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WARNING : Don't you judge by reading one article. This site is not for you if you cannot see the otherness of others and sufferings of both sides of the party in the conflict. Security for Israel and Justice for the Palestinians are interdependent, one will not happen without the other. My view focuses on building cohesive societies where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. I hope and pray a sense of justice to prevail. Amen. Website www.IsraelPalestineDialogue.com | Also Check Israel Palestine Confederation a pragmatic solution

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

TWO STATES FOR TWO PEOPLE

Due to my committments and the great write ups of Professor Alon Ben-Meir, Uri Anvery, Rabbi Lerner and otherJewish intellectuals who are committed to security for Israel throught just means, I will cut down my own writing. The law of karma works, whereas the Israeli government men, like most politicians do things to make Israel insecure. I hope for a change the Israeli people do their uprising to build a just society.
August 16, 2011

It appears that my latest weekly column in the Jerusalem Post entitled ‘The Inevitability of Coexistence' has caused some confusion or controversy about my stance regarding the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I want to make it abundantly clear that I have not, I am not now, and will never support a one-state solution.

That said, Israeli-Palestinian coexistence is inevitable because both peoples are literally stuck between the Mediterranean and Jordan River. Neither can dislodge the other, short of a catastrophe of unimaginable magnitude.

There are extremist right-wing and ultra-Orthodox Israelis and extremist Palestinian groups like Hamas who seek to realize a greater Israel and greater Palestine respectively. They will continue to resort to any measures, including incessant violence, to realize their hopeless dreams. They have thus far failed and their eventual complete failure will be dictated by the reality on the grounds of coexistence.

The Palestinians will never defeat Israel militarily and Israel will never succeed in sustaining the occupation and subjugate the Palestinian people.

Israel was created as the last refuge for the Jewish people. It must remain free, independent and democratic. Israel can, indeed it must, maintain the Jewish national identity of the state through a sustainable Jewish majority. The only way this vision can be realized is the creation of a two-state solution, a Jewish state and a Palestinian state.

To ensure the sustainability of the Jewish majority, the Israeli government must create the socio-economic and the political conditions that will make Israel the haven for all Jews. The failed Netanyahu/Lieberman policies have created the precise opposite conditions forcing many Israelis to run away from Israel rather than staying and flourishing in their homeland. By last credible estimates, more than one million Israelis have emigrated to different countries seeking better opportunities. The growing socio-economic gap between rich and poor and the lack of any prospect for peace with the Palestinians will force a still growing number of Israelis to emigrate from the once called the last refuge for the Jewish people.

It is not for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as Netanyahu demands, it is for the Israelis themselves and their government to ensure the continuing Jewish identity of the state through a sustainable Jewish majority without racism and discrimination.

Israel's territory must be based on the 1967 borders with some land swaps of roughly five percent to allow for the incorporation of all Israeli settlements (three blocks of settlements) along the 1967 borders into Israel proper.

The territory of the Palestinian state must encompass the Gaza strip, 95 percent or so of the West Bank, plus five percent of current Israeli territory to swap for five percent of the West Bank that will be incorporated into Israel proper.

Israel's national security under any peace agreement with the Palestinians will be maintained through six comprehensive security and political measures:

1) Maintaining credible deterrence that will inhibit any Palestinian group or states in the region from posing a serious threat to Israel;

2) Insisting on a demilitarized Palestinian state with the exception of maintaining internal Palestinian security forces that cooperate fully with their Israeli counterparts;

3) Stationing of a robust international peace-keeping force along the Jordan River under American command to prevent the penetration of terrorists and the smuggling of weapons;

4) Establishing a regional security pact among all the states in the area with vested interest in maintaining peace with Israel;
5) Encouraging people-to-people cultural, trade and tourism to foster neighborly relations between the two sides;

6) And finally, changing the political narratives about each other to disabuse a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians of the notion that one harbors the eventual destruction, displacement, or domination of the other.

As the security situation gradually stabilizes and the extremists on both sides accept the inescapable reality of coexistence, Israel can eventually remove all security barriers to allow for unimpeded movement of goods and people in both directions across the borders.

Under any peace agreement, there will be some Israelis who will continue to live in the Palestinian state and Palestinians (other than the Israeli Palestinians) who will continue to live in Israel. Those Israelis and Palestinians who will live in each others' state will be given the status of permanent resident who can vote or be elected only in their respective countries. This will not only solve the problem of some settlers who by agreement with the Palestinians choose to stay in the West Bank under the Palestinians Authority, but will also sustain the national identity of both Israel as a Jewish state and Palestine for the Palestinian Arabs.

