Germany: German-Israeli Consensus Diplomacy

Showing no interest in international law, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz blocked the declaration on Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territory at the request of the International Court of Justice to review the legality of such a takeover. A further 57 states, including the US, France and the UK, submitted their written assessments in The Hague before the deadline. After the German abstention, there was a great political vacuum.

By Carolina Menéndez Trucco

It is time to talk about Israel-Palestine with human logic, but above all from a historical materialism. Israel’s practice is a decisive truth proof. As the open letter that more than a thousand intellectuals and scientists, mostly Jews, signed and made public a few weeks ago clearly states: “There can be no democracy for the Jews in Israel as long as the Palestinians live under an apartheid regime.” Similarly, it has been recognized in its report by the human rights organisation Human Rights Watch, among many others. Even so, the current far-right, anti-Palestinian Israeli government is not intimidated and continues to allow illegal settlements in the occupied territory. The facts speak for themselves. Israel conquered the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in 1967 in the so-called Six-Day War with Egypt. Since then, its army has been omnipresent in the region and has not stopped massacring Palestinian militants and civilians, advancing further and further into their territories.

Human rights are an intrinsically international issue. What does Germany do about it? The blind eye. Recently, Chancellor Olaf Scholz blocked a statement from the Federal Foreign Office (AA) which, at the request of the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ), assessed the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory in accordance with international law. According to some of the few voices in favour of Palestine that rise on German soil, the traffic-light[1] coalition that has governed Germany since December 2021 has shown certain differences. The cautious expressions of concern that came from within the ecologist Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), in the mouth of its foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, in any case didn’t make a dent. In the end, as a result of the Chancellery direct intervention, neither the environmental minister nor the rest of the Social Democratic (SPD) and liberal (FDP) cabinet spoke out on the issue. As they say, silence is consent.

The utopia of a ceasefire

The zionist violent action has been planned for a long time. As the death toll continues to rise after repeated war escalations and volatile ceasefires, the latest negotiations in Egypt have stalled and unfortunately, Israel resumed attacks after the latest truce came into force. Up to 139 Palestinians have been killed as a result of Israeli assaults in the Palestinian territories since the beginning of 2023, of whom at least 25 died in the Gaza Strip. The situation in the West Bank, especially in the cities of Jenin and Nablus, has been aggravated by the continuous Israeli incursions. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, January and February 2023 saw the highest number of Palestinians killed since 2000.

The seizure of power

Demonstrations are taking place outside, judicial reforms are being voted on inside: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is tilting his country ever further to the right. Despite the massive protests, the far-right, anti-Palestinian, Zionist government wanted to proceed with its plans to weaken the judiciary vis-à-vis the Knesset (Israeli’s unicameral parliament) and the government. Its common thread: the dissolution of civil rights gains and the abolition of the already weak separation of powers.

The alleged judicial coup triggered reactions of rejection around the world and an unprecedented sustained protest by hundreds of thousands of people in Israel. Hence, it has stalled for the moment. After all, the dismantling of democratic rights in Israel should affect the public relations strategy with Germany and the rest of the countries, even if commercial and power supports tip the scales.

A partial vision

Considering the informative discourse, the disproportionality of coverage is notable. Not a single German news platform mentioned, for example, anything about the largest military operation in the West Bank since 2005: Earlier this year, a single Israeli attack on Jenin killed nine people, including a 16-year-old girl and a woman of 61. Said terror must be condemned. But the media reports in Germany and most of the big international broadcasters are totally distorted on the issue: they place the violent attacks in the context of the Palestinian side and present only the Israeli perspective. The balance then leans towards the side of the West’s ally. We are not just talking about the United States, Israel has long had close economic and military relations with Western European countries, mostly Germany. He’s a major buyer of its  weapons, and now vice versa. It has just closed the largest defensive deal in its history by selling an Israeli-American anti-missile system.

Within the framework of a generalised global rearmament, the fact that a corrupt, far-right and fascist government has been elected in Israel, driven by the anti-Palestinian agenda of the ultra-religious, which is partly responsible for the escalation in the region, although it tries to go unnoticed, it is not fortuitous.

In addition to the usual one-sided image often in the German media about the conflict, the Germans themselves are also divided, the population itself is divided in the polls. Although less than half of those consulted in a national survey acknowledge having a special responsibility towards the Jewish people for the atrocities committed during Nazism, only 36% equate the current Israeli policy towards the Palestinians with the treatment of the Jews during the Nazi era. And while 62% rate Netanyahu’s ultra-conservative government negatively, another 46% have a positive image of Israel and only 34% see the country with bad eyes. At least 54% see Israeli policy towards the Palestinians as unfair.

From recount to commitment. From a German perspective, history must always be kept in mind, especially in the face of the current neo-Nazi resurgence. However, responsibility for the Holocaust cannot lead to indifference towards the Palestinian conflict, much less exempt Germany from taking a position.

The cost of looking the other way

Silence then should not become an official German position or anyone else’s, but unfortunately the closed system of German-Israeli consensual diplomacy does not call injustice, apartheid and deeds by name. Instead of acknowledging the tragic Palestinian situation and supporting their struggle with commitment, a large majority choose not to act on the matter.

Specifically, today, the phenomenon applies in Israel. The silent injustice that is generally repressed by the majority of the media and by a large part of the population is based on the metaphor that gives its name to the progressive manifesto presented by the 1,500 Jewish professionals from the United States and Israel-Palestine: “Elephant in the room.” However, we must not give up in the fight in defence of the Palestinian cause and for a better world. In the words of Leon Trotsky: “Exposing the truth about the situation to the oppressed is opening the way for revolution.”

Solidarity and revolutionary change

Thinking about what happens from a socialist empathetic perspective provides a crucial key to deeply understanding the structure and change of a society. Thus, these consequences of history and the present have brought tragic and paradoxical consequences as in the Middle East: on the one hand, a growing imbalance of Israeli power, and on the other, a fair Palestinian cause that deserves support on a global scale.

For this reason, today more than ever, it is necessary to denounce the atrocious Israeli occupation. This means that all countries should consider Palestinian recognition, a fact that would represent an important step forward in unmasking Israel’s impunity at the international level.

From there, the fight must continue until the Zionist State of Israel is dismantled and a free and democratic Palestine is recovered in all its original territory, where all peoples and creeds can live in peace. As was well concluded during the 2nd Congress of the International Socialist League (ISL): “The way to achieve this result is the joint struggle of the heroic Palestinian resistance and the Arab peoples of the region, stepping over their Israeli-complicit governments, with the support of anti-Zionist democratic Jews who are among those mobilising in Israel today against the Netanyahu government and the extreme right and, in the process, building a strong revolutionary party”.

[1] It is called this way because of the colours that identify the three parties that make it up.