Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Relation to Middle East

A good description for the failed EU foreign policy in the Middle East is that 'peace talks' have been put on ice (in reference to Eldrige Cleaver's book 'Soul on Ice' and what may be even more of interest when following the path Malcolm X took when he joined the Muslim Brotherhood).

Tony Blair, after his tenure as Prime Minister of Great Britain, headed a commission for the Middle East. He went silent once Syria erupted in an internal violent conflict starting with January 2011 when Assad mistook peaceful demonstrations as the sign of forces ready to oust him under the slogan of 'regime change' - something having negative connotations ever since American and other troops evaded Iraq in 2003 to oust Saddam Hussein. By now the conflict in Syria is at the risk of engulfing Turkey (as of 3.October 2012 when four Turkish civilians were killed in a cross border attack by forces on the Syrian side.)

Another conflict line is between Israel and Iran about the prospect of building a nuclear bomb. It has led to the imposition of sanctions against Iran with signs of growing unrest about loss of value of the national currency and consequently a stoppage of retail trade along with small business unable to survive. Iran in turn supports Assad in Syria as do the Russians and Chinese in the sense of official policy as expressed fore mostly in the Security Council of the United Nations.

The Arab spring and subsequent changes have made things even more complicated as it has thrown all these countries into a transition mode with Egypt leading the way with the election of Morsi as President. It means the Muslim Brotherhood and the military power co-exist with no one sure to what extent secular rights shall prevail and be respected. Once Islamic law is imposed, then it will be much more difficult to uphold the present as being an improvement over the past e.g. women enjoyed many Rights in Libya under Gaddafi than what is in prospect for them now. The reason for this threat of especially women's Rights has to be understood as an overall reaction against the emancipation of women. This reaction has set in as early as 1979 when Chomeiny returned to Iran and seized power by overthrowing with his revolutionary forces the Shah of Persia.

Hatto Fischer 7.10.2012


A retrospective: European policy in the midst of failed peace talks (2002 - 2012)

Once Hamas was elected, the European Union followed suit what Israel proposed and which was accepted internationally, namely that for purpose of security Israel must seal off all borders with Gaza and put in force a siege. It meant in effect not to recognize the election results of the Palestinians who voted Hamas into power. Whatever the explanation, it was one of those typical turn-arounds of the West. First, free and fair elections were advocated and many international observers attested they were, but then after having second thoughts and in not liking the outcome, the Hamas rulership was not recognized.

The European Union has been donating a lot of aid to the Palestinians but also the specific aid going to Gaza was put on hold.

An exact monitoring of European responses during the time period 2007 - 2010 would be needed to understand at least partially the thinking behind the moves in Brussels. Certainly the European Union had to deal with its own internal problems and hoped to alleviate them with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty towards the end of 2009 by having then finally installed one foreign policy spokesperson representing the entire European Union. As it turned out in the first half of 2010 this single foreign policy voice has yet to be convincing.

Thus in the absence of an overall structured way on how to deal with the huge discrepancies between Israel and the Palestinians, it is fair to say that Israel is still receiving preferred treatment. The words of criticism by European leaders, fore mostly French President Sarkozy, are mild when Israel does show an unnecessary form of force violating human rights and international law. If the same would be committed by the Palestinian side, condemnation would be much stronger worded and even actions which would follow such wording take on forms of immediate impact and effect.

It seems that the soft power of the European Union pays only scant attention to the marked difference between violent and non violent actions. Constantly is accepted Israel's Right to defend itself but no one on the European side seems capable of questioning this security agenda. It is understood that the Right to defend itself means Israel being able to hold nuclear weapons with no one speaking really about it while at the same time the European Union joins in the chorus of those wishing to boycott Iran for non compliance to the treaty and need for nuclear deterrence. Just now the Russian President Medevef and the Chancellor of Germany, Merkel have agreed on sanctions of Iran without mentioning at the same time Israel's refusal to attend the world meeting on nuclear disarmament. It does not make sense to uphold such double standards but the European Union continues to follow suit whatever the United States thinks is in the best of interest for Israel.

