Israeli Historian Denounces Israeli Military Offensive
Interview with Reuven Moskovitz
[This Israeli historian, recipient of the 2003 Aachen peace prize and one of the founders of the "Neve Shalom" peace village, Reuven Moskovitz criticizes the Israeli military offensive in Lebanon. The following excerpts from a July 15 interview on German radio (Deutschlandfunke) are translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/index.php?id=917&type=98.]
Q: Israel speaks of defense. The Lebanese government sees itself as a victim of an aggression. For the people, it is a catastrophe. In northern Israel, Israelis seek protective bunkers out of fear of the rockets of Hezbollah from southern Lebanon. In Lebanon, most of the victims are civilians. Panic broke out in one hospital after an Israeli rocket landed nearby. Fear of a new war grows in the Middle East. How can this war be stopped or prevented?
On the telephone is Reuven Moskovitz, a member of the Israeli peace movement who was awarded the 2003 Aachen peace prize and is now in Germany. [... ] The Israeli government says: We are only defending the land. We have withdrawn from Gaza. We have withdrawn from southern Lebanon. As gratitude, we are pounded with the rockets of Hezbollah. What do you say to this argument?
Moskovitz: I must honestly say this is a colossal lie concerning Israeli policy. [... ] We are not defending [today]. [... ] We are waging an aggressive war that can only lead us to ruin. [... ] The dominant policy only knows the language of violence. Whoever tries solving problems with viole3nce only produces more violence. [... ]
I have letters from Hannah Arendt from 1955. At that time, she, Hannah Arendt, even speaks of the Germanization of Israeli policy. [... ] I am a moderate person; I am not a radical. I am peaceable. I try to solve problems with peace alone. But people think I am radical be3cause I dare to say the truth. 32 years ago I came to Germany to show there are similarities between German and Jewish history. My book is titled "Germans and Jews between Power of the Spirit and Powerlessness of Violence." In Germany, Goethe, Mozart, Lessing and all the great minds relied on the power of the spirit. Then people were tempted with power and ruined Germany.
Q: The German chancellor first backed Israel when US president George Bush visited Stralsund. Israel defends herself. The attack came from Hezbollah, from others. What do you expect from Germans?
Moskovitz: A world that tolerates what happens with us is broken and blinded. Israel's aggression or collective punishment is an absolutely excessive reaction. In Germany we have kidnapped sheiks and others who then sat in prisons from 16 years. We did this because we were always the victims. I am against kidnappings, war and violence. We must not whip up a horrific war in response to a minor thing. I have great respect for ms. Merkel. I shed a few tears for her because she lived behind the wall. I was glad when she was freed. But today she embraces the arsonist of Iraq, the man who set Iraq on fire. A few months ago, she was embraced by Ehud Olmert who now sets this fire. This is a targeted arson, not a moderate reaction to the kidnapping of one or two soldiers.
Q: In Israel and elsewhere, the argument is made, Mr. Moskovitz, that the Palestinians elected Hamas as their government after Israel withdrew again from Gaza and southern Lebanon. Are you disappointed with the Palestinian side?
Moskovitz: Yes, that is a long history that cannot be co0mpressed in a few minutes... Most Palestinians did not vote for Hamas. Hamas is also our enemy. Peace is only made with enemies. Whoever wants peace must be ready to speak with enemies. When one says "I don't speak with enemies," this means "We don't want peace." [... ]
We must be ready to speak with everyone open for coexistence between a Jewish state and a Palestinian state.
Q: You have tried to promote coexistence and reconciliation for a long time and founded a peace village, Neve Shalom, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the 1970s. Israelis and Palestinians lived together in the 1970s. How is life together functioning now?
Moskovitz: Life together is a reality. Even in strained situations, stones are not thrown at others. Jewish voters elected an Arab mayor for Neve Shalom and so on. [... ] This is a hopeful model. However such models in war situations are obviously only drops on a hot stone. The situation must be resolved politically. I must say, I grieve that the supposedly civilized and democratic world silently allows this to happen. This is not a war against terror but a war against a whole people. The most vulnerable people of history, the Jewish people, are endangered. An outcry is long overdue in Germany. But Germany hides behind its guilt feelings. This is disastrous. An overzealous friend can be more dangerous than an enemy. One can protect oneself from enemies. I don't know what to do with such friends.