartment? Wouldn`t you at some time pick up a gun and put an end to the doings? And if this neighbor surrounded himself with his children, so you couldn‘t hit him, wouldn`t you then even take a gun with a telescopic sight? Indeed, did not Hamas behave in Gaza just like this neighbor when it shot at Israeli cities with their explosive rockets? Therefore, Prof. Oz-Salzberger wrote, Israel‘s current war against Gaza was a just war.

With this beautiful example of the reader and his neighbor one can indeed get across a lot of things vividly. For simplicity let us call you and the family that is terrorized by the mean neighbor the landlord and let us now look at the curious circumstances in the apartment house. The neighbor`s apartment is Gaza.

1) Three years ago you took away the key from your neighbor.
Without your approval as the landlord, the neighbor family is not allowed to leave the apartment, neither for work nor for study nor for traveling nor for shopping.

Without your approval your neighbor receives no mail, nothing to eat, no electricity, no gas and no visitors: the apartment is locked, you as the landlord have the key and the mean, mean neighbor is locked in. And all this since 2006, almost three years long.

Thereupon the mean, mean neighbor became furious. The mistake of the mean, mean neighbor and his friends in the other apartment house: these people voted for the wrong party.

And this, although you were so nice to the neighbor four years ago in 2005 when you voluntarily moved off his balcony with sea view that you had taken away from him earlier. Naturally you did not deign to give this fellow a word or a look when you moved out. And you demolished the balcony furniture. What would become of us if we talked with our neighbors? And now you tell the whole world that you have vacated the balcony. But that you still have the key to the apartment, that you don’t mention.

2) Two years ago you sent your neighbor a gang of thugs. In 2007, you and your North American friends from the homeowners` association had quartered a bunch of thugs in the neighbor‘s apartment, the Mohamed Dahlan gang. It was supposed to take away the apartment from the mean, mean neighbor. Nasty as he is, the neighbor defended himself successfully. And you were pretty damn mad. Afterwards you tried to make everybody believe that without any reason the mean, mean neighbor had violently taken over the authority in his apartment although he was not entitled to this. You yourself were surprised at how many journalists spread this lie. Thereupon the mean, mean neighbor became furious.

3)You have not billed the running costs correctly. For years you as landlord have collected duties and taxes due the neighbor, but have not paid them to the neighbor completely and on time.
Thereupon the mean, mean neighbor became furious.

4)You have already killed many people from the neighbor‘s apartment.
That was in 2006. There were hundreds of dead in the neighbor’s apartment. Fortunately the wind did not come from the south, otherwise the stench would have reached your apartment.
Thereupon the mean, mean neighbor became furious.

5) You took his work and his car away from the neighbor.
Once the neighbor went fishing. You prohibited him from doing that. He once had factories. Those you bombed out in 2006. He had agriculture. You ruined that by forbidding exports. He once had an airport – built with funds from the European Union. You destroyed that. Mean neighbors don’t need any airport. The mean neighbor who only wants to shoot should not fish, should not work, should not till the fields, should not travel. The mean, mean neighbor should shoot at you so you can shoot back.
And that is what he did.

6) Courts confirmed the neighbor’s case. Ignorant non-locals, alleged experts for neighborhood law, like Amnesty International, UN experts, Nobel peace prize winners say all the time your action as landlord towards your neighbor violates law and justice. Fortunately these people have no police to enforce their so-called law and justice. `How many divisions does the Pope have?“, Stalin said already.
Thereupon the mean, mean neighbor became furious.

7) For years you have driven the friends of the mean neighbor out of their apartments.

Unfortunately the mean neighbor still has mobile phones and telephones. Thus he learns every day how friends and relatives of the mean neighbor who live in the Westbank apartment house are driven out of their apartments. A practical means for that is a big partition, that was basically meant for your protection – at least that is what you claimed in your building application. But actually you built this partition not around your apartment, but right through the apartments of these friends. What do they need two living rooms for? One is completely sufficient, in the other one your friends could dwell – demented US Americans who are so forgetful that already after one day of living in somebody else‘s apartment they claim this to be their true home. And if the relatives of the mean neighbor in their own little apartment have to go through a security check, what is the problem? In the end, all of life is a waiting room! And who ever demonstrates peacefully against it may get the Ossietzky prize in Germany, but at home will get tear gas again and with bad luck may get shot for security reasons while demonstrating,. Naturally some friends of the mean neighbor went to court because of the partition through their apartment, the then Foreign Minister of Germany, a complacent man named Fischer, called that `not helpful“. Naturally they won the case, but again there are no police to enforce the law.
Thereupon the mean, mean neighbor became furious.

