Note: This article appeared first in Mondoweiss where it was followed by a lively and worthwhile debate.Activism
Through statements issued by both the PLO and Palestinian civil society groups, and protests at German Representative Offices, Palestinians have unanimously condemned the German Parliament’s anti-Palestinian resolution attacking the right to boycott. Photo: Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)
Last week, the German Parliament passed a resolution that demonizes the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. Other countries, England and France for example, have taken a similar formal stand against BDS. More nations, such as Canada and the USA, are toying with the illogical option of delegitimizing their own long-held constitutional principles to guard the interests of a foreign country.
But, especially in the case of Germany, even though the decision is only a non-binding gesture, it is morally and esthetically revolting. Israel’s entire claim to its right to an independent racially-defined nation state is rooted in the mythical claim to an ancestral home and the equally mythical claim to descent from a single Semitic tribe that once inhabited it. With the factual revelations of the likes of Shlomo Sand, such claims lost any rock-bottom basis they might have sought to claim; their strength shifted to moral and esthetic aspects of that well-entrenched myth. Hence, morality and esthetics have gained the high ground in the relevant debate, relegating the legal issues to the background. Israel is the valiant realization of the romantic dream of the long-suffering Jews who were exiled from the Holy Land, the accepted myth holds. Buying into that, as most people in the West, especially evangelical Christians, have, requires much imagination, romanticism and ideology that skews rationality.
With the light now focused on the international debate regarding the legitimacy of Israel’s historical claims and with it having successfully pushed out the Palestinian presumed competitors in the international arena out of the Sumo wrestling circle, the entire cheering audience, nearly all the Western World, has little to go on other than the visible muscle power of the two wrestlers. In this light, the legitimacy of the referees becomes critical. To start with, such referees were supposed to have matched two equivalent competitors, a total fallacy in our case. And the referees are supposed, prima facie, to take a neutral stand. That is why the credentials of German politicians in judging what is and what is not anti-Semitic are critical, especially in terms of, again, morality and esthetics. Imagine American experts advising the Vietnamese and Cambodians on their roles in rejuvenate their forest canopies after the end of that war. Or, to take a more current example, imagine Myanmar’s ruling generals advising neighboring countries on how to settle Rohingya refugees.
Listen, my German friends! You have lost any moral right to even have an opinion on the matter, especially when arbitrating between two presumably Semitic peoples. It is not only morally wrong. It is esthetically ugly beyond a normal person’s ability to countenance. Just stay out of the damned mess and keep your mouth shut.
You, German politicians, have admitted your responsibility for all the anti-Semitic evil actions against the Jews that your predecessors have committed. That is admirable. And you rightly continue to pay compensations for the harm done in your names. But that has been limited only to the harm done to part of the direct victims of your predecessors. What you owe us, the Palestinians, is to stand tall and admit to colluding with all the other guilty Western Powers in making us, the Palestinians, your indirect substitute objects of blame. You all colluded with the Zionist settler colonialist project to push the Jews out of Europe and to assist them in claiming our homes as theirs. Ergo, we the Palestinians became, and are still viewed by you, Israel and the world at large as surrogate Germans who ought to pay up in kind for all Germany’s inherited guilt and to continue to suffer for its past criminal acts against the presumed Jewish branch of the Semitic race. And now you dare to pass judgement on us for peacefully demanding our rights under international law. Now you have the audacity to ascribe to me your predecessors’ innermost ugly sentiments in order to aid and abet our continued victimization as surrogate Germans and anti-Semites.
You guys are mixed up. Your attempt at atonement to the Jews is backfiring. From where I stand you look ridiculously and utterly uncouth, even when you think you are joining an international chorus. You are not only ethically wrong. You are esthetically ugly. Get this straight: Germany has lost the right to act as referee on the dark issue of anti-Semitism. “Never again” is the outcry of humanity at large. No one, including you and Netanyahu and his rabidly fascist supporters, has the right to assign Nazi guilt to far-fetched strawmen like the Palestinians. As a member of that aggrieved nation and a human being committed to peacefully demanding my equal rights and peace of mind, I hereby command you to step aside and to stop stoking the fires of hate by painting us, Palestinians, with Europe’s past bloody colors of anti-Semitism. Your only proper role is to apologize, not only to the Jews but to humanity at large. And to pay compensations, not only to the Jews but also to your secondary and indirect victims like us, the Palestinians. And, in addition to compensations for the harm that your predecessors have done us indirectly, you should pay an equivalent fine for your current depraved, uncouth and vulgar behavior. I dare you to reverse your steps and to start acting humanely. You can pay what you owe humanity at large to UNRWA.