Crucial after the attack on the Flotilla by Israel on May 31, 2010 is the changed attitude of Turkey. One analyst speaking to the BBC during an interview on the fall-out of this attack refers to the sluggish progress made by the quartett of four under the leadership of Tony Blair, so that Turkey could step into the power vacuum and claim the high grounds of morality. In no certain terms it means whoever is capable of showing to be on the side of the Palestinians, is sure to have the support of the masses of people in the Middle East. To these masses Barack Obama attempted to speak to when raising his voice about the need to rethink the relationship between the Islamic and the Western world. Yet if nothing is done in terms of effective solidarity but rather like Egypt complying with Israel's request to seal off the borders to the Gaza strip, then all those in power to alter perception so as to advance in peace making efforts have failed. For the people in the streets it does matter whether or not something is done immediately to alleviate the pain of the hungry. For the more complex mechanisms of governance via diplomacy and activitivism on the international stage, it means to postpone yet again another need to take a hard look at what is happening in the Middle East but delivering a verdict of guilty by default. The failure to act in a humane way is what makes it so difficult to ascertain any other option within international channels of communication.

It would be crucial to have an impartial world opinion be brought about by not taking sides but by being truthful in all accounts as to what took place during such horrific events like the attack by Israeli soldiers of the boats with aid on their way to the Gaza strip. Political argumentations like the ones of Israel with the claim that its soldiers were attacked and therefore they needed to defend themselves is mostly naive. Since when would Israel expect of its own soldiers and people to stand still if they were attacked? The quadmire of violence begins with such naive argumentations to justify what cannot be justified. Here the European Union as soft power should step in and argue differently but as usual the case Europe has not found as of yet a convincing voice in these and other international affairs.

European policy

The European Union had to come a long way before it learned to pacify its nationalist interests. That situation is still far from being perfect. The most recent outbreaks of violence in former Yugoslavia are but a reminder how horrific power can become, if people belief only in their own ethnicity and thereby wish to cleanse themselves from all other possible influences.

The rise of the Extreme Right in Europe is explained by the fear of waves of immigrants wishing to come due to their countries due to the better living conditions. In reality a demographic need for these newcomers exists in terms of reshaping the labor force. All that underlines new constellations of dependencies and complexities having to do with a changing economy and society. Shimon Peres speaks about the Information Society depending more upon knowledge than land for its survival. Yet due to increase in uncertainty, people do not care for more information but become impatient when there are no immediate tangible results in sight. Real political analysis is then easily replaced by oversimplifications and such slogans that appear to lead to fast success, when in fact long-term thinking is needed.

Unfortunately many politicians deny that. They wish just to exploit the fear of the unknown and therefore speak about only the one side of the equation. In Germany political asylum is not granted to someone wishing to escape economic plight, even if that means not only poverty, but also starvation and slow but certain death.

Towards clarification as to what position will bear fruits

Two premises are needed to be stated at the outset to comprehend the limitations of being informed and therefore to know what is possible in the Middle East.

  1. It is not only governments, but equally the media is confused as to on whose side one should stand at any given moment, in order to inform and to assess the situation in compliance with normal expectations of safeguarding human lives.
  2. Since peace negotiations, lead by the vision of creating a Palestinian state, have become most difficult due to always new preconditions being raised by the Israeli side, it is sometimes very difficult to attain any progress in the praxis of clarification, if justifications and rationalizations of still further violent measures can outbid any time constraint.


In the latter case, the hesitation of President Bush after appeals by even President Mubarek to propose a concrete time plan underlines the one contingent problem: the perpetuation of violence due to a lack of knowing how to insitutionalise the council for peace in the Middle East.

In the first case, matters of interest and of conflict should be referred to bring about the articulation of simple goals, so that mediation between all sides involved could regain a momentum towards a lasting peace.

Together these two premises would mean undertaking simultaneous efforts in all areas of controversial issues e.g. education (and not only in terms of formal compared to informal educational fields, but in what is the culture of peace compared to an incitement of violence linked to training minds not to question violent means of survival in negation of any institutional and legally binding way of safeguarding peace.

Somehow the Western diplomats have difficulties in finding the exact language needed to correspond to Israel’s vital interests while not justifying Palestinian violence and yet recognize their grievances as legitimate departure point for stipulating terms between the two sides.

Unfortunately no one seems to have a clear enough overview to be able to initiate something like Jimmy Carter did when bringing Egypt and Israel together.

