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Meet the Press (3): The Flowers Debate
An Online Review by Anis Hamadeh, 2006
Chapter 1
German Original
Chapter 1: Interview with Fritz Edlinger - The Reproach of anti-Semitism - Reviews - Some Links

- Interview with Fritz Edlinger -

AH: Herr Edlinger, it appeared in public that you have changed your opinion about the book "Flowers of Galilee" in a relevant way after that you published the German translation. Did this come about out of external pressure or did you miss some bits in the reading or how can this be imagined?

FE: When I read the English text of the book for the first time I had an extremely ambivalent feeling. On the one hand I was impressed by the literary style of Israel Shamir and I also liked his essays on the cultural, historico-cultural and folkloristic details of Palestine. On the other hand, I personally did not like the religious over-emphasis of some of his contributions. Especially problematic for me were his sometimes aggressive anti-Jewish statements. After longer considerations and consultations with the editor we decided to publish a German translation, despite all pros and cons, and yet with the exclusion of some of the massively anti-Jewish passages. His depictions of the old Palestine, which in the meantime has mostly been destroyed by the Zionist settlers, impressed me in such a way that I decided to publish the book, being aware that one or another passage would still be disturbing.

Thus I was prepared for a certain amount of commotion. It was the extend that astonished me a little. Yet I would like to mention in this context that in the beginning there had for months not been any negative reactions, at all. Then a massive campaign set in, a couple of quotations were transmitted throughout Europe and finally caught by some anti-fascist and pro-Israeli organisations. The fact that many of the diffused quotations were completely taken out of context and that some of the activists have never looked into the book themselves was not a new phenomenon to me. It is usual in this kind of campaigns. No news, either, to personally be defamed as an anti-Semite, as I have for more than 25 years been a committed worker for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. I had experienced the vehemence of the anti-Semitism club several times before, swung by "politically correct" lobbyists. This time it was especially dense and also from unexpected sides.

So, after these impressions, I read the text over and over again and indeed found that some of the passages actually are not acceptable in this way. Additionally, in the course of this really unpleasant and arduous discussion I was confronted with activities and facets of Israel Shamir's character which I did not know before. He does have some extremely questionable political connections and will be a rather problematic character personally, too. As you know, I have publically admitted that and dissociated from these passages. Besides, I took the book off in my own sphere of action, the Association for Austrian-Arab Relations. In my view this is more than enough, I am not a fascist to organize public burnings of books.

AH: As will be shown later on, there are very sharp rejections of this book and its author in the public. It receives labels like "one of the most evil sedition pamphlets since 1945". Most of all, the reproach of anti-Semitism constantly appears in the critics. It seems as if the reception is more revealing than the book itself. Do you agree?

FE: On the reproach of anti-Semitism against this book I already had a word. I do accept that some passages are anti-Semitic or, at least, can be interpreted this way. However, I do not want to bring myself too much into the debate on Jewish anti-Semitism and Jewish self-hatred, respectively. There are others better suited for this by far.

You certainly are right that the manner of the whole campaign as such already is most interesting. As mentioned, I several times made the experience that people turned against the book, its author, against me and the editor without even having read the book. Some did not even know the selective collection of quotes, but only pamphlets authored by biased journalists and/or scientists. Also, the connection between the political situation in the Middle East and anti-Semitism (in this case mostly the so-called new anti-Semitism) was simply denied by some of the participants of the debate. The very committee, which e.g. had mobilized against my participation in an event at the University of Graz, told me in a personal encounter that they do not know anything about the Israeli Palestinian conflict and thus were unable to talk about it. That they simply were against any kind of anti-Semitism, everything else would not be their concern. I remarked that it was not as simple as that and they can be subject of playing a special role in the strategy of the Israeli government, who defame all attacks against their unlawful policy of occupation as anti-Semitic, but they only repeated the same slogans over and over again. In this context, it is not surprising, either, that the labelling as "the most evil anti-Semitic sedition pamphlet since 1945" originates in the writing-office of an absolute pro-Israeli documentation centre in Vienna.