The Israelis must now rise not only against the vast socio-economic gap between the rich and poor, but against the defunct Netanyahu/Lieberman policies toward the Palestinians that, if not changed, will bring Israel to the brink of socio-economic and political disaster.


For further media inquiries, contact Alexandra Stein at 212.600.4267 or at alexandra@alonben-meir.com. Please feel free to share this article with your contacts.

Golda Meir on Accountability

This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy."

--Le Monde, 1971-10-15

1898 – 1978
Golda Meir
Fourth prime minister of Israel, elected on
17 March 1969, after serving as Minister of
Labour and Foreign Minister. Known as the
"Iron Lady" of Israeli politics, David Ben-Gurion
called her "the best man in the government".

Apartheid on Steroids

Apartheid on Steroids
August 14, 2011

I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts where my parents headed our local synagogue, Hadassah and the United Jewish Appeal. My first trip abroad after university, in 1962, included a week-long visit to Israel, where I was awed by its accomplishments, as well as by its vulnerability. After the Six-Day War in 1967, I basked in the courage and military prowess of my fellow Jews. The eloquence of foreign minister Abba Eban, defending his beleaguered country at the United Nations, still fills me with pride. In the years since, I’ve been a contributor and fundraiser for the UJA-Federation of New York, a governor of the American Jewish Committee, which is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, and a founding director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. I’ve made five additional visits to Israel since 1962, the last this summer as part of a humanitarian aid trip to East Jerusalem and the West Bank. As a Jew who has been an ardent supporter of Israel since its independence, it pains me to record what I saw there. But it is my love for Israel and for the Jewish people that drives me to speak out at this treacherous time.


What I witnessed in the West Bank—home to about 2.5 million Palestinians and 400,000 Israeli settlers—exceeded my worst expectations. While the world’s statesmen have dithered, Israel has created a system of apartheid on steroids, a horrifying prison with concrete walls as high as twenty-six feet, topped with body-ravaging coils of razor wire. Spaced along these walls are imposing guard towers that harbor bunkers from which trespassers can be shot by Israeli soldiers. From this physical segregation—one land for Israelis; another, unequal land for Palestinians—flows a torrent of misery, violence and human rights abuses. The West Bank suffers from acute shortages of water, housing, jobs and healthcare. Palestinian children are separated from their parents, denied access to hospitals and stoned and beaten by Jewish settlers. Human rights sanctioned by international law, including the right to health, the prohibition on transferring populations into occupied territories and equal treatment before the law are routinely violated.


David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, once said that Israel will be judged by how it treats the Arabs. This is a moral test Israel now resoundingly fails—a failure that threatens to undermine all of its accomplishments and, as is increasingly clear, its future.

* * *

The wall that Israel is building does not follow the post-1967border. It makes major incursions into the West Bank, the largest about fourteen kilometers deep. Circuitous, twice times as long as the actual border, the wall snakes through the West Bank to envelop Jewish settlements and military bases, dividing Arab towns and families from each other. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) counts 505 checkpoints, roadblocks and other obstacles in the West Bank that prevent and impede movement.

This hulking, omnipresent physical constraint makes life for the Arab population a hellish nightmare. Travel outside many villages is allowed only with a permit from the Israeli army (IDF). Receiving a permit often takes months; sometimes permits don’t arrive at all (the IDF does not give explanations); when they do, they expire quickly. For security reasons, permits are usually denied men aged 15-30. Families are separated for years by these restrictions. A married couple—one partner from East Jerusalem, the other from Ramallah—may not be able to live together, and acquiring permits for visitation is an onerous process. Children—who account for almost half of the West Bank’s Palestinian population—are often separated from parents, indefinitely so.

Since many Palestinians are not allowed to travel to the nearest hospital without a permit, they are frequently cut off from medical treatment. Stories abound of people dying in ambulances, waiting to cross an Israeli checkpoint. Women in labor sometimes walk miles to a checkpoint, attempting to reach a hospital on the other side—it’s evidently quicker to cross on foot than in a vehicle. Worse yet, many of these mothers receive no pre- or postnatal care. Travel permits can expire before scheduled medical treatments are finished, and parents are often denied permission to accompany their young children to medical treatment centers.

