Angela Merkel is the answer to two questions: 1. Will Israel, “having no alternative,” attack the Gaza Strip before Friday, that being “the only possible response” to the multiplying demonstrations at the border fence? And 2. Now that the Monday-evening deadline given to the residents of the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar to dismantle their simple structures has passed, will Israel’s Civil Administration raze the entire community Tuesday?
It probably won’t happen this week, so as not to embarrass Merkel. The German chancellor and her cabinet are scheduled to arrive Wednesday for meetings with their Israeli colleagues, the seventh such intergovernmental consultations since the tradition began in 2008. In between, the German delegation will visit an exhibition on technological innovation sponsored by the Foreign Ministry, at which six Israeli companies will present their wares.
Officially, Germany — like all European Union member states — opposes the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and the forced eviction of its residents, actions that violate international law and Israel’s obligations as an occupying power. Officially, Germany is concerned by the military escalation and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza. Therefore, like all European states, it hopes for a nonviolent resolution of the military tension.
But the consulting cabinet ministers aren’t supposed to delve into the bottomless expectation gap between the parties on the future of the Palestinian territories that were captured in 1967. The Germans are still talking about a two-state solution, even as Israel is realizing the eight-state vision (of defeated, disconnected Palestinian enclaves scattered throughout the expanse of Jewish sovereignty).
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In any event, the joint consultations address the real issues of mature countries. The parties will discuss their excellent technological, military and intelligence ties, their common place in the advanced industrial world, their cultural and scientific ties — not to mention, of course, the Holocaust and Germany’s eternal obligations to Israel.
We can infer, from the slogans inserted in the joint statement after the 2016 consultations, that some German minister will blurt out something about human rights, and the response will be that Israel is the only democracy in the region. An open expression of Israeli military and bureaucratic superiority during the visit wouldn’t go over well with the foreign guests.
And so, the bulldozers and the deadly armed drones, the pride of Israeli technology, along with our female combat soldiers who operate them remotely, the pride of Israeli feminism, will be forced to wait patiently. Not this week.
On the other hand, why should they wait patiently? Why shouldn’t it happen this week? The German ministers already ignore that an important part of Israeli technological, military and intelligence development is linked to maintaining the occupation and keeping the permanent conflict on a low flame that occasionally flares up. They must ignore this, mentally and emotionally, to continue cultivating partnerships with Israel. They can also ignore Israel’s use of its military capabilities during their visit.
Each day that has passed since May 1999 (when the final-status agreement with the Palestinians was to go into effect), Israel has crossed another red line in shaping its unique regime of separation (apartheid, in Afrikaans). None of these crossings or violations of international resolutions led European countries to put genuine political pressure on Israel.
Each day that has passed since May 1999, Europe in general and Germany in particular have crossed another red line in the normalization of Israeli apartheid. They make a complete separation between their partner in technological, scientific and intellectual progress and the Israel that plans to erase in the near future the small village and other communities, and that for 10 years has imprisoned 2 million people in the biggest concentration facility in the world.
And the umbrella of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust is used to excuse and explain this intolerable ability to repress and compartmentalize.