In summary: there surely are anti-Semitic passages in the book, or at least such which can be interpreted this way. I may have to take the blame for having distributed this. Another empirical fact in my view is that unfortunately many people, who have mobilized and polemized against this book as well as against other books critical of Israel and/or anti-Zionist books, are not really concerned with anti-Semitism. Those lobbyists are simply concerned with hushing up the untenable policy of Israel's and to distract people from their crimes.

AH: Why did you want to sign the Dortmund Declaration and what was the reaction?

FE: Most of all, I wanted to sign this declaration to express my personal solidarity with those initiatives and individuals in Germany, who are active against this very instrumentalization of anti-Semitism on behalf of the Israeli government. Yet, especially the latest events (law-suit between Melzer-Broder, campaigns against Rupert Neudeck and Ludwig Watzal etc.) clearly indicated the necessity to decidedly oppose this terror of opinion by the "politically correct".

Therefore I was rather surprised when the promoter of the Dortmund Declaration told me he does not accept my signature as he blames me, at least, for the distribution of anti-Semitic thoughts. Whether he had read "Flowers of Galilee" himself at that point or whether he was referring to second or third hand information is not known to me. This rejection astonished me, but what touched me most unpleasantly was the apodictic tone as well as the demand according to which my signature might eventually be accepted if I authored an extended dissociation of Israel Shamir and the book "Flowers of Galilee". Well, I do not know Herr Steinberg personally, but the man does seem to have a rather odd understanding of tolerance, freedom of opinion and the culture of discussion. This demand appears to me to be a hybrid of clerical and party-political authority thinking. I was under the impression that both lays behind us, seen from a historico-culturally angle, at least here in Central Europe.

In this context, I would like to report about an experience I had to make several times in the course of the years: when the talk is about Israel I repeatedly noticed that Jewish friends, for whom their Jewishness is absolutely no subject, as well as it is not in our personal relationships, suddenly behaved in a strange and reserved way. I have some explanations for this phenomenon, they are well applicable to non-Zionist Jews, too. They range from a sometimes extremely strong milieu pressure (it surely is no pleasure for secular non-Zionist Jews, either, to continuously be defamed to be a traitor or something like that by Zionists and/or believing Jews) to a self-censorship in the anticipation of doing the right thing. Also in Jews, who are very critical of Israel, I had to make the experience that they do differentiate between the people who criticize Israel. Apparently, non-Jews (especially when from Austria or Germany) are granted a lower degree of Israel criticism than what they grant to themselves. Several times I have been confronted with the surprising situation that Jews, who are very critical of Israel, rejected my criticism or, at least, relativized it. It cannot be excluded that this aloofness, too, has something to do with a more or less consciously articulated reproach or reservation because of anti-Semitism. Apparently, the principle "Quod licet Iovi not licet bovi" is applied here.

AH: What do you think are the central issues in the flowers debate?

FE: For me there are two central issues at the outset: the discussion about anti-Semitism and Jewish self-hatred as well as the question of the political instrumentalization of anti-Semitism on behalf of the Israeli occupation policy.

Concerning the issue of anti-Semitism there hardly is anything I would like to add to what I already said. Due to my own political socialisation (My origin is in left social democracy and in the course of my political education in the sixties the radical rejection of every kind of fascism was, so to speak, my political mother's milk; until today I feel committed to slogans like "nip it in the bud" and "no more war" and I emphatically reject every kind of anti-Semitism and every other kind of racism!) I consider myself rather immune against every kind of anti-Semitism, be it old or new. However, I have to add that I find the theory of the so-called new anti-Semitism, which has been developed in the past years by the relevant "skilled authorities", most problematic. The standard definitions are so ambiguous and vague that the circle of these new anti-Semites can be widely extended at discretion. Not long ago we could witness the attempt of defining anti-Semitism in the Berlin Centre for anti-Semitism Research. In this context I plead for the limitation on the hard facts of old anti-Semitism (i.e. glorification of National Socialism, Holocaust denial, different aspects of old Christian anti-Semitism etc.) and to leave all the other novel definitions to the realm of unscientific speculation.

I cannot and will not contribute to the really interesting discussion about Jewish anti-Semitism and Jewish self-hatred (Although, as a disciple of Bruno Kreisky, who was reproached for all this himself, I have some observations available.)

