German party calls for sanctions on Israel

Evening protest where people wave Palestinian flags

In Germany there is a strictly enforced but intellectually lazy and morally repugnant elite consensus that unconditional support for Israel is necessary to atone for Germany’s murder of millions of European Jews.

Anne Paq ActiveStills

Germany’s left-wing party Die Linke is calling for sanctions on Israel if it proceeds with its planned annexation of large parts of the occupied West Bank.

In Germany there is a strictly enforced – but intellectually lazy and morally repugnant – elite consensus that unconditional support for Israel and inaction in the face of its crimes against Palestinians are necessary to atone for the murder of millions of European Jews in German government death camps.

Few prominent German politicians have the courage or moral clarity to understand that genuine and principled atonement would mean applying the same human rights standards to Israel as to any other country.

Instead, actual German policy amounts to shielding and rewarding Israel as it commits war crimes and perpetrates conquest, occupation and apartheid with impunity decade after decade.

Deviation from this consensus typically draws false smears of anti-Semitism.

In recent years, Die Linke has come in for strong criticism from Palestinians for falling in line with this consensus.

In that context, the latest modest step by Die Linke, which holds 69 seats in the country’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, is a significant departure.

“The planned expropriation and annexation of Palestinian land in the Jordan Valley would impose Israel’s administration, laws and jurisdiction on the Palestinian population without granting them Israeli citizenship,” the party says in a 6 June resolution approved by its executive committee.

“Should the Israeli government resolve to carry out the annexation, Die Linke will advocate for the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement,” the party adds.

That agreement provides Israel with lavish support and privileges from the European Union, but it is supposed to be valid only if Israel respects human rights.

Equal rights required

Notably, Die Linke also appears to be hinting at a shift towards supporting a single democratic state in which Palestinians and Israeli Jews would enjoy full equality.

“In the face of the Israeli government’s seeming rejection of a just two-state solution, in which citizens from both sides would live with equal rights, Die Linke calls for equal civil rights for Palestinians and Israelis,” the party states.

“For Die Linke, the following principle holds everywhere and at all times: All inhabitants of every country should enjoy equal rights – irrespective of their religion, language or ethnic group.”

Yet that basic premise is the antithesis of Zionism, Israel’s racist state ideology, which holds that Palestinians should be denied basic rights, including the right to return to their native country, solely and exclusively because they are not Jews.

But Die Linke stops short of calling for a one-state solution, instead urging the German government to “work towards Israeli and Palestinian self-determination, the recognition of the state of Palestine, and its membership in international organizations.”

The party also reiterates its call for the “suspension of military cooperation with Israel.”

End impunity

Meanwhile, more than 50 UN human rights experts on Tuesday called for Israel to be held accountable for its annexation plans.

The special rapporteurs – who are appointed by the Human Rights Council and function independently – said annexation would “violate a cornerstone principle of international law and must be meaningfully opposed by the international community.”

They note that during 53 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians have been subjected to “profound human rights violations.”

These include confiscation of land and resources, forcible population transfer, excessive use of force and torture, poisoning by exposure to toxic wastes, arbitrary detention and detention of children, economic deprivation, severe restrictions on movement and the “imposition of a two-tier system of disparate political, legal, social, cultural and economic rights based on ethnicity and nationality.”

“These human rights violations would only intensify after annexation,” the UN experts state.

“What would be left of the West Bank would be a Palestinian Bantustan, islands of disconnected land completely surrounded by Israel and with no territorial connection to the outside world.”

The experts note that Israel twice before annexed occupied territory: East Jerusalem in 1980, and Syria’s Golan Heights in 1981.

Yet despite strongly condemning the moves, the UN Security Council “took no meaningful countermeasures” to oppose the annexations or Israel’s ongoing settler-colonization of occupied land.

“This time must be different,” the experts state, urging an “end to impunity” for Israel.

