Talking about this conflict generally leads to only receiving blows from both sides…. However, we will have to go further if we one day want these massacres to stop.
A personal word first. Born in Egypt from a well-established Jewish family, cultivated in a cosmopolitan atmosphere with the 3 monotheistic religions – Jewish, Catholic (college of the brothers of St Jean Baptiste de La Salle) and Muslim in an atmosphere of tolerance, and no sign of anti-Semitism. Bombed during the Sinai War in 1956, then returned from Egypt and my father’s assets confiscated followed by forced emigration to Israel and the death of my father who could not bear to leave. In Israel, I was raised with the firm belief that we had strength and right on our side. After a long military service and university studies, I had to participate in the 6-day war! I was led to migrate to France 50 years ago, French and Israeli by culture with a history closer to Israel than to Egypt.
The Israeli-Palestinian problem does not fit into the usual boxes of history, the surprises come from there or are not expected. I really liked Tito’s Sarajevo where communities lived in harmony with inter-ethnic marriages – Catholic/Muslim or Orthodox/Muslim. On trees we saw announcements of death with sickles and hammers, crescents and Orthodox crosses side by side. When the war started with Karadzic, Milosevic and other war criminals, I returned there to bring medicine to the Bosnian population (with the only possible air transport – French military planes). I found a destroyed city with all that implies and Serbs going crazy and shooting from the roofs and surrounding hills at passers-by and houses. The army suggested that I go to Dobrynya – a Muslim enclave surrounded by fanatical Serbs – everything there was destroyed, the teachers went through trenches to teach students in cellars. A single surgeon – Youssouf Hadjir – who amputates in a supermarket cellar, often without anesthetic. We start talking, first in English (my English was better than his) then in Arabic (his Arabic was better than mine). It turns out that he was born in Nesher – a village near Haifa – The Haganah (the Jewish army of 1948) killed his father and his family had to emigrate to Damascus where he later left to go to the Faculty of Medicine of Sarajevo. I took the opposite route, sent back from Cairo by Nasser and my father died in despair shortly after to find myself in Haifa! We took the same route but in opposite directions. He burst out laughing and said to me, you should ask for compensation from Egypt, I replied that he could start with Israel. This improbable story illustrates the complexity of the problem and the disappearance almost everywhere of multi-ethnic communities living in harmony; The times do not lend themselves well to peace.
Let’s look back at the current terrible episode with a little perspective.
i) Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism: Zionism “a people without a land for a land without a people” is a false thesis from the start. Certainly, Jews have the right to have land in Palestine, history attests to this incontestably, but not on all this land because before there also lived another people who are responsible neither for the Shoah nor for the pogroms. The great Yechahyahou Leibovitz – Grand Prix of Israel, religious, Talmudist philosopher but also professor of chemistry and other sciences said in 1967, “a people who occupy the land of another is condemned to lose democracy and future”. The actions of Netanyahu and Jewish messianic turbans (like the Hamas extremists) must be condemned. Should we accept everything from a people because they are Jewish? Do the rules of history and the great universal laws which define war crimes stop in Jerusalem? Is it acceptable to support a policy which consists of sending back as many Palestinians as possible in order to realize the old dream of Bégin and Jabotinsky – “a single Jewish country from the banks of the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea”. Excluding the reality of a Palestinian people also means excluding any possibility of long-term dialogue. So, yes, we have the right to criticize the policies of Israeli governments without being suspected of anti-Semitism.
ii) Colonization eliminated any possibility of two states – 15 years ago, I published in the newspaper Libération a peace plan – co-signed by Edgar Morin and Véronique Nahum- Grappe – based on Bosnia.
In order to separate Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks who had been caught up in the madness of Karadzic and Milosevic and following the Srebrenica massacre, after a brief military intervention, a governorate led by the United Nations was set up with the aim of stopping the fight and rebuild the country. This had in fact stopped the war, without really solving the problems but that’s something. The logic was to separate one from the other so that “they forget each other”. Applied to Israel, the idea was to build a separation wall on the border of the 6-day war – the green line – and help in the reconstruction of Palestine. Two years of complete separation should lead these two people to forget each other, a bit like a difficult divorce. Over time, there might have been the possibility of working together and building bridges between Jews and Arabs and a bridge between East and West. However, when this plan was written, there were 20-30,000 settlers in the West Bank, today there are over 700,000! Reality is no longer the same. The big declarations with the hand on the heart of policies from Biden to Macron ring false; the two-state solution of Oslo has become impossible, it is 30 years late. The fanatical and messianic Israeli settlers and successive Israeli governments returned it to the Greek calendars. The settlers occupy the best lands, take all the water and humiliate when they do not kill Palestinian peasants with the protection of the army. The 2-state solution is dead, this had already been explained to me 2 decades ago by Elias Sanbar (representing the PLO at the Madrid discussions) simply because “Israel will never cede the occupied lands and will not give up its dream to occupy all of Palestine. We are therefore moving, whatever the wishes of the governments of Israel, towards a binational state, these governments have done everything for it, which moreover Rabin had already pointed out to explain why a two-state solution is the only solution.