This leads me to the second central issue in the flowers debate: the political instrumentalization of anti-Semitism. I mentioned before that this is the real stirring issue for me personally. For here we come down to - if you excuse the casual expression - the nitty-gritty. It is about the political reality. For by now it is a truism that the political establishment in Israel and a considerable part of international Jewish organisations are using the reproach of anti-Semitism as a weapon against all critics of the Israeli policy of expansion and occupation. Even in situations, where there is no use whatsoever of anti-Semitic argumentation, the club of anti-Semitism suspicion is swung at once - see the theory of "new anti-Semitism". As I have been dealing with Israel/Palestine for more than 25 years I can even draw some historical comparisons. There is one fact I see without a doubt: the more violent the Israeli occupation policy and with it its grade of violating the law of nations had become the more use was made of the weapon of the approach of anti-Semitism. Now the Israeli policy of land robbery and occupation doubtlessly has reached its peak under Arik Sharon so that there is the natural need for an adequate propagandistic compensation. Next to the known thesis (mostly generated by Israel and accepted by the US), according to which there is no dialogue partner on the Palestinian side, the anti-Semitism argument worldwide is the most important vehicle for the enforcement and implementation of the Israeli policy. Thus, to me there is a clear connection between the manner and extension of the Israeli policy and the intense and abundant use of the "weapon of anti-Semitism". This is an important thing to clearly mention also in the context of the flowers debate.

Another short remark in the context of the odd debate with Herr Steinberg: there were many things important to him, in the end he presented an immense list of quotations and demands for dissociation, but he did not see or did not want to see the context between the discussion about the book and the Israeli policy, either, at least it did not play any role, at all, in our correspondence.

AH: In one of your latest articles you plead for "dialogue instead of exclusion", also in respect to Hamas who won the elections. What kind of a dialogue do you have in mind?

FE: Let me state, first of all, that I am an absolute follower of the principle to solve political conflicts, both on the national and the international levels, with nonviolent political means. Thus I am deliberately against violence, no matter who exerts it. Violence does not solve conflicts, but it only creates new ones. And what is regarded a legitimate use of violence for a "noble cause" by one individual, may be conceived as terror by somebody else. The recent inconclusive debate in the framework of the United Nations proved it once more. The Israeli Palestinian conflict is a textbook example for how violence only generates counter-violence and how violence only moves people farer away from a solution of the factual questions which are the fundament of the conflict.

With my appeal "dialogue instead of exclusion" I have mainly referred to the European Union. The EU in its first reaction on the surprisingly clear election victory of the Hamas in the elections of the Palestinian Legislative Council had immediately confronted Hamas with some indispensable demands. They would have to distance themselves from terror, to acknowledge the existential right of the State of Israel and, more or less, accept Oslo and the Road Map. Until today I am waiting for a similarly ultimate demand for the Israeli government to stop at once all state terror like air-raids on Palestinian cities and villages as well as the so-called targeted killings. Neither was there a word that Israel shall withdraw from all the areas occupied in 1967 - following the relevant UN resolutions - and in such a way create the suppositions for the foundation of a viable Palestinian state. It was a completely one-sided and provocative statement which strongly contradicts the principle of peaceful conflict resolution, allegedly so much promoted by the EU. Yet there is no doubt, at all, about the fact that Hamas will have to change in order to lead a dialogue on peace. But the same is true for Israel! You cannot expect a dialogue when you exclude one of the two partners at the outset. Unfortunately, the EU, with this contribution, followed the very pattern of exclusion and of the creation of unnecessary enemy thinking which for decades has been responsible for the complete failure of any Israeli Palestinian peace talk. To the same amount, to which Palestinians cannot choose their discussion partners on the Israeli side, Israel and the whole world cannot escape to acknowledge those powers on the Palestinian side which emerged from democratic elections as representatives of the Palestinian people, and this is Hamas, whether we like it or not. Should we not finally accept this democratic principle and should we not leave a minimum of autonomy and freedom of decision to the Palestinian people, then to my mind it is to be expected that unfortunately a new bloody chapter will be opened in the history of the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

AH: Do you see any relations or parallels between the flowers debate and the current cartoons debate?

