By S.M. Mohamed Idris
It is outrageous that the German Cabinet chose to hold a joint meeting last week with the Israeli Cabinet in Berlin at a time when the Israeli government is oppressing the Palestinians in a way that has been likened to what the Nazis did to the Jews in Europe before and during the Second World War. While children and vulnerable adults in Gaza are dying because of food and medical shortages as a result of the 3-year old medieval-type Israeli siege, Angela Merkel's government was honouring the politicians responsible for this 21st century barbarism.
The report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, headed by the distinguished and respected international jurist Richard Goldstone (the "Goldstone Report"), a Jew and a friend of Israel, came to the conclusion that the Israeli forces in Gaza had committed serious breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. They include wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health; and extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. They also used Palestinians as human shields which constitutes a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Goldstone also found that the series of acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water; that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country; that limit their right to access a court of law and an effective remedy; could all lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed.
These are serious crimes under international law which require the international community to prosecute and punish the perpetrators. Richard Goldstone has warned that the culture of impunity in the region that has existed for too long is undermining any hope for a resolution of the Palestine-Israel conflict:
"The lack of accountability for war crimes and possible crimes against humanity has reached a crisis point; the ongoing lack of justice is undermining any hope for a successful peace process and reinforcing an environment that fosters violence. Time and again, experience has taught us that overlooking justice only leads to increased conflict and violence."
Goldstone's advice is clear: "…the international community must confront the realities highlighted in this report and that by doing so find a meaningful basis for the pursuit of peace and security for all the people of the region. Only in that way will the human dignity and security of these people be realised."
Germany is a party to the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols and thus is under the obligation to prosecute the Israeli leaders for their alleged war crimes, and not reward them by upgrading Germany's relations with Israel and entering into co-operation agreements with the Zionist state. Has, Germany, a democracy, abandoned its commitment to promoting respect for international humanitarian law? By protecting Israel from being brought to account for its violation of international law and United Nations resolutions, the United States and some European Union member states like Germany, Britain and France are encouraging the Zionist state to continue with its oppression of the Palestinians.
Before their meeting, the members of the two Cabinets visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum. They should have paid special attention to the section on Hitler's siege of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Jewish uprising in 1943, with which Israel's siege of Gaza has been compared. Professor Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and an international law authority, who is also a Jew, has described the situation in Gaza as a "holocaust in the making".
What the Zionists are doing to the Palestinians in the land on which they have been living for thousands of years is what the Nazis, under Hitler, did to the Jews in Germany – nothing less than ethnic cleansing; in this case, slow genocide. The Nazis wanted to get rid of the Jews from Europe, as the Zionists want an "Israel" free of Palestinians. The expulsion of the Palestinians from their homes through violence, terror and intimidation began 62 years ago with the implementation of the notorious "Plan D" by the Zionist militias. Yitzhak Rabin, later Prime Minister and Nobel Prize Peace Prize winner, signed the order that began the attempt to expel an entire population. It read: "The inhabitants of Lydda must be expelled quickly without attention to age. Implement immediately."
An Israeli scholar has described the ensuing exodus: "A multitude of inhabitants walked one after another. Women walked burdened with packages and sacks on their heads. Mothers dragged children after them… Occasionally, warning shots were heard… Occasionally, you encountered a piercing look from one of the youngsters… in the column, and the look said: We have not yet surrendered. We shall return to fight you." This scene is reminiscent of what happened in Nazi Germany; then the victims were Jews, now they are Palestinians.
During the press conference held jointly by the German and Israeli politicians, Chancellor Merkel threatened wide-ranging sanctions against Iran unless it abandon its uranium enrichment programme, even though such a programme is within Iran's legal rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It was hypocritical of her to make such a demand on Iran, which has no nuclear weapons, in the presence of the Prime Minister of Israel, which is the fourth largest nuclear power in the world. Iran is a signatory to the NPT and its nuclear facilities are subject to regular intensive inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Israel has not signed the NPT and keeps its nuclear capabilities behind closed doors.
Possessing more than 200 nuclear weapons, Israel also has sophisticated delivery systems from the air, sea and land – all developed and produced secretly with assistance from the US and some EU states. Merkel did not utter one word about it at the press conference. Iran, in the modern era, has never attacked another country whereas Israel has gone to war with its neighbours several times and is now preparing to attack Lebanon – again and Iran. And yet, the West threatens Iran. Why this double-standard?
If the West is really sincere about wanting to rid the world of violence, war and terrorism by state and non-state actors and usher in an era of peace, then it must abandon its imperial aims and its hypocrisy in international relations. It must deal with conflicts like the Palestine-Israel conflict on the basis of justice and international law, and not be driven by narrow national interests and pressures from rich and powerful lobbies. It must also heed the warning of Justice Richard Goldstone: "Overlooking justice only leads to increased conflict and violence."
S.M. Mohamed Idris is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Citizens International, a global initiative to foster awareness, activism and advocacy on issues that are central to the stability and well-being of humanity at the beginning of the 21st Century.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.