Almost half of all specialty care patients in the West Bank are now referred to six East Jerusalem hospitals, which have become very difficult to reach. Even with a permit, many patients needing emergency care, including sick children, wait over two hours at checkpoints. Except for doctors, hospital staff must use one of three designated checkpoints and cross on foot, before taking public transportation to their hospital. These restrictions, which apply to medical students as well, cause chronic lateness, immense difficulty in recruiting staff and lower quality healthcare. As a result, in 2004, the International Court of Justice concluded that Israel’s permitting regime violates the right to health of the Palestinian population.

The occupation also makes agriculture an ordeal. Areas between the wall and the 1967 border (the green line) are designated seam areas; Arabs need special permits even to farm their land in these designated spaces. Permits have been declining, and the number of gates into the seam zones has been sharply reduced, placing farmers even further from their land. In response, many farmers have just given up on applying for permits at all.

Izbat Salman, a small Arab village in the Qalqiliya region, has much of its agricultural land behind the barrier wall in the seam zone. A 2003 UNDP report documenting the impact of the security wall there found that 70 percent of permit applications for visitors had been denied and that farmers must travel 14 kilometers to the nearest agricultural gate, which closes at 4 pm and on Israeli holidays. Farmers used to tend their fields after normal work hours, but that became impossible, and they experienced difficulty importing routine farm tools and equipment. According to the 2003 report, lemon and orange tree yields dropped by two-thirds since the barrier was erected. If security were the only issue, the wall would essentially track the current border. But the fact that the wall’s path places so much of the means of life—food production and access to medicine—outside the reach of Arabs suggests that it has been drawn to eviscerate the West Bank’s Arab society.

* * *

On the other side of the wall are the settlements, a misnomer really. In fact, many of them are small towns with modern housing, shopping centers and other amenities. Formally endorsed by Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1977, settlements took off vigorously. Zoning restrictions were relaxed so that Israelis could build detached houses on large parcels of land, at low cost, while retaining their places of employment in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Restricted roads were built so that Israelis could avoid trips through Arab villages. Expansion continued even under the pro-peace governments of Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak. Ariel Sharon’s administration went further, allowing illegal outposts not authorized by the government. Most importantly, in all these years, the rational for settlements was the creation of a de facto situation on the ground making reunification of Judea and Samaria beyond difficult. Security became a justification after the second intifada, with its horrific violence and suicide bombings. This was clearly a factor, but the barrier also constituted an increased land grab by the Israelis. Today, although they constitute almost 100 percent of the non-settler population, Arabs have rights on only 35 percent of the land on the West Bank.

The West Bank settler population has grown each year from 140,000 in 1996 to about 400,000 today. By vastly building up the settlements, Israel ostensibly improved its position in any peace negotiation. Ironically, the settlements may now make any peace impossible because the settlers have amassed great political power. Netanyahu actually won fewer seats in the Knesset in the 2009 election than Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party. Only by forging a coalition of right-wing parties that included settlers and their supporters could Netanyahu form a government. For this victory, he has paid a price: any move that upsets the settlers could easily bring down Likud’s fragile majority. Thus, Netanyahu may be powerless to control the deluge in the West Bank, or to propose any viable plan for peace.

East Jerusalem, the presumed capitol of Palestine, has also been devastated by the barrier wall and Israeli settlements. In 2002, following tragic suicide bombings, the Israeli government approved construction of a wall to prevent suicide bombers from the West Bank from entering Israel—quite a reasonable objective. But why does the portion running through Jerusalem measure 142 kilometers, with only four kilometers running along the green line? Besides added security, the wall has redrawn the boundaries of the city. Over one third of East Jerusalem has been expropriated for construction of settlements, despite the illegality of transferring civilians to the occupied territory. Just 13 percent of East Jerusalem land is zoned for Palestinian construction, and permits are virtually unobtainable. Green areas and unplanned areas comprise another 50 percent of the land. De facto, the Palestinians have been expelled from East Jerusalem. Most were never citizens but permanent residents whose status was revocable and not transferable to spouses and children.

Hebron is the West Bank in miniature, and it is well worth examining. We toured Hebron with the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), a civilian observer mission called for by both the Israelis and Palestinians. It monitors breaches of agreements and human rights, but its reports are confidential. The TIPH staff told us that they rarely get any reply to their reports, rendering the mission somewhat irrelevant. They do, however, have an acute sense of what is happening in Hebron.

