Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel wasted no time dictating terms to Hamas after it swept to victory in the Palestinian elections. Her blatant threats to the Palestinians is proof enough that a few Germans still have a little Nazi lingering in the closets of their inner souls. Why is it that so many Germans continue to live in blissful denial of their critical role in the Nakba? The ethnic cleansing of the native Arab population of Palestine in 1948 might never have happened if Hitler had never been born. If Merkel had a gram of decency, she would get off her high Nazi stallion and watch her language when addressing the Palestinian people -- who continue to pay an intolerable price for the genocidal crimes committed by her kin against European Jews.
Standing next to Olmert, Merkel had the audacity to threaten the Palestinians with starvation and economic destitution should they refuse to comply with German and Israeli terms. In making her threats, she was certainly aware that the absence of European aid would amount to collective punishment against an innocent population living under a constant state of siege. For the last 38 years, the Palestinians have endured an Israeli occupation that systematically inflicted harsh economic sanctions including the wholesale destruction of basic infrastructure. In fact, most European aid is spent on fixing public property that was intentionally ruined by the IDF.
Before issuing ultimatums, the German chancellor should consider a review of the demographic realities in Palestine. Until the rise of Hitler, the Zionist project to convert Palestine into an exclusive Jewish country was still a pipe dream. In 1922, Palestine had a population of 650,000 Palestinians and a little over 50,000 Jews. By the end of the Mandate in 1948, the population had increased to 1,380,000 Arabs and 650,000 Jews. The unnatural growth of the Jewish population was facilitated by a heavy influx of immigrants who had survived Nazi extermination camps.
Until the ‘30s, only a minority of European Jews supported the idea of a “return to the Holy Land.’’ The vast majority of European Jews felt very comfortable in their European identities. A French Jew was as a French as French Baptist. A German Jew was as German as a German agnostic. A Russian Jew was more likely to be a Bolshevik than a Zionist. It was the Third Reich that convinced many Jews to accept the Zionist proposal that European Jews should establish a country of their own as a safe haven from the genocidal anti-semitism that swept across the European continent with the rise of Hitler.
Six decades after Hitler blew his brains out in a Berlin bunker, the German chancellor feels entitled to tell the Palestinians that they should recognize Israel. Which Israel are they supposed to recognize? Is it too much to ask Merkel to be more specific? In recognizing Israel, are they supposed to pick up the tab for the Holocaust? Do they have to recognize that the destruction of their towns and villages in 1948 and the expulsion of their people from their native lands were a just repayment for German sins? Does Merkel have a map of the boundaries of the Israeli State to show to the Palestinians? Does it include Jerusalem as the ‘eternal capital of the Jewish State?’ Is she proposing the Apartheid wall as the new border or the 1949 armistice line? Given the fact that nearly 20 percent of the Israeli population within the Green Line is still made up of native Palestinians -- should Israel be recognized as a Jewish state or a binational state? Should we now expect a German crusade to recognize the United States as a white Christian country?
It is easy enough to understand why Merkel is inclined to be so generous in giving away Palestinian land. Perhaps the German chancellor can better nurse her guilt by being equally generous with German land. Allow me to offer a modest proposal. How about a two-state solution? A Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and another Palestinian state on German soil in a land area large enough to accommodate the 400 Palestinian villages and towns that were eradicated by the Zionists in 1948. Maybe the Palestinians languishing in refugee camps can be persuaded to give up their natural right of return to their native land in exchange for the privilege of establishing an independent Palestinian State carved out of Germany.
Is it too much to demand that German crimes should be paid for in German currency? One only has to look at a map to see the enormous size of the German homeland. A few thousand square miles in compensation for Berlin’s crimes against the Palestinians and the Jews would still leave a huge land mass for the magnanimous German people to enjoy the splendor of a guilt free life. It would leave future German generations with a legacy of making real amends for Hitler’s original sin.
I have another idea to assist the chancellor in paying the tab for her country’s guilt therapy. How about making Nakba denial a crime subject to the same punishment as Holocaust denial? Why not make it obligatory for every German child to be taught that the Palestinian catastrophe was a derivative result of the systematic Nazi annihilation of Europe’s indigenous Jewish population.
It is past time for Palestinians, Israelis and Germans to sit down to the negotiation tables and come up with creative and pragmatic solutions to resolve all outstanding problems in a civilized manner. All three sides must make the painful and necessary sacrifices to achieve an honorable and just resolution that satisfies the legitimate aspirations of all parties concerned.