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Jewry's position in the world is not under threat. On the contrary, Jews are flourishing, especially in the land where they are most numerous, the USA. Jews are prominent in business, law, politics, the arts, entertainment. Their average earnings are high and their influence beyond their numerical status. Jews aren't shot by US policemen or killed by having their knees on their necks like American people of colour. Across the world, the condition of the Jews is positive, with a few exceptions. Russia for example. Germany has no reason to identify Jewry with Israel, nor has anyone else. This is the Zionist sleight of hand by which the position of Israel in the international order is conflated with the status of Jewry and thus any criticism of Israel or Zionism rendered coterminus with anti-Semitism. Thus, people who love the plays of Arthur Miller but uphold the rights of the Palestinians are deemed anti-Semitic. That any intelligent ten-year-old can see through this is testament to the virulence of the propaganda which keeps it alive in the public mind. Die Linke have taken the right first step and hopefully other parties will follow, Podemos for example. Israel's impunity, based on the falsehood that to criticise the Israeli State is to attack Jewry, is the Palestinian's oppression. What Natanyahu is bidding for is a one-State Palestine. A Jewish State. A Jewish State makes no more sense than a Christian State or a Flat-Earth State. A State must be the State of all its citizens. That is axiomatic. Otherwise the State is a source of injustice and discrimination and has no legitimacy. Its legitimacy comes from its citizens, not from identification with a belief system. A one-State Palestine is now the only solution, but a democratic State is anathema to the Zionists. There is only one power which can make the difference: the USA. Every US voter bears responsibility. When the common folk of the US accept universal democratic citizenship, the game is up for Israel.

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Jews are as diverse in their economic status as any other group. As most Jews are white, they are not usually subjected to visually based racism. They are subjected to right-wing extremist hate in the USA, as several deadly shootings in recent years show. One frequently hears the complaint that any criticism of Israel or Zionism is dismissed with the charge of anti-Semitism. That's simply untrue. And Germany itself has criticized some Israeli policies, rightly so. Eliminationist criticism (in which the dissolution of the state is the end goal) can be called anti-Semitic. You say "A Jewish State makes no more sense than a Christian State or a Flat-Earth State." You seem to leave out Islamic states. There are many of them. Are you equally opposed to those? Do you believe that the people of the USA should demand universal democratic citizenship in all states, including those you pointedly did not mention?

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Let's put it this way - the people of the USA should and probably do support universal democratic citizenship in all states. Do they 'demand' it? Probably not. But the issue is should the people of the USA accept continuing to foot the bill by way of billions of aid dollars to prop up a State which is determined to maintain a Jewish voting majority at the expense of majority of the Palestinian people. Given the obvious problems within the USA at the moment, US government funds would be better redirected towards American infrastructure, health and education and away from propping up Israel and the consequent cross subsidization of its MIC.

Its true that there is a narrow and closely protected space in which Israeli policies may be safely criticised - such criticism acceptable only to the extent that it resembles a wet lettuce leaf assault. I mean, why bother? Sounds good, means nothing. But criticism which goes to the heart of Israeli expansionism and oppression of the Palestinian people is definitely spurned as 'anti-semitic'. When you say 'eliminationist criticism' you are falsely equating the dissolution of the state with a change in the nature of the State. Israel (or Greater Israel) will still exist if and when all non-Jews are fully franchised citizens. All that changes is the demographic balance between Jews and non-Jews but the State still exists, it will just be a more democratic entity.

When the USA funds, for example Iran, then it there may be a case for its demanding certain things. But it doesn't - in fact it sanctions Iran and bullies other states to join in. Religious theocracies are always problematic but downright abhorrent when the theocracy, as in the case of Israel, can only exist if people of the wrong religion are exiled, transferred or herded without rights into small enclaves.

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You misunderstand me. I have no problem entertaining new constellations for the region. "Eliminationist" refers to opposition to a Jewish state per se - And you are right that I don't have a problem with a Jewish state in general. There is a huge amount of room for improvement, and since all citizens of all faiths living in Israel have the right to vote and representation (that's what I understand by enfranchised), there is a democratic means to achieve change... which is admittedly slow, in any parliamentary democracy. I would wish the same for people of all faiths living in countries that identify as Islamic, for example. To me it seems that Israelis of all backgrounds are constantly arguing over how to move forward, constantly criticizing their leaders and system - and I simply don't see this coming from Islamic states (is there a lack of media coverage? Or just less protest?). Please enlighten me if I am missing something, because self-reflection is key to me. When you speak of a theocracy that exists only by denying rights to people of the wrong religion, are you being an equal opportunity critic, or only looking at Israel? Personally, I start by looking at my own "privilege" and seeing where I can make change in my own environment. But if my discussion partner doesn't seem to be doing the same, looking at themselves, then I have to step back.

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T. Anne - Your earlier post you wrote 'Eliminationist criticism (in which the dissolution of the state is the end goal) can be called anti-Semitic.' By this claim do you mean that Israel will cease to exist as a state if Jews ceased to be a franchised majority? As I see it, if this came about and Jews constituted less than 50% of the voting population, then there is no dissolution of the state as such; merely a change in its demographics.