8) You took possession of the neighbor‘s house 60 years ago.
A long, long time ago the grandfather of the neighbor was the owner of the whole house. At that time your grandparents came into the house, in despair, persecuted, it was a good shelter against the storm. Soon you built a house in the courtyard; after all, the courtyard did not belong to anybody, did it? The fact that the others were no longer getting from one apartment to the other, well, these are only Arabs. Occasionally a few humanistic weirdos came passing by, named Achad ha`Am, Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt, and a few more, who said one should live with the house owners in peace, but for Bakunin’s and Marx’s sake, these Arabs were certainly too primitive for the building of egalitarian housing communities, with such hillbillies one cannot be friendly. And later when Marx was no longer in fashion, one said: for God’s sake, these Arabs have the wrong religion, what do they actually want here in this Holy House? There are enough other houses, they can go there.

And then, from 1947 on, your parents took away most of the apartments from the parents of the mean, mean neighbor, when these fled in fear, panicking in the face of the armed terror of your parents.

And now many descendents of these people live in one apartment in the most densely populated spot on earth, in Gaza. Now, why is it so densely populated?

Thereupon the mean, mean neighbor became furious.

And therefore the German Chancellor and Prof. Oz-Salzberger said: The exclusive responsibility for this war rests on the mean, mean neighbor.

9) Follow-up remarks

In 1890 when the first Jewish Zionists came to what is today Israel, they were fleeing discrimination in the czar’s empire, pillage and murder in pogroms, searching for a free self-determined life that was not possible in their old homeland. This was not a conflict of good against evil, but rather the struggle for a piece of land that was home to the Palestinian Arabs and at the same time appeared as the only possible homeland to the immigrants.

The struggle was won by the Jewish side at the expense of the constant state of war. However, the peace plan has been on the table for a long time. It consists of the Two-State–Solution with Israel’s borders of 1967, in a mutually acceptable regulation on the problem of the Palestinian refugees, in a mutually acceptable regulation on Jerusalem. This was proposed to Israel in 2002 by the member states of the Arab League and recently reconfirmed. Israel does not agree, because Israel cannot decide whether it would rather keep the occupied land in the Westbank and extend it. As long as Israel does not say `yes, we‘d rather have peace, we will give up the occupational regime,“ there will be no peace.

The position of Germany in this conflict is ambivalent. But can the fact that we European Jews were victims of a great injustice that was perpetrated by Germany, give the Jewish state the right to commit injustice to others now? Do German politicians really believe that it is a compensation for the murder of my Jewish relatives that Israel now can do everything that occurs to it boundlessly and without restraint?

On the contrary it would do Israel infinite good, if it were guided out of its fantasized position of the eternal victim and like every other state be imbedded in the international system of regulations. This means that the occupation of the Westbank, the yearlong siege of Gaza and the mass murder of the inhabitants of Gaza since the 27th of December of 2008 must give rise to sanction and boycott measures. The European Union should measure Israel on its progress in observance of international law and human rights, just as it does – justified or not – with Serbia and Turkey.

The legal judgment of the cases of Olmert, Barak and Livni, however, should take place in the same way as in the cases of Milosevic, Mladic and Karadzic in The Hague.

This text, in its German original, will soon appear in the new edition of the book by Rolf Verleger `Israels Irrweg. Eine jüdische Sicht` (`Israel’s wrong way. A Jewish view`, PapyRossa-Verlag, Cologne). It was first published in a slightly changed version on January 5, 2009 at
The author: Prof. Dr. Rolf Verleger is a psychologist at the University of Lübeck. He helped to build up the Jewish Community in Lübeck and the State Association of Schleswig-Holstein and he has been the delegate of the State Association in the Central Council of the Jews in Germany since the year 2006.
Translated from German: Marie and Peter Voss, Munich.

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