To begin with, it is essential for Merkel’s government to accept its unique responsibility for the tragic condition of the Palestinian people. For six decades, successive German governments have refused to negotiate with the Palestinians. To the Jews, they have offered monetary reparations and words of comfort. As for the Palestinians, they have reserved economic sanctions and condemned their aspiration to live as a free people on their native lands.
No Palestinian should be expected to pick up the tab for the clash of German and Jewish culture in Hitler’s Europe. Some have suggested that the Jewish State should have been carved out of post-war Germany. Given the hideous conduct of Germans and other Europeans during the war, it is hardly surprising that the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were paranoid enough to demand refuge in another continent.
As for Jews and Israelis -- they also need to stop their audacious Nakba denial and avoid the temptation of excusing their crimes as simply a reaction to German genocide. For one thing, the criminal Zionist plots to rid the Holy Land of its native population were in play long before Hitler was a glint in his father’s eyes. When the Zionist activists secured the Balfour declaration from the British government, Hitler was merely a foot soldier in the German Imperial Army. The Zionist movement’s liturgy clearly demonstrates that their genocidal intentions predated the Holocaust.
No progress can be made until Israelis abandon the obscene Zionist dream of a Greater Israel. The 1949 armistice line must be accepted as the final borders of their expansionist state. Within the boundaries of that state, they are obliged by international law and common decency to accept the binational character of the population and grant Palestinian citizens equal rights. Racist immigration and land ownership laws must be changed and Nakba denial should be made a crime. Future generations of Israelis must be taught that their country was built on the ruins of Palestinian homes and that the very air they breathe was confiscated from the original inhabitants. Memorials must be set at the site of every Palestinian village destroyed to make room for Jewish settlements. A national holiday should be reserved to allow Israelis to express their remorse for their genocide against the native people of the Holy Land. Zionist parties must be made illegal and Israeli Jews must come to terms with the fact that their founding fathers were Eastern European colonial usurpers. Israelis also need to abandon their old habits of electing war criminals to the highest office in the land.
The Palestinians also have obligations. Accepting a two-state solution -- one in Germany and another in Palestine –- is a bitter pill to swallow. No amount of reparations can compensate them for six decades of unremitting suffering and repression. No expanse of German territory can destroy their organic links to the lands of their fathers. But the realities on the ground need to be acknowledged. The Jews will not pick up and return to Europe -- the warehouse of their German nightmares.
While every Palestinian has the right to wish that the Zionists had never encroached on their sacred soil, they must also understand the lingering Jewish paranoia of Germans and Germany. Jewish nightmares led to Palestinian nightmares. European anti-semitism was the ultimate cause of their dispossession. They should demand from Germany no less than they demand from Israel. Both Germans and Jews should be held to equal account for their plight.
Having said that, no self-respecting Palestinian should have to accept that Israel has a right to exist in the sense that Jews had a natural right to evict Palestinian communities from their native villages. They certainly should not be expected to recognize Israel as a “Jewish State.” Rather, they must accept a binational state within the 1949 armistice line that will have a predominantly Jewish population and a substantial Palestinian minority. In return, Israel’s Palestinian citizens will be accorded full rights and recognized as ‘Native Palestinians’ in much the same manner that Canada recognizes their indigenous people as the “First Nations.”
Every German deserves a life free of guilt -- but not for free. Merkel and her government need to acknowledge Germany’s obligations to the Palestinian people. Enough already with the public relations campaigns of German remorse for the Holocaust. It is time for Merkel to stop issuing threats of economic sanctions and start carving up a second Palestinian state on German soil. The area allocated to the proposed state must be large enough to accommodate five million Palestinians. It should be delivered with four hundred villages built with stones from the Holy Land. A replica of Haifa should also be constructed to serve as the new capital. Generous reparations need to be paid to allow Palestinians a fresh start in their new European homeland.
Until such time that Germany is willing to negotiate a just and equitable peace with the Palestinians, Merkel and every German should wallow in guilt over the immense suffering they have inflicted on the Palestinian people. The Palestinians are well advised to withdraw their recognition of Germany until the government in Berlin agrees to accommodate their legitimate rights to establish an independent state on German soil. As a matter of principle, they should refuse German aid and declare Germany a belligerent and hostile state that continues to deny its direct responsibility for the Nakba.
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