I personally have no problem per se with a Jewish majority state. I have no strong feelings about 'yearnings' for any or all ethnic/religious people to reside in a state in which they constitute the franchised majority. I do have an issue when these 'yearnings' are realized (or the dream fulfilled) by the forced removal of others to bring about the desired franchised majority. Israel came into being upon the mass transfers of Palestinians in 48 and to a lesser extent in 67. Since 67, the Jewish franchised majority is being protected by the refusal of both the right of return and the internal transfer of Palestinians out of Area C of the W/B in anticipation of an eventual formal annexation of most of the land of the W/B. This cannot be made 'nice' because it satisfies your 'yearnings'. It is not anti-Semitic to call this out.

You may well wish all Palestinians to be fully franchised citizens of a state so long as it is not Israel. Just somewhere else, anywhere else - let them go to either any muslin majority state if muslin and a christian majority state if christian if they really want to realize their right to be franchised citizens of a State. Why should it bother them?

But do you ever once think that they are deeply attached to their ancestral homes and land? Perhaps they can stay herded into small enclaves within Israel but stay there without franchise rights for the government, GOI that fully controls their lives. Its not ant-Semitic to value Palestinian political/civil rights over Jewish yearnings.

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By writing "You may well wish all Palestinians to be fully franchised citizens of a state so long as it is not Israel. Just somewhere else, anywhere else..." and "do you ever once think that they are deeply attached to their ancestral homes and land?" you are making very huge, insulting assumptions about what I as an individual think (I don't hear you assuming anything but the worst). Where is your empathy, where is your honest question? You seem to have decided what I think... I'm sorry if I'm misunderstanding what you have written, but this is my honest reaction. So OK - I will spell it out my answers as if you had asked me: I wish people of any faith and ethnic and national background to be able to be fully franchised citizens of any state. With the right to vote, to serve in the parliament, to live where they wish, marry whomever they wish, and have equal benefits in ever single way, from social support to schooling to medicine to transportation, and on and on. Including Israel. Including Palestine. And yes, I not only think but I know that many or most people of all backgrounds are attached to their ancestral homes and land. All over the world. Now, I am responding here to your assumptions about of what I think. What do you think? Should Muslims, Jews, Christians and others have absolutely equal rights in any and every state? If you agree, we're on the same page. Wishing you all the best.

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Demanding equality is not "eliminationist criticism". Nor is the longed-for condition of equal rights for Palestinians and Israeli Jews a form of racism. The Israeli state as it exists is a lawless, oppressive, violent ethnic autocracy. Insisting on radical, fundamental change to bring that state into accord with principles of justice amounts to a constructive, inclusive proposal. Zionists seem to hold that accepting the full rights of the Palestinian people would entail the dissolution rather than the amending of the state. That in itself is a most telling if tacit admission that the state is constructed for no other purpose than to elevate Jews in every regard over native Palestinians and those in exile, forever.

Finally, if you hold fast to the notion that equality means death for your community, then what kind of life have you been living all these years?

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I agree! Demanding equality is not eliminationist. Striving for equal rights for all is hardly racism - it's democracy pure. However, Israel is not a lawless state. You and I may wish to change some of the laws, as do its citizens. We hear about this all the time. The desire for a state of their own is a longing that most people in the region share. I see no rational reason why they should not have that dream, and why it should not become reality. Zionists whom I know certainly don't think that the establishment of a Palestinian state would necessarily mean the end of the Jewish state. I have heard the same from some Palestinians. They all hope for acceptance by their neighbors. What you claim, I have heard before - "that the state is constructed for no other purpose than to elevate Jews in every regard over native Palestinians and those in exile, forever." I think there are bad elements everywhere, and I am among the first to criticize those of my own people who treat others in this way. It's important to champion those who are able to look within, in one's own community. To me it feels very clear that there also is a part of the Palestinian population that does exactly the same thing - wanting to elevate themselves above others. I figure there are also active critics of this superior approach within the Palestinian community, though I haven't done research on this. Last but not least, you misread me if you think I believe that equality means death for Israel (it's not my community, as you suggest). There needs to be more equality across the region. I don't single out Israel for critique on this score.

