January 25, 1988
I know – you are already fed up with reading about the Israeli problem. Imagine what it’s like here.
I had planned to include a letter from a German Middle East correspondent. It was published in the J-Post 2 days ago, mainly because it is the 6th or 7th reference recently to the massacre of the +/- 20,000 Syrians in Hama in 1982 and the hypocrisy of criticism against Israel.
Then, this morning, Aviva, not knowing that I has cut this out, referred to the comments on Genscher’s 24-hour visit to Israel yesterday. She felt that he was extremely sympathetic to Israel’s cause, making a very good and strong impression on her (and many of the citizens) as an excellent diplomat. So this letter was particularly relevant.
And how did my conversation this morning with Aviva continue? For instance, we referred to the opinion of many that people should not criticise if they are ignorant of the facts. But where do you draw the knowledge line? I often had that accusation thrown at me when I was visiting this country; that I was influenced by a biased press etc.
Now I live here. Is my criticism more objective? The politicians in this country are among the most informed persons, and yet their views differ incredibly, from far right to far left. So it’s not only what you know, it’s also what you think.
Today’s headlines, even in Israel, are very objective, and therefore, in my eyes, very worrying. 2 days ago, the Peace Now movement had a march of 25,000 through Tel Aviv. The country is being torn more and more apart. The right-wingers are toughening, we on the left are screaming for peace negotiations now. To Hell with pride!
As long as Israel retains its military strength for as long as necessary – and that is imperative – then Israel should go to the negotiating table without any pre-conditions. Arafat, Assad and other such guys would be crazy to believe that a call for peace from Israel would be a sign of weakness.
Israel really set itself up. From the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel established a state that would be an example of democracy. But ‘perfect democracy’ is Utopian, and with the normal, let alone the abnormal problems that Israel has had to face in its 40 years, this is where we’ve arrived.
I don’t think any others could have done better. People are always expecting Israel to live up to moral standards they themselves have no hope of achieving. And Israel is also turning to be ‘just another democratic country’.
I expect this to be the last I write on this subject for a while. (Thank God, they say). There will be plenty of opportunity for more later on.