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August 27, 2012, Monday

Europe’s conscience

A group of German and Austrian scholars, including Professor Udo Steinbach, Professor Jörg Becker and Erich Schmidt, made a declaration known as the “Manifesto of 25” in 2006. The European intellectuals in this declaration strongly opposed the exclusive type of relationship between the West and Israel under which the West expressed unconditional support to Israel due to the Holocaust, even during times when it visibly breached the rules of international law. Opposed to this approach, the intellectuals made a call to their respective governments to reconsider this matter and revisit their relations with the Israeli government.

The declaration, which stated that one of the unnoticed consequences of the Jewish genocide was related to the Palestinian people, also stressed that the Palestinians did not play any role in the emergence of the Middle East issue. The manifesto states that there should be no reference to the role of the Palestinians in the transference of what is a European problem to the Middle East. The drafters of the declaration also stressed that Europe was responsible vis-à-vis Israel, as well as the Palestinians.

One of the most interesting aspects of this declaration was its emphasis suggesting that the Europeans have taken one of their problems to the Middle East where the Palestinians played no role.

The West has experienced troubled relations with Jews throughout history. There have been issues related to racial differences, as well as theological disagreements, which can never be settled. The Jews, who have never felt safe, paid attention to education and trade over concerns that they would have to take their assets with them in times of emergency. Over time, the Jews have acquired control over monetary assets and wealth in their communities; according to Werner Sombart, the interest-loan system is a gift from the Jews to Europe in the emergence of Western capitalism. This has been the primary factor that provoked anti-Jewish sentiments, among others.

The Jews are so strongly subscribed and loyal to their religious and ethnic roots that they have not been assimilated. What has preserved them against assimilation is their religious identity and references. Those who could not assimilate them subjected them to ethnic cleansing -- which is what the Roman Empire attempted to do -- or genocide. This was what the Nazis did in the mid-20th century. It was not only the Germans but also France and other European nations who joined in this horrible genocide.

A state called Israel was created under these conditions after the Nazis were defeated. Only Islamic states have not tried to assimilate the Jews, subject them to ethnic cleansing or commit genocide against them. It was Western nations that committed the greatest brutalities against them. The reasons for the creation of the state of Israel, though not explicitly stated, can be summarized as follows: to get rid of the Jews and throw them out of continental Europe; to cut a deep wound in the heart of the Islamic world and keep them busy with Israel; to make up for the feeling of guilt over the Nazi crimes against the Jews by offering them a state; and to create a center of protection that will represent Western interests in the region. (For more information, see my column on the Dünya Bülteni website dated May 12, 2011.)

In maintaining their silence and indifference to Israeli atrocities, the Western public and intellectuals consider the third option. But it appears that the credit they have granted Israel is about to expire. They are running out of patience because while trying to impose noble values, including the rule of law, fundamental rights and freedoms, upon the entire world, the EU contradicts itself when it exempts Israel from compliance with general legal customs and sanctions. The West now realizes that the primary reason for the ongoing tragedy in the Middle East is the Palestinian issue, referred to as the mother of all issues. In the end, just as the Nazi genocide disturbed the conscience, the Palestinian and Middle East tragedy will disturb the conscience.

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