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The formation of the Israeli state was set in motion by an organised movement of European colonists, aided and abetted by administrators of the British Empire. The aim of this project, which Zionists took few pains to disguise, was to usurp the land of Palestine, dispossess and expel the indigenous people while introducing a new population from abroad, and in so doing to establish a militant, exclusionary ethnic state. In this endeavor they have largely succeeded.

Redressing this pattern of gross misconduct requires a dismantling of the mechanisms of oppression upon which it's built. All those structures- legislative, military, religious, bureaucratic and ideological- are deeply embedded in the state of Israel and must be removed. This would entail the eradication of Jews-only privilege, extension of full voting rights to Palestinians under Israeli control (Gaza and West Bank), an end to discrimination in housing, education, policing, land tenure, travel and other impositions currently in place. Finally, the right of return for all expelled Palestinians and their progeny must be implemented in full, with compensation paid for the massive injustice they have endured.

From all this, it ought to be obvious that preserving a "Jewish state" is incompatible with resolving the long crisis faced by Palestinians at the hands of that state. As for claiming that Israel isn't a lawless nation, based apparently on the fact that it possesses a legislature and legal code, one has only to recognise that as a matter of fixed policy the state stands in open, defiant violation of so many international conventions governing war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace, aspects of customary law, the United Nations charter, International Court of Justice rulings, and many other strictures, that the matter isn't even seriously disputed by Israel itself- merely ignored.

Don't stop feigning good will, though. Someone's bound to listen, even now.

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Don't stop feigning good will - this is good advice all around. The right of return, the right to equal representation, the dissolution of states with complex colonial and religiously-based backgrounds (and their redesign based on democratic systems with full, equal rights for all) - these are ideals to be striven for, and not just in one region. If - and I am not assuming - you only want one state with a painful history to be dissolved or dismantled, then your good will is not applied with the broad brush. If - and this is what I would hope - you apply the same standards all around, then your partner in the conversation will not react defensively but will engage in discussion about how such revolutionary change is possible in a way that is fair to all. Wishing you well.

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How can anyone talk about “a deal” over property that doesn’t belong to him?

It’s absurd on its face. And it totally violates the rule of law, the foundation of all organized society.

But almost no one in authority says a word. Either in the US or in European states like Britain and France.They all are intimidated by the Israel lobby.

Can you even imagine Trump’s demeanor if a group of, say, BLM protesters decided they were taking over Mar-a-Lago for reparations?

The only actual “deal” involved here is Trump collecting millions of dollars in campaign funds in return for turning a blind eye to grand theft.

The actual nature of the deal I have previously analyzed. You can find it here:

https://chuckmanwordsincomment...

It is also very hard to understand how ordinary Americans can support the destruction of Palestinian homes.

America is full of lore and ideals around the subject of homes.

As "A man's home is his castle," or "Home, sweet, home" or the simple emotional word, "homesick."

Obviously, the subject means a lot.

You are even able to shoot an intruder into your home with impunity in America.

So, how can Americans accept such horrible scenes as poor peoples' homes being bulldozed by Israelis?

Simple, they never see them.

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This is a small but significant step for which Die Linke should be commended.

Israel has enjoyed impunity for far too long. The time for individual citizens to organize within their communities to call for boycotts of Israeli products and companies is now. The time for organizers to pressure institutions to cut ties with Israeli institutions that benefit from Israel’s illegal colonization and apartheid of Palestine is now.

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Kudos to the Die Linke party for voicing what needs to be said. End for once and for all the cowering of people that have lost their moral courage and call a spade a spade .
Let this new voice by the Die Linke party be the beginning of a loud voice throughout the world and accomplish a long overdue reparation to the Palestinian people.

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Will Israel proceed with annexing here? They keep talking about doing it but haven't yet. So will they really?

Do you really think they'll do as they keep threatening to do here or not?

If so, why? If not, why not?

Me? Dunno. Really don't anymore.

But it all keeps being discussed and flaring up and down. Going nowhere fas ..slow.

Painful enough from a vast (in many aspects) distance. But I don't have to live there. I'm not Israeli or Palestinian. Just a confused Aussie bystander. I read stuff and it all ..stays horribly the same but worse? If that makes sense?

I've read and enjoyed your 'One Country' book. Glimmers of hope there. But now? Please.

What is the way to somewhere better for everyone who lives there and how do we / they all find it? Oh & how can we help in that?

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Israel is only a tiny fly-blown country in the armhole of the Levant. It has one of the biggest Merchants of Death; Elbit Systems. Which is the equivalent of Germany`s Krupps.

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Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.