Walking through Hebron, the largest town in the West Bank, we witnessed grievous and malicious violations of human rights. The main settlement sits above the old Arab market. Settlers throw huge rocks and garbage down on the market causing serious injury and disruption. In defense, the Arabs have erected a large net above their market to protect them. Now, the settlers throw Molotov cocktails that burn through the rope nets. We spoke with an Arab father whose 12-year-old son was recently blinded by a container of acid tossed from above. Children are stoned and beaten going to school, and Arab fields are torched when the settlers are angry, often at some policy of the Israeli government. If the government disappoints the settlers, the Palestinians pay the price. Many Palestinian shops have been shuttered by Israeli security, and 1,800 families have lost their income as a result. For the benefit of 800 Jews living in Hebron, life for 170,000 Palestinians living in the city center has come to a standstill. Most sickening of all, in a settlement called Kiryat Arba, the Jews have built a monument to Dr. Baruch Goldstein. In 1994, Goldstein stormed the Ibrahimi Mosque, killing twenty-nine praying Muslims. Small wonder that the TIPH believes that if the IDF were to exit Hebron, without question, the Jews would be massacred.

We asked the TIPH what the IDF does to stop crimes against the Arabs. They responded that the army views their mission as only protecting the settlers. Any action to contain these felons would be blocked by the government’s right wing. As we were hearing this appraisal, we saw about twenty IDF soldiers hassling a young Arab kid for walking on a street reserved only for Jews. For that he could be arrested, but blinding an Arab boy is not investigated.

How can Jews, who have been persecuted for centuries, tolerate this inhumanity? Where is their moral compass? How can this situation be acceptable to Judaism’s spiritual and political leaders? I don’t have that answer; except to say that Israel’s biggest enemy has become itself.

* * *

The Arab Spring should make it abundantly clear that the Jewish state is on the wrong side of history. When, exactly, the tipping point will come is not predictable. But when that point arrives, it will bring tremendous risks for Israel, and for almost half the Jews in the world who reside there. That Israel has the upper hand now portends nothing about the future. A small state of 7 million holding 4 million neighbors in prison, without opportunity, sufficient medical care, food, water and equal justice is not a sustainable situation. When, eventually, stasis gives way to unimaginable change, it will be too late to alter course. Israel, “right or wrong,” a position taken by many, will lead to a catastrophe. It represents a suspension of critical thought; characteristic of many radical ideologies. Friends of Israel would serve it better to know the true facts and then drive Israel toward a moral and practical solution.

What’s fair? There was a Kingdom of Israel near the time of Christ’s birth. Attacks by Romans, Syrians and others drove the Jews into a 2,000 year diasporic migration. During that long interval they were consistently persecuted, culminating in the Holocaust. Six million European Jews were exterminated in history’s worst genocide. Arab farmers eventually began living in the area that had been the Kingdom of Israel and have done so for hundreds of years. In the nineteenth century, Jews began to return as Zionist fervor and anti-Semitic persecution ignited immigration, later helped mightily by the Balfour declaration. The two groups fought constantly, for land, power and their perceived patrimony. Ending the British mandate over Palestine, the United Nations partitioned the land in 1947. Not acceding to the partition, the Arabs went to war. In the armistice, the Arabs were the losers, but they tried again in 1967 and 1973, losing even more territory.

Many Israelis and their leaders harbored the illusion that one day they could control all the land, certainly after their awesome victory in 1967. Pampered by the West, notably the United States, these unrealistic hopes were nourished. No doubt many Palestinians were equally unrealistic about what they could achieve. A big problem here is that there’s not much to divide. Like in a divorce where the marital estate is rather small, both spouses will likely be disappointed with their share. In this case, each side could blame their ancestors for not settling in a bigger and richer land.

With respect to fairness, the Israelis have done very well. Before the 1947 partition, the Jewish community owned only 6 percent of the land and comprised 35 percent of the population. The UN partition awarded them 55 percent of the land. The Palestinians, who had owned 94 percent of the land, were awarded 45 percent in the partition; Jerusalem was to be put under international supervision. After the 1948 war, however, the armistice line allocated Israel 78 percent of the land. Now many in the international community are advocating a return to those borders (with some land swaps) as a pillar of a peace agreement. Israel should be rejoicing under these terms, since they would receive 78 percent of the land available in 1947. An investment banker much of my adult life, I’d take this deal in a heartbeat.