FE: Without wanting to move too deeply into the issue I can say that there are quite some parallels. To name but a few: the existence of taboos and the consciously provocative violation of these taboos, the creation and the strengthening of enemy thinking, the creation of double standards and the exploitation of mistakes/undesirable developments of the respective other party for one's own ends. But above all stands the bad culture of not wanting to take note of the other and of rejecting the dialogue.

As a socialist I am not much concerned with religious matters and I feel very much obliged to the values of enlightenment. In the case at hand, however, the freedom of opinion is not the real core of the issue, it rather is about a consciously provoked confrontation. The whole action of the Danish paper "Jyllands-Posten", which obviously is an ultra-right-wing, racist concoction and which had refused the publication of allegedly anti-Christian caricatures, was a thoroughly planned action. Thus there is a scandalous, racist, criminal action hostile to foreigners which hides behind the guise of freedom of opinion. And this is to be rejected most emphatically, despite freedom of opinion and tolerance. One should not neglect the political environment, either: this right-wing government in Denmark, which has been ruling for many years, pursues one of the most hostile policies towards foreigners, at all. It is characterized by the creation of enemy pictures and by intentional provocations. When the Danish prime minister - many months after the publication of the caricatures and several months after he had refused the dialogue with the Arab-Islamic ambassadors - apologizes for the whole thing, then this is utterly incredible. Here a conscious policy of exclusion and discrimination is followed. In this respect there is a huge resemblance with the Israeli Palestinian conflict and, in the end, with the flowers debate.

The violent reactions against European institutions in different Islamic states pose an absolutely incomprehensible over-reaction and therefore are to be vehemently denounced. Those Islamic politicians, who have approved of these actions or even provoked them, are to be denounced most of all. They mainly misused religious sentiments for selfish interests of maintaining their power. However, I want to stress in this context that many Islamic politicians have by all means behaved in a responsible way by sharply condemning the street violence which had gotten out of control. And yet I also do not want to ignore that in Europe, too, there have been enough scandalous, also lukewarm statements which denied and belittled the actual problem - the French minister of the interior Sarkozy was especially eager in this once again. In view of the month-long case history, the hostile policy of Denmark concerning foreigners and the clear tendency of the entire EU towards a more rigid foreigners' policy verbal apologies and appeals for moderation - as e.g. in the Austrian EU presidency - just do not suffice anymore. For here the whole foreign policy of the EU is concerned, too, the security policy, the Middle East policy and in the end also the policy towards foreigners. Which by no means is tolerant, sympathetic and cooperative. This again is a clear parallel to the flowers and the Middle East debate: one can hardly escape the impression that it is about a dialogue among the deaf.

There would be a lot more to say, e.g. the question in how far this mostly uncontrolled explosion is the expression of a totally unreligious inferiority complex of the Arab Islamic people. But there is one last thing I want to say, in order to avoid more and less conscious misunderstandings: of course it is wrong to blame Europe alone for this latest confrontation. Some few Arab commentators had the courage to also point to the blatant mistakes and weaknesses of Islam as a religion or of the Islamic states, respectively. As long as Islam in its great majority appears to be a rigid theocracy, unchanged for centuries, as long as it provides the spiritual and political justification for dictatorial states, for inhumane interpretations of the law and for terrorist aberrances it will not be able to deny a certain amount of guilt in respect to the widespread socio-political and cultural misery in the Islamic world. And exactly this is the actually interesting question: when and under which conditions will Islam finally throw the ballast of medieval conceptions and rules overboard and contribute to the emancipation and social development of the Muslims? There are some approaches in the worldwide Islamic community ("Umma"), but nothing more until now. The West, however, which in the past days and weeks has once more acted as if it was totally superior both spiritually and politically, should in this case rather step back a little and be aware of its high degree of guilt concerning the current situation in the Orient. This is why most of the statements of European politicians, however sympathetic and balancing they are supposed to be, sound hollow and incredible.

