Monday, May 12, 2008

The Poisoned Congratulations of German Know-It-Alls

Interesting commentary.

[Herzl]'d probably think: "This isn't how I imagined it, but I like it." Because he would see a high-tech center with laboratories in which hundreds of experts work for Microsoft, Motorola and Nokia, surrounded by shopping malls and restaurants. Some 20 years ago this was an area of auto repair workshops and warehouses, and 40 years ago there was nothing but the wind whistling between the dunes.

And here is an interesting sentence; my emphasis.

But there is something that hasn't changed, a strangely constant element in the turbulent, crisis-ridden life of the world's smallest major power.

I never think of Israel as a major power, but, of course, it is. And what hasn't changed is a fact that not even the visionary Herzl could foresee. Israel's existence is called into question day after day -- not just by militant Palestinian organizations such as Fatah and Hezbollah and the president of Iran, but also by congenial European intellectuals who devote themselves to the "Middle East question" with the dedication of someone who has long since completed all his other homework.

Having criticized their own societies sufficiently, they turn to look for other objects to criticize, and Israel is easy to criticize. Of a larger group, three German thinkers including the political scientist Johano Strasser, Green Party parliamentarian Claudia Roth and writer Gert Heidenreich published a paper to mark Israel's 60th birthday entitled "Congratulations and Concerns."

Israel, the writers warn, is endangering "its own existence", "making a fool of the whole world," and "deceiving itself." The paper calls on German politicians "not to lose sight of the connection between the extremely difficult economic and political situation of the Palestinians on the one hand and the uncertainty and menace facing Israel on the other."

Another set of thinkers had com eup with a real doozy.

The paper "Congratulations and Concerns" was preceded by another position statement: "Friendship and Criticism," written by 25 political scientists who accuse Israel of instrumentalizing the Holocaust for its own political ends and who call for a rethink of the "special relationship" between Germany and Israel in order to render the "internal German discourse" between "non-Jewish, Jewish and Muslim Germans" broader and more impartial.

Not just Germans.

there is hardly any well-known writer who has not made some kind of statement about Israel. Jostein Gaarder, the Norwegian author of the bestseller "Sophie's World," wrote Israel out of the pages of history with the words: "We no longer recognize the State of Israel." Gore Vidal, the American author who lives in self-imposed exile in Italy, South Africa's Breyten Breytenbach and the Portuguese author Jose Saramago have all also expressed their opinions, with latter comparing the situation in Ramallah to Auschwitz. When asked where the gas chambers were, he reportedly replied: "There are no gas chambers, yet."


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