The problem of taking sides or not is undermined by two measures being constantly applied. The reluctance to be critical of Israel’s policy blinds many analysts in what political reality entails in any case. One sided measures to the question of violence are not only applied due to the military capacity of the Israeli army, but also because all moral judgments are restrained since the very history of the Holocaust has lead to the creation of the Israeli state. That difference remains a crucial reference but how this determines really the practical terms of negotiation, remains to be seen.

Practical terms differ also insofar as Israel is a state with a standing army while the Palestinian Authority has a much lower status. Although it deploys its own security forces in collaboration with both the CIA and secret services of Israel, it is clearly a non-state, subordinate organization to that of states recognized by all world bodies.

Human judgment must prevail at all times when such atrocities and war crimes are committed that increase people’s plight.

In the case of Israel, what then is involved and alters the situation tremendously if moral standards are relativized by what has been experienced, historically speaking and since 1948 in the Middle East? As such arguments tend to justify too much on the grounds what did not work in the past, but should not be forgotten in the present. This then increases the risk that Israel adopts a position of defiance, or else risks being accused of moral relativity. Things in communication with Israelis do not improve if the moment criticism of Israel is raised, that then is immediately labeled as anti-Israel, anti-Jewish. It makes any political argumentation appear useless or practically in vain.

On the other hand, it appears that promising to the Palestinian people a state of their own requires many more details to be known before being able to judge whether or not that is a solution. Right now it figures as a kind of conditional utopia provided the Israelis agree and it is even conceivable in practical terms to resolve problems of co-existence through two separate state entities.

As a kind of upgrading efforts of diplomacy and even propaganda, it appears that this promise disillusions more the relationships between Israelis and Palestinians. A peace council would be, therefore, a much more reliable alternative to any new state creation. Joint decisions based on real mediation successes are needed and this cannot be in the hands of the security and military people. The constraint of power to use violence must be applied consequentially with regards to both sides,

This is said because it appears any attempt at equalization combined with some normalization fails because both sides do not really accept the status quo. Subsequently they scramble to improve their position at any future negotiation table. A ‘council of peace’ would not provoke such an absurd scramble because its aim of cultural consensus presupposes quite another approach to reality.

Now that the ‘politics of violence’ is more clear than at the start in 1948, more can be said about not only when, but how the state of Israel was founded. Then no one could fully predict what this imposition of a new state meant to everyone in the region, but to ignore the fact that it was a violent imposition means to oversee consequences of such a founding of a state. The flaw lies in the beginning and has not been corrected to date. The open question of the Palestinian refugees forever being ignored, postponed or left unanswered has not been resolved to date.

That problem appears to be two-folded:

  1. Israel feels naturally threatened by the states that surround it, so that they wish to consolidate their status quo by having not only recognition from all Arabic states of the state of Israel, but they wish to safeguard resources and their own viability as a state. Here then the dynamics of modern society enter along with superiority in arms but also in what political history has left its marks upon the region.
  2. While Israel has the overcapacity to kill due to possessing besides an efficient and effective army also nuclear weapons to deter any aggression upon its territory, the Palestinian people had until ‘suicide’ became a real threat but stones to throw at tanks and the Intifada: a break-down of Israel’s economy depending upon Palestinian cheap labor.


The ‘council of peace’ must have, however, some real tasks and power to implement. The first would be a legal responsibility to monitor and to observe that zero tolerance is maintained in the region when it comes to ‘crime against humanity’. The second task deals with the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of economic sanctions. A more direct way of dealing with all the charges of money playing an enormous role until there is but corruption leading to but further ‘abuse of power’ would be to act like a preliminary Parliamentary control of finances of both sides, insofar as ‘morality of payment’ is linked to auditing to what purpose money is put to use. The prime aim is to avoid facts being established on the ground prior to both sides having had a chance to review and agree or disagree upon the project. The settlement policy can no longer be just a national project of Israel as if founding in the form of new settlements ‘representative units’ of the state of Israel throughout Palestinian territory would be a sane way of safeguarding the state of Israel.

First Task: Zero tolerance for ‘Crimes against humanity’

Although it will take some time to assess the full damage, international expertise exists so that it is possible to establish, if there were incurred ‘crimes against humanity’ not only during single actions, but if altogether a structural feature of the entire region leads systematically to ‘crimes against humanity’.

If the case, it needs immediate response by the World Court. The linkage between the ‘Peace Council’ and the World Court would make it into a unique form of establishing facts by presenting itself the case to the court in order to demonstrate how the Council has come to this assessment and what needs to be considered further by all world bodies.