Personally, I don’t believe the Netanyahu government is able to make peace and survive; the dependence on the radical right wing is too great. The issues in resettling about 150,000 settlers are intractable for the hard-line rightists. Some of Israel’s reservations seem hollow. Netanyahu said a divided Palestine government was an impossible partner in peace. Recently, when a unity government was proposed, he said he wouldn’t deal with Hamas.

The Hamas positions, in fact, resemble the PLO stance prior to the Oslo Accords. The Fatah/Hamas equation is difficult to gauge, but you can’t resolve the matter without talking and without preconditions. Like the PLO, Hamas appears violent and incorrigible. But Israel should remember the expression: “You don’t make peace with your friends.”

I believe the UN should recognize both a Palestinian state and a Jewish state, based largely on the pre-1967 borders. President Obama should lead this effort. This will legitimize both states, and put pressure on them to make peace. Economic levers should be applied, with both rewards and punishments. Settlements must be halted for talks to succeed, and steps should be taken to improve life in the occupied territories. Israel must regain the moral imperative, to disarm its enemies and secure its friends. Many believe there is an international campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state. At this point Israel is delegitimizing itself.

Stephen Robert, along with his wife Pilar Crespi Robert, is the founder of The Source of Hope Foundation. Its philanthropic mission is to aid desperate populations, particularly in providing food, water, health care, education and micro-finance opportunities. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was Chancellor of Brown University from 1998-2007. In 1979, Robert became President of Oppenheimer & Co. and in 1983, assumed the role of Chairman and CEO. In March of 1986, he became the principal owner and resigned in 1997 after selling it to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. He is also on the Investment Committee of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

This essay can be found on the Web at: http://www.thenation.com/article/162756/apartheid-steroids

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A New Wave of Anti-Semitism Sweeping Europe

By Uri Avnery
Aug. 1, 2011
Countries that always seemed to be models of political sanity suddenly produce fascist rabble-rousers.

