[sixties-l] German radicals defend Israeli state brutality in the West Bank

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 12/09/00

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    German radicals defend Israeli state brutality in the West Bank-Part 1
    By Stefan Steinberg
    9 December 2000
    This is the first of a two-part article. The second part will be posted on 
    Monday, December 11.
    The WSWS has recently written on the German left radical magazine konkret 
    (concrete), which in its October edition wrote on the issue of the sinking 
    of the Kursk submarine and openly took the side of President Vladimir Putin 
    and the Russian state ["The nationalistic reflex: left-wing newspapers in 
    Germany exhibit unrestrained enthusiasm for Putin"].
    Konkret began as an organ of the West German Communist Party and gained 
    notoriety in post-war Germany when one of its editors, Ulrike Meinhof, 
    ditched Stalinist politics in favour of the terrorist activities of the Red 
    Army faction. Since 1974 the glossy monthly magazine, which has developed 
    into a vehicle for many ex-Stalinist radicals, has been headed by Hermann 
    L. Gremliza. In the October edition konkret contributor Ralf Schrder wrote 
    an article in which he claimed that reports in the German press which 
    commented on broad feelings of sympathy in Germany for the Russian victims 
    of the Kursk tragedy were part of a conspiracy by the media together with 
    the Russian mafia aimed at discrediting President Putin.
    In the latest edition of the magazine Schrder has written a reply to the 
    critique of the WSWS consisting of one-third of a page where he repeats a 
    number of the points he made in his original article, but without taking up 
    any of the criticisms made by Peter Schwarz, author of the WSWS piece. The 
    nearest he gets to putting forward an argument in defence of his own 
    article from October is when he states he was never in Russia!
    Even more extraordinary than the lameness of Schrder's argumentation in 
    the December edition is the way in which the magazine comes to the defence 
    of the Israeli government in the current crisis in the Middle East.
    Konkret claims that Israel is "the last victim of the New World Order"
    Konkret's virulent advocacy of Israeli interests in the present conflict in 
    the Middle East began in the November edition of the magazine which bore 
    the headline on its front cover "Israel: The Last Victim of the New World 
    Order". Inside, the magazine's editor, Hermann L. Gremliza, wrote an 
    editorial devoted to the outbreak of fighting in the occupied territories 
    in which he basically regurgitated the official line of the Israeli government.
    He began his editorial by describing a scene widely shown on television 
    some weeks ago of an unarmed Arab man seeking shelter from the bullets of 
    Israeli soldiers with his 12-year-old son. In the course of a fierce 
    assault by Israeli troops the boy was shot through the heart by Israeli 
    soldiers and died. The scene was reportedly widely in the media and 
    regarded in Western countries as evidence of the ruthlessness with which 
    Israeli troops were persecuting their war against the Palestinians.
    Gremliza saw things differently. The scene, he wrote, was enough "to make 
    one weep". He then continues, "It is also enough to make one puke." He then 
    goes on to accuse the media of exploiting the incident to put Israel in a 
    bad light. In the nauseating and cynical language which characterises his 
    regular column, Gremliza proceeded to damn Arabs defending their lives and 
    His description of Muslim rebels involved in the fighting echoes that of a 
    racist Mossad policeman. He writes: "For example, Islam, the particular 
    features of which include that every young believer, pledged to chastity, 
    receives as payment for an assassination in which he is blown up along with 
    a large number of Jews, the chance to have sex [Gremliza uses a cruder 
    expression] with a dozen virgins in paradise." In the same passage he goes 
    on to describe ultra right-winger and Likud party leader Ariel Sharon's 
    provocative visit to the Temple Mount, which unleashed the current 
    conflict, as "a harmless visit made on a daily basis by dozens of tourists".
    In its December edition the magazine returns to the same theme. The regular 
    interview in the magazine is devoted to Menachem Kanafi, the first 
    secretary of the Israeli embassy in Berlin. In his interview Kanafi repeats 
    the version of events in the West Bank which has been used on numerous 
    occasions by officials of the Israeli government, i.e., that the deaths of 
    Arab children in the occupied territories are part of a deliberate strategy 
    by the Palestinians, who send the children to the front line as so-called 
    "telegenic martyrs".
    The opinion voiced by Kanafi is repeated almost word for word by one of 
    konkret's main contributors, Jrgen Elssser; and for anyone who may have 
    missed the point a third article in the same edition by Horst Pankow 
    returns to the topic. According to Pankow, recent reports in the German 
    press over crimes committed by the Israeli security forces amount to an 
    "anti-Jewish alliance of denunciation".
    Horst Pankow goes even further in an additional article written for another 
    radical magazine called Bahamas. In this second article he describes 
    Palestinian Arabs as "currently the most aggressive anti-Semitic 
    collective" and then goes on to advise Barak and the Israeli government:
    "The Israeli state can only repulse with the utmost severity the 
    destructive anger of Palestinians, prepared to accept their own deaths with 
    a mere shrug of the shoulders."
                                        Contempt for the broad masses
    In line with its latest policy shift it is difficult to know what concrete 
    alliances are being forged behind the scenes. But in its virulent advocacy 
    of Israeli state interests one element emerges which already characterised 
    konkret's cynical treatment of the Kursk tragedy, utter contempt by those 
    involved with the magazine for social issues and the living conditions of 
    broad masses of people.
    The WSWS has written many times on the conflict in the Middle East. We have 
    made absolutely clear our opposition to the expansionist policies of 
    Israel, a form of garrison state founded on the basis of the brutal 
    suppression of the national rights of the Palestinian masses. Today the 
    Israeli state is increasingly in the sway of extreme right-wing and 
    neo-fascist elements, as hostile to the Jewish working class as they are to 
    the Arab masses. These are the forces which are now receiving succour from 
    sections of the former radical left in Germany.
    The present crisis has also served to reveal the reactionary nature of the 
    nationalism advocated by Yassir Arafat's PLO and Hamas, which undermines 
    the only possible progressive perspective for the region, the unity of the 
    Arab masses with Israeli workers against the Israeli state and its 
    capitalist backers.
    At the same time no genuine progressive movement or intellectual can remain 
    indifferent to the deplorable social conditions of the Arab masses and the 
    thoroughly unequal military offensive launched by the Israeli state.  In 
    fact, a lasting solution to the conflicts in the Middle East can only come 
    about when urgent social issues affecting both the Arab and Israeli peoples 
    in the region are addressed.
    Already, prior to the latest crisis, unemployment of Palestinians in the 
    occupied territories stood at 50 percent. Tens of thousands live in 
    miserable camp-like conditions with electricity and water in irregular supply.
    Life in the region has been made additionally intolerable by the division 
    of the territory into a myriad of small colonies existing under virtual 
    armed siege policed by Palestinian and Israeli security forces. This was 
    the normal state of affairs until the current outbreak of fighting. Now, 
    following the closure of check-point crossings, many Palestinians have been 
    cut off from their main source of income, work inside Israel itself.  The 
    West Bank and occupied territories have been overrun by tanks and subjected 
    to continuous bombardment by Israeli fighter planes and helicopter 
    gunships. Deaths in the conflict stand at 15 Palestinians for every Israeli.
    Under such conditions konkret's espousal of Israeli state interests and 
    cheerleading for the current bloodbath being undertaken by Israeli troops 
    is nothing less than a political abomination.

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