Crucial in establishing this assessment by the ‘Council of Peace’ is how the measures are defined. It must be open to examine the possibility of identifying suicide-bombing missions as ‘crimes against humanity’ and what legal charges that would involve, if recognized as serious charge.

The legal philosophy must be worked out in conjunction with the different cultures and their notions of the ‘law of the land’.

As controversy about the composition of the Jenin UN. Inquiry team indicated, Israel wanted to stipulate that any fact-finding mission would have to include military and terrorist experts. That can be viewed as a way to raise doubt in possible charges, if not considering the need for precautionary measures taken by any military unit when conducting a house-to-house search for snipers and ‘terrorists’. Clearly such political influence upon the composition of the ‘inquiry team’ set up by the Peace Council must be avoided. That goes not merely for the Israeli side; if Abdullah raises doubts in Arafat because he no longer seems to control ‘public sentiment’, then it means public opinion so far has been influenced among other measures by a state, military and security police controlled media limiting any debate and especially preventing from questions snow-balling until those in power are no longer sure they can keep their privileges by justifying them with the arrogance of the masses.

Above all because this violence is linked politically and otherwise to a highly justified war continued to the problem of ‘terrorism’ being there apparently ‘forever’, there is need to limit the voices of military and security experts. They tend to perpetuate the threat without looking at non-military means of resolving that problem. Their own existence depends upon keeping that threat alive.

Rather the ‘Peace Council’ must be an expression of the civil society. It must come in an autonomous way to clarifying what charges are to be brought forth. The sensitivity of the situation requires above all to transform the charge into a perspective of resolving conflicts in peace. It will have to go hand-in-hand with a cultural replication of values of life. A lot will depend on how people themselves can come to monitor and evaluate their efforts with clearly defined and funded peace projects.

Of course, there will have to examined military and militant actions, in order to assess how power ascertains itself by letting young soldiers become an undisciplined horde and thereby corrupt their minds and souls from which they shall ever be able to withdraw, never mind recover. In a different way that applies to the recruitment forms of suicide bombers since that too shall affect not only the individual’s immediate surrounding, but also the entire society if it does not consider that to be a ‘crime against humanity’.

Certainly discussions at the end of March in Israel and throughout the world wanted to look at both types of terror: the suicide bombers but one kind, the other the use of the military to impose own rules of security without regard what this means to the lives of the others. In that discussion, and this included people who had survived Auschwitz and who now live in Israel, there was made the point that the rule of tanks in the streets is another kind of terror, namely ‘state terror’. If that leads to ‘crimes against humanity’, even if merely killing off the creative imagination of people aspiring to improve their own economic situation by working together under very different conditions, that needs to be established.

As a reminder the use of tanks by Israeli is not that different to when tanks stood vis a vis workers in East Berlin 1953, in Prague 1968 or in the case of Solidarnosz in Poland in 1981. That was pointed out already, but when it comes to taking political responsibility for such ‘state terror’, the answers differ very much in time, place and history.

In all three cases mentioned above the responsible people for state terror faced consequences in time:


The three examples show that ‘crime against humanity’ involves more than killing or mutilating people in physical terms. It has to do with dignity of man and the sense of freedom only visible when the language spoken allows for a dialog with the imagination. As Jean Paul Sartre said the worst situation is when there is no perception into the future.

The same cannot be said about Pinochet in Chile although challenged at international level, while Milosovic has to stand trial at the International Court in Den Hague.

All this would give rise to some hope with regards to legal accountability of political leaders when in power and once charges of abuse of power are founded. Yet the international world is not that mature as of yet to safeguard such an institution like the ‘Council of Peace’ being proposed here. There are too many obstacles due to self-interests blocking real solutions while gaining the status of ‘authentic voice’ has to be earned first – something very difficult in the Middle East.

However, prior to the incursion by the Israeli army at the end of March 2002, it is interesting to note that the International Court in Den Hague came out with a decision that favored Sharon. For the court passed a ruling stating that any person active in office may not be put on trial, for that would prevent that person from doing the job – an interesting twist in legal reasoning against efforts to stop someone in office making possible barbaric acts against human beings. Certainly the ruling on Sharon meant not only a limitation for the Belgium court seeking to put him on trial, but in the eyes of many human rights activists it meant a definite setback in the fight against abuse of power. What would have happened if the other way around?