The atrocity committed this week by the Norwegian neo-Nazi — is it an isolated incident? Right-wing extremists all over Europe and the US are already declaiming in unison: “He does not belong to us! He is just a lone individual with a deranged mind! There are crazy people everywhere! You cannot condemn a whole political camp for the deeds of one single person!”
Sounds familiar. Where did we hear this before?
Of course, after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
There is no connection between the Oslo mass-murder and the assassination in Tel Aviv. Or is there?
During the months leading up to Rabin’s murder, a growing hate campaign was orchestrated against him. Almost all the Israeli right-wing groups were competing among themselves to see who could demonize him most effectively.
In one demonstration, a photo-montage of Rabin in the uniform of an SS officer was paraded around. On the balcony overlooking this demonstration, Benjamin Netanyahu could be seen applauding wildly, while a coffin marked “Rabin” was paraded below. Religious groups staged a medieval, kabbalistic ceremony, in which Rabin was condemned to death. Senior rabbis took part in the campaign. No right-wing or religious voices were raised in warning.
The actual murder was indeed carried out by a single individual, Yigal Amir, a former settler, the student of a religious university. It is generally assumed that before the deed he consulted with at least one senior rabbi. Like Anders Behring Breivik, the Oslo murderer, he planned his deed carefully, over a long time, and executed it cold-bloodedly. He had no accomplices.
Or had he? Were not all the inciters his accomplices? Does not the responsibility rest with all the shameless demagogues, like Netanyahu, who hoped to ride to power on the wave of hatred, fear and prejudice?
As it turned out, their calculations were confirmed. Less than a year after the assassination, Netanyahu came to power. Now the right-wing is ruling Israel, becoming more radical from year to year, and, lately, it seems, from week to week. Outright Fascists now play leading roles in the Knesset.
All this the result of three shots by a single fanatic, for whom the words of the cynical demagogues were deadly serious.
The latest proposal of our fascists, straight from the mouth of Avigdor Lieberman, is to abrogate Rabin’s crowning achievement: The Oslo agreements. So we come back to Oslo.
When I first heard the news about the Oslo outrage, I was afraid that the perpetrators might be some crazy Muslims. The repercussions would have been terrible. Fortunately, the actual mass-murderer surrendered at the scene of the crime. He is the prototype of a Nazi anti-Semite of the new wave. His creed consists of white supremacy, Christian fundamentalism, hatred of democracy and European chauvinism, mixed with a virulent hatred of Muslims.
This creed is now sprouting offshoots all over Europe. Small radical groups of the ultra-right are turning into dynamic political parties, take their seats in parliaments and even become kingmakers here and there. Countries that always seemed to be models of political sanity suddenly produce fascist rabble-rousers of the most disgusting kind, even worse than the US Tea Party, another offspring of this new Zeitgeist. Lieberman is our contribution to this illustrious worldwide league.
One thing almost all these European and American ultra-rightist groups have in common is their admiration for Israel. In his 1,500 page political manifesto, on which he had been working for a long time, the Oslo murderer devoted an entire section to this. He proposed an alliance of the European extreme right and Israel. For him, Israel is an outpost of Western civilization in the mortal struggle with Islam. (Somewhat reminiscent of Theodor Herzl's promise that the future Jewish state would be an “outpost of Western culture against Asiatic barbarism”?) Part of the professed philo-Zionism of these Islamophobic groups is, of course, pure make-believe, designed to disguise their neo-Nazi character. If you love Jews, or the Jewish state, you can't be a Fascist, right? You bet you can! However, I believe that the major part of this adoration of Israel is entirely sincere.
Right-wing Israelis, who are courted by these groups, argue that it is not their fault that all these hate-mongers are attracted to them. On the face of it, that is of course true. Yet one cannot but ask oneself: Why are they so attracted? Wherein lies this attraction? Does this not warrant some serious soul-searching?
I first became aware of the gravity of the situation when a friend drew my attention to some German anti-Islamic blogs. I was shocked to the core. These outpourings are almost verbatim copies of the diatribes of Joseph Goebbels. The same rabble-rousing slogans. The same base allegations. The same demonization. With one little difference: Instead of Jews, this time it is Arabs who are undermining Western civilization, seducing Christian maids, plotting to dominate the world.
A day after the Oslo events I happened to be watching Aljazeera's English TV network and saw an interesting program. For a whole hour, the reporter interviewed Italian people in the street about Muslims. The answers were shocking.
Mosques should be forbidden. They are places where Muslims plot to commit crimes. Muslims come to Italy to destroy Italian culture. They are parasites, spreading drugs, crime and disease. They must be kicked out, to the last man, woman and child.
I always considered Italians easygoing, lovable people. Even during the Holocaust, they behaved better than most other European peoples. Benito Mussolini became a rabid anti-Semite only during the last stages, when he had become totally dependent on Hitler.
Yet here we are. Barely 66 years after Italian partisans hanged Mussolini's body by his feet in a public place in Milan, a much worse form of anti-Semitism is rampant in the streets of Italy, as in most other European countries.
Europe is in a quandary. They need the “foreigners” — Muslims and all — to work for them, keep their economy going, pay for the pensions of the old people. If all Muslims were to leave Europe tomorrow morning, the fabric of society in Germany, France, Italy and many other countries would break down. Yet many Europeans are dismayed when they see these “foreigners,” with their strange languages, mannerisms and clothes crowding their streets, changing the character of many neighbourhoods, opening shops, marrying their daughters, competing with them in many ways. It hurts. As a German minister once said: “We brought here workers, and found out that we had brought human beings!”
One can understand these Europeans, up to a point. Immigration causes real problems. The migration from the poor South to the rich North is a phenomenon of the 21st century, a result of the crying inequality among nations. It needs an all-European immigration policy, a dialogue with the minorities about integration or multiculturalism. It won't be easy.
But this tidal wave of Islamophobia goes far beyond that. Like a tsunami, it can result in devastation. Many of the Islamophobic parties and groups remind one of the atmosphere of Germany in the early 1920s, when “völkisch” groups and militias were spreading their hateful poison, and an army spy called Adolf Hitler was earning his first laurels as an anti-Semitic orator. They looked unimportant, marginal, and even crazy. Many laughed at this man Hitler, the Chaplinesque moustachioed clown. But the abortive Nazi putsch of 1923 was followed by 1933, when the Nazis took power, and 1939, when Hitler started World War II, and 1942, when the gas chambers were brought into operation.
It is the beginnings which are critical, when political opportunists realize that arousing fear and hatred is the easiest way to fortune and power, when social misfits become nationalist and religious fanatics, when attacking helpless minorities becomes acceptable as legitimate politics, when funny little men turn into monsters.
Source: Arab News