- The Reproach of anti-Semitism -

(Feb. 11, 2006) I sat at the computer translating the final sentences of the Fritz Edlinger interview into English. It seemed to me like the opening in pool billiards, when the balls are kicked off and distributed in all colors over the table. The recurring discourse on the reproach of anti-Semitism... Human rights advocate Felicia Langer has written about it a lot in the last years, warning of the dangers. Former German legislator Jamal Karsli wrote a book with many sources on the subject, I have it here. Most of the participants known to me in the Middle East discourse, including Israel Shamir, are concerned with the reproach of anti-Semitism and in most cases regard it to be controversial. I also produced a longer source study with 400 examples from the German press and in this framework held lectures in Duesseldorf and at the University of Leipzig.3

There still seems to be only a small awareness of the fact that the reproach of anti-Semitism (among other situations) always appears in public whenever the Israeli policy of violence is consequently refused and criticized. As if occupation and oppression was part of the Jewish state's right of existence. In this way, the reproach of anti-Semitism (in parts) becomes structural and cultural violence in the sense Galtung's philosophy. As a pacifist, I am not resistant against such reproaches, either. On the internet, for example, there is a page for me where it reads: "Despite his activity for the peace process in the Middle East he often is one-sided pro-Palestinian. Concepts like "anti-Semitism" pose problems to him (essay on anti-Semitism). He also deals with concepts like 'right-wing populism' as if he wants to justify them. In ATTAC he belongs to those who promotes the condemnation of the Israelis and thus exposed himself to the reproach of anti-Semitism himself."4.

Quod licet Iovi... All that is allowed to Jupiter... non licet bovi... is not necessarily allowed to an ox... Israel (since long ago) has a right to exist, Palestine hasn't. Israel has an army and atomic weapons, Palestine hasn't. Jews may immigrate, the millions of Palestinian refugees, despite UN resolutions, must not go back to their homeland. Jewish Israelis have their own laws, Palestinians haven't. There are reports about attacks against Jews, many more than reports about attacks on Palestinians. Compare for yourself by reading the headlines on www.TheHeadlines.Org next to your usual newspaper for a month.

It is part of the German "reason of state" to secure the existence of Israel, as our present foreign minister recently formulated, including the violations of international law and the human rights. We are seduced by our own politicians to become accomplices in an injustice. If you are not prepared for that you will easily be regarded and treated like a terrorist or an anti-Semite. Yet, when Israel calls itself the Jewish state (the state of all Jews) and maintains a Jewish army and government, then, in view of the Israeli attitude towards the use of violence, it is a small wonder that there also are statements critical of Jews, not only those critical of Israel and of Zionism. It is another question how such statements are to be assessed individually.

A striking feature in the case of Israel Shamir is the contradictions within his book "Flowers of Galilee". For example, we find the sentence: "Discrimination against Jews in not only morally condemnable, but also the wrong strategy." (p. 211 of the German edition, re-translated). But only two sentences further it reads: "When the Jews are successful as bankers the bank system should be re-organized, until the success of bankers is history. (...) When Jews are successful in the media, then the media should be democratized (...)". Here I see a blatant contradiction. Before turning to the content of the book in more details, here first follow some topical assessments of the book from the German press and the internet press.