Briefly said, there are powerful interest groups that make sure certain people are not touched while doing their ‘job’. It makes apparent the moral relativity and also the futility of moral arguments. America does everything to prevent anything like an International Court capable of bringing if necessary American soldiers and officers to court. There is also preference given to military power rather than authencity.

Revealing about all those arguments and counter arguments leading always to a justification of Israel, or criticism thereof, is this dominance of ‘moral relativity’. While Germany revealed that Israel receives on a yearly basis military equipment up to 170 Million Euros, Israel and its allies started an outcry once a ship with weapons on board en route to the Palestinians was discovered. The terms are such that while the one side may arm itself to the teeth, the other should be kept weak in all dimensions: militarily, but above all morally.

In other words, while it is normal business to equip and arm Israeli’s army to defend itself, the same right is not given to the Palestinian Authority. Again it matters here to understand the nature of the arguments, and what difference it would make if Palestine was a normal state.

Of interest is that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a challenging to Sharon’s power from the Right, put it plainly when ask by CNN May 31, 2002 what he thinks about the Palestinians obtaining the status of a state: he is against it because that would allow them to sign military pacts even with states like Iraq and Iran whom in his opinion President Bush has rightly so included in this ‘axis of evil’, and furthermore a state of Palestine would have the right to import weapons. Alone his words make clear that the Israeli Right would never want the Palestinians to achieve the status of having a fully recognized state.

So the sequence of events changes drastically when weapons supply and the kind of justification system that goes with it are put into broader perspective. Taking then sides in the issue is whether Bernhard Shaw’s quip about weapon producers or Bertrand Russell’s moral criticism of nuclear power takes on meaning in a world having gone way beyond the constant risks of war, for it is at war on a permanent basis. The argument of the Right does not serve anything further but fuel such blind war. For want of any better answer the simple slogan becomes one of the need to get tougher on the other side.

Financial aid to the region

Clearly where positions need to be revised and more so monitored and evaluated, is when it comes to examining the kinds of financial aids given to the region.

Due to charges of corruption and of using especially EU funds for financing terrorism, the kind of financial assistances given to the Palestinian Authority has become a subject of international debate. The EU Commissioner Schreyer had to respond as Chris Patten and others dismissed this charge. Yet anyone knowing how EU funds are administrated, namely with a high degree of autonomy and self-responsibility, the ‘Peace Council’ would have to establish monitoring and evaluation units that could ensure that the project money granted is really used to fulfill the objectives.

In other words, both sides should be more accountable in terms of expenditures not used to provoke further war or give reasons (excuses) thereof to continue war efforts e.g. building more settlements or training militants.

For the ‘Peace Council’ it will be important to examine the impact of financial aid to the region, including the financial situation created by direct and indirect aid given especially to Israel.

As Walid Khalidy points out since 1967 the financial aid by America to Israel has increased sharply. While prior to 1967 the yearly average of aid was 64 Million dollars, after 1967 it reached an average of 88 Million dollars. (Walid Khalidy, “The future of the Holy City”, Lettre International, Heft 51, IV, 2000, p. 27)

This state aid does not contain donations from private American-Jewish sources, all of which are exempted from taxes. It does not consider also the revenues from selling Jewish ‘value papers’ in the United States. Walid Khalidy points out that if one adds all these together, then the amount of aid given to Israel on a yearly basis amounts to nearly 150 Million dollars.

There is an additional matter to be taken into consideration. Right now Israel receives financial aid from the United States as a lump sum and then can decide by itself what is done with this money. That means the money is freely disposable and there is no way of knowing how Israel uses this American aid.

Further discussions about this matter reflect here the exemption to the rule. No other financial aid is given by the United States under such conditions. All other money is given as part of a project orientation.

To this can be added, internationally speaking, that financial aid should be given under clear conditions. They should not be used to entice war and include Palestinians and other citizens of the Middle East. The aim would be to avoid single promotion at the expense of any other group living in the region.

Also the amount given is so vast that it eludes all normal relationships between state funded matters and activities of another state. This means a review should be initiated and be addressed to the Foreign Relations Committee of the European Parliament. This advice is based on the conclusion that the artificial financial existence of Israel is a source of further conflict not only in the region, but in the world.


Sources of information about external relations of the European Parliament see


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