Until the last federal elections, Germany, it was said, was ruled by a leftist coalition. The more leftist party in the so-called leftist coalition was the Green Party, headed by the so-called fiery radical Joschka Fischer. Fischer’s radical credentials included having once in his youth assaulted a cop in a street protest, speaking clearly, and appearing less dumb than the average politician (he even studied Karl Marx!!). Being so clearly above a very low average, he was wildly popular in Germany.
Fischer, now out of government, pronounced himself on the Lebanon crisis. His intervention offers a window into what passes as “left” in Europe. Not a pretty sight.
Fischer’s grand thesis is that “this war offers a chance for a lasting peace.”
Although Fischer doesn’t agree on the details, his rhetoric that sees war as the midwife of peace is the same as Condoleezza Rice’s “birth pangs of the new Middle East.” George Bush also seeks to achieve peace through war, not only in Lebanon, but also in Iraq and possibly elsewhere. Israel called its First Lebanon War, “Operation Peace for Galilee.” Peace through war is an idea that goes back all the way to the Pax Romana. Rome’s victims saw things differently: “They rob, kill and rape and this they call Roman rule. They make a desert and call it peace”; a fine observation that applies very neatly to the efforts of the U.S. and Israel to make peace in Iraq, Gaza, the West Bank and now Lebanon. You’d think that a leader of the 1968 student radicals would be able to grasp the fundamental incompatibility between peace and mass murder. But you don’t have to be leftist to grasp -- as even so many American defense specialists and intelligence officers do -- that the most likely result of the Second Lebanon War is not peace, but a worldwide radicalization of Muslims and Arabs.
In laying his remodeled peace plan, Fischer makes a number of other observations on the Middle East that are both offensive and ignorant.
Fischer claims the war was “orchestrated by the region's radical forces -- Hamas and Islamic Jihad among the Palestinians, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria and Iran -- which fundamentally reject any settlement with Israel.”
There is no evidence that Syria and Iran planned this war outside of neo-con propaganda, which Fischer channels. And the idea that the isolated cells of the miniscule Islamic Jihad are somehow “orchestrating” anything is laughable. In contrast, we know that the war was planned and rehearsed by Israel for already four years.  Even Hizbullah leaders admitted they did not want and did not expect a war.
Fischer adds his voice of support to those he calls “moderate Arab governments,” i.e. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. All three are autocratic police states that survive by snooping on their citizens and jailing and torturing every voice of dissent. These are now Israel’s and Fischer’s friends. If their torture chambers are such beacons of moderation, shouldn’t Europe import a few? The Saudi government, a medieval fiefdom that received its fief directly from the Earls of Exxon Mobile, bans women from driving and subsidizes the teaching of the most reactionary and sectarian branch of Islam, is now a pillar in the struggle for peace and democracy.
And what does Hizbullah stand to gain from the war? According to Fischer, Hizbullah, the most popular and respected party in Lebanon, a party that could get an absolute majority if ever a “one person, one vote” elections were held in Lebanon, a Lebanese Islamic party that could well win a majority of the Christian vote, is trying to “undermine democratization in Lebanon.” Puhleeeze!
How about democratization in Egypt? Could it be that Hizbullah would like to see more democracy in Egypt?
Bidding farewell to his senses, Fischer accuses Syria of being “rejectionist” and seeking “regional hegemony,” but reserves for Iran alone a “hegemonic claim for the whole Middle East.” (Only Fischer knows the difference between the two types of hegemony.)
Reality check: Syria’s regime is built on the same secular autocratic model that exists in Fischer’s new model “moderate Arab governments,” Egypt and Jordan. Syria is however far weaker, because it doesn’t receive billions of U.S. dollars every year. Therefore, it has no hope for “hegemony”; it is seeking survival. The only reason Syria is not a U.S. client state and hasn’t signed a peace treaty with Israel is because Israel and the U.S. don’t want peace with Syria. Syria would abandon Hizbullah and the Palestinians in a heartbeat if the U.S. gave it what it had given Egypt when it forced Israel to withdraw from Sinai in 1979. Syria has only one demand -- supported by international law -- the return of Israel to the 1967 border in the Golan Heights. Fischer does mention that, but it doesn’t prevent him for blaming Syria for Israel’s rejectionism.
Iran has indeed increased in influence in the last few years, less thanks to its own efforts but as a result of self-defeating U.S. policies. Iran is the only country today threatened by the U.S. with a nuclear attack. And Fischer forgets another country that, unlike Iran, has attacked every one of its neighbors many times, Israel. Israel also has the highest per capital military spending in the world. But according to Fischer, Iran seeks hegemony whereas Israel joins Saudi Arabia and Egypt in an “anti-hegemon” coalition. This is too pitiful. If Fischer ever says this in a speech anywhere in the Middle East, he will be pelted with rotten tomatoes. And deservedly.
Fischer also accuses Hizbullah of trying to release the pressure on Hamas to recognize Israel. But Hamas agreed to peace with Israel. Hamas however refuses to stop fighting unless Israel does, and insists that Israel withdraws from the full Occupied Territories. Fischer is channeling right wing and neo-conservative talking points that obscure Israel’s lack of interest in a fair peace.
There are so many other offensive things in Fischer’s piece that to lay them all bare would be tiresome. But there is one that cannot be passed in silence, because it goes well beyond peddling falsehoods.
Fischer says, “By firing missiles on Haifa, Israel's third-largest city, a boundary has been crossed.”
What then of the firing of missiles on Beirut? Did that not cross a boundary? Apparently not. Israel fired so many missiles on Beirut since 1968 to the present, killing so many thousands of people, that to bomb Beirut again could not cross any new boundary. Perhaps the Lebanese TV stations should move their coverage of the shelling of Beirut to the weather channel. Shelling Beirut is, after all, as unexceptional as the seasons, and Fischer further normalizes it. For him, the deaths in Lebanon are lamentable, but part of the status quo. They do not cross a boundary. Only deaths in Haifa cross a boundary. All lives are valuable, but some are apparently a lot more valuable.
With this, Fischer’s neo-conservative regurgitations reach beyond the mere offensive. Joschka Fischer is proving to be a racist pig with a thick smear of red leftist lipstick. Had he been born a generation or two earlier, he might have been involved in cleansing Poland of Jews. Now he is a great supporter of all things Jewish, including Jewish Apartheid and Jewish supremacy and the right of certain Jews to bomb all opposition to their lordship over the Middle East.
That he is also Germany’s most popular politician should give pause. The lipstick must be very effective. At least that is the charitable interpretation.
is an activist and writer who writes because the pen is sometimes mightier
than the sword and sometimes not. He welcomes comments at:
 Matthew Kalman, "Israel set war plan more than a year ago," SF Chronicle, July 21, 2006; Ilan Pappe, "What Does Israel Want?," The Electronic Intifada, July 14, 2006; Tanya Reinhardt, "What Are They Fighting For?," Dissident Voice, July 13, 2006; AP, "Hizbullah Says Israeli Response a Surprise," July 25, 2006.
Other Articles by Gabriel Ash
Defense Against the Black Arts
* Dear Ayatollah
* Settlements: A User’s Guide
* A Victory for Israeli Democracy
* Don’t Get Mad, Get Going!
* Pink Delusions