iii) Hamas – the acts of October 7 are recognized by international law as war crimes because they targeted a population because it was Jewish. They are indefensible and unjustifiable whatever the morality held. Adding or not the qualifier terrorist adds nothing to the matter, because it avoids the good underlying question: should we consider the context of colonization and the suffering of the inhabitants of Gaza living for decades in a large cage or not. Hamas has a deadly philosophy, that of the Muslim brothers but at the same time, rightly or wrongly, Hamas is supported by the citizens of GAZA and represents a component of the resistance to the Israeli colonizer and when it comes to discussing the peace, he will necessarily be represented. French resistance fighters against the Nazis, anti-Francoists or anti-Pinochet etc. have all been described as terrorists. Far be it from me to make a comparison and justify or even understand the indiscriminate killing of children, babies and old people because the situations are different. But we must remember again and again that there is no connection between Daesh, which wants to establish a global caliphate, and Hamas, which only acts in Israel. So, beyond emotion, we must look further and understand why Hamas is dangerous and why we must fight against it.
ii) The bombing of Gaza and its complete siege – is a war crime according to representatives of NGOs, international structures, Reporters Without Borders, Unicef etc. when the bombs stop the tens of thousands of deaths, of children and women and old men will be evident. Do we really believe we can destroy Hamas without destroying the densest city in the world? Besieging and starving a population of two million is a war crime. Bombing a 7-story building and killing the children, babies, and old people who live there is no less horrible than the Hamas massacres. How does this differ from Putin and his massacres in Ukraine? Accepting that no country can carry out this type of attack except Israel is for me both aberrant and racist. This would mean that Israel is the only state that can ignore the condemnations of the international community because it is the people of the Jews? and where will it end? If Israel is in danger tomorrow and launches an atomic bomb on a neighboring country, will you forgive it because it is a Jewish state? When President Herzog – a moderate compared to Netanyahu – decrees “that there are no civilians – citizens in Gaza” does this mean that everyone is Hamas and therefore killing babies becomes acceptable? Unfortunately for Israel, it is necessary to attack in the worst conditions given the population density in Gaza, but is there not a little responsibility on Israel for having refused any compromise since the death of Rabin. This war also announces many wars to come, because the kid who sees his parents humiliated and killed by Israeli forces will take over.
v) These plans will not allow Israel to live in peace. Israeli governments are pursuing a policy intended to send back as many Palestinians as possible and repeat an additional Nakba by forcing Gaza residents to migrate to Egypt (a secret plan concocted by the secret services validated by Haaretz journalists) https://www. instagram.com/p/CzCVLjNLZF5/?igshid=MTc4MmM1YmI2Ng== ). As a result, we understand better Israel’s insistence on advising citizens of Gaza to migrate to the south and then to Egypt as soon as possible. We will end up with another refugee camp and fixation abscess in Egypt after Lebanon and Jordan (since 1948) with the problems that ensue.
vi) And the Jews of France? Being in solidarity with Israeli policy, whatever its actions, is a serious error. In the same way that we would protest if France made a Gaza-type intervention in another country, I fail to see why we have to accept everything from Israel. This objectively makes us appear as totally subservient to Israel with the consequence of importing the problem here and worsening anti-Semitism. Far from me to believe that age-old anti-Semitism is only due to the problem of Palestine, it will exist even if this problem is resolved. Israel should act with the progressive Arab forces rather than getting along like thieves with all the tyrants in the world, including the most anti-Semitic, as long as they defend its policies and serve its interests – see the beautiful text by a Franco philosopher – Israeli https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2023/11/02/ivan-segre-l-avenir-d-israel-repose-sur-une-alliance-avec-les-forces-progressistes-arabes_6197821_3232 .html?lmd_medium=al&lmd_campaign=sent-by-appli&lmd_creation=android&lmd_source=default
In the same way, the Jewish population of France should understand that it is not healthy and contrary to history to get closer to the extreme right – the RN, Marechal, Zemmour and company. The text by Lebanese writer Dominique Eddé on the Israel-Hamas war is a summary that is difficult to dispute
https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2023/10/31/l-ecrivaine-libanaise-dominique-edde-sur-la-guerre-israel-hamas-le-recours-au-nous-contre- them-fatally-signs-the-beginning-of-obscurantism-and-blindness_6197490_3232.html?lmd_medium=al&lmd_campaign=envoye-par-appli&lmd_creation=android&lmd_source=default.one can also see the brief text of
Israel does not represent all of Jewry, the Jews of the diaspora have contributed a lot to the world in the arts, sciences and culture, the list would be very long to enumerate. Contrary to the assertions of right-wing politicians but also to usually rather serious journalists like Carolyn Fourest or Raphaël Einthoven, the members of LFI and those who criticize Israel are not terrorists, they take colonization into account, even if it would have required a little more discernment, as one of their number (Ruffin) points out. The unhealthy Islamophobia of some leads them to take a warlike attitude, endorsing everything Israel does to defend itself. This attitude is dangerous, it is not based on any serious reasoning and contributes nothing to a possible solution. We can understand that people who live in Israel have extremist and revanchist positions given their suffering, but we have the right to ask for a little more restraint and reflection, when we are thousands of km away. The distance gives a serenity which should also allow us to reflect on the future.
In summary, it is precisely because we love Israel, and are proud of some of its achievements, that we believe that by pursuing an aggressive policy of colonization and terror, the country is heading towards its downfall. Israel will only be able to exist indefinitely by the strength of its army, we must re-read the Bible “it is not by force but by my Spirit that you will overcome, says the Lord of hosts (Zechariah 4:6)”! At this rate; There will inevitably be a struggle between two messianisms from another age – the Muslim and the Jew. This will result in incessant wars. Israel will only owe its existence to its armed force with, in the long term, an Iranian-style theocracy and above all a danger that the force will change sides. The war policy leads nowhere in the long term, we will have to discuss between the enemies as in any war.