- Reviews -

(Feb. 18, 2006) Two current articles and reviews on the book "Flowers of Galilee" and its author Israel Shamir can be found in the German press. The first is in the left-wing weekly newspaper "Freitag", by Ludwig Watzal and the second is in the right-wing weekly newspaper "Junge Freiheit", by Friedrich Romig. Both are dated February 10, 2006.5 Ludwig Watzal writes about Shamir: "With the increasing brutality during the Al-Aqsa Intifada at the end of September 2000 his name occurred in 2001 in the Israeli Palestinian discourse. Subsequently, the first critical voices followed on the internet, ascribing an 'anti-Jewish', even an 'anti-Semitic' attitude to Shamir." Ludwig does emphasize in a positive way that Shamir's book shows philosophical, theological, literary and socio-political skills, as well as it provides insights into the Palestinian culture and history, yet some formulations would display "judeophobic, conspiracy-theoretical and anti-Semitic thinking". The article continues with details about Shamir's "questionable role" in the discourse. According to Wikipedia and the website Answers.com Shamir has ties to the neo-Nazi scene and to "fascist sympathizers" like Horst Mahler, Martin Webster, David Irving and David Duke. It is reported that Shamir is a member of the organisation "Deir Yassin Remembered" and that some Jews and Arabs have left the organisation because of him, like Michael Warschawski, Lea Tsemel, Jeff Halper. Ali Abunimah (Electronic Intifada), too, and Hussein Ibish, spokesman of the "American-Arab anti-discrimination committee", have warned as early as in 2001, because of his anti-Jeiwsh and racist statements, for example the reproach of the collective murder of Christ. Milan based journalist Susanne Scheidt blames him for justifying and mystifying National Socialism and the Hitler regime, for instance the Nuremberg laws. Shamir would harm the cause of the Palestinians, as he aims at disavowing his audience by placing them in exactly the corner in which the Israeli propaganda and its US American supporters want to see them, and that is in the anti-Semitic corner. Watzal writes: "The fact that Shamir is not prepared to answer questions on his identity, his motivations and contacts to the extreme right-wing scene, is something that the author of this article had to experience, when he had posed some questions in this field in the beginning of October 2005. He harshly rejected them as 'impertinent'." On February 23, 2005, Shamir is reported to have spoken before the "House of Lords" in London, attacking the "Jewish dominion" there. The article ends with the words: "With these anti-Jewish obsessions Shamir does not only show his Judeophob attitude, but he also harms the progressive Israeli and Palestinian community and their cause a great deal. They, however, have ended their cooperation with him. The only ones who have still not grasped this are many Palestinians and some Jewish intellectuals."

Thus the article suggests not to cooperate with Israel Shamir. This is a central conclusion, drawn by a number of networkers, and yet rarely ever defined in detail. What does "cooperate" mean? We will come back to this point later on. To be mentioned is that Ludwig Watzal had published a review of the Book "Flowers of Galilee" eight months earlier in the same medium.6 It begins with: "From time to time we find Israelis who refuse the national consensus for moral-ethical reasons by courageously denouncing the human rights violations and the brutal oppression of the Palestinians. Belonging to those is Israel Shamir, who was born in 1947 in Novosibirsk and who came to Israel in 1969. He fought in the Yom Kippur war of 1973 as a soldier in a parachute unit. His life in Israel had an unspectacular course for a long time. He translated the Talmud, James Joyce, Homer and other classics into Russian. He worked for the Israeli radio and wrote for some newspapers in Israel, Russia and Japan." We read that he favors the one-state solution, that he speaks against the reproach of anti-Semitism as a weapon, that he denounces the violence of the settlers. The conflict between Judaism and Christendom is also dealt with, only in a more moderate way: "Shamir holds the thesis that the world is moving back into the Middle Ages and that Israel in this process is reviving its 'hostile attitude toward Christendom'. As an indication for this he quotes an event in which a soldier was firing a rocket from out of a Merkava tank on the madonna statue of the Church of the Holy Family in Bethlehem." The review ends with: "The book is a frank account of Israel and its policy which many people do not want to see and acknowledge this way." Thus, similar to Fritz Edlinger, Ludwig Watzal, too, distances himself from Shamir retroactively. Watzal writes in the article summarized above: "As the reviewer of this book (Freitag 22/2005) I was surprised that there are also Israeli anti-Semites, but as a German I had qualms to blame an Israeli for anti-Semitism."

Different is the review in the Junge Freiheit. Ironically, Shamir in this right-wing paper is called "Israel's Michael Moore". It starts with: "There are few books which illuminate the tragic of the almost sixty-year-old war in Palestine with so much perceivable warmness, historical knowledge and memorable, pictorial illustrations as the 'Flowers of Galilee' by Israel Shamir." The journalist deals with the controversy of the book and characterizes Shamir like this: "In Zionist Judaism and its lore of the 'chosen people' Shamir sees the true reason for the crimes against human rights and international law continuously committed by Israel." What is expressed in this quote seems to me to be one of the joints between allowed and not allowed criticism of Judaism, for it contains researchable elements and comprehensible arguments. One does not have to agree with its content to acknowledge that this statement is legitimate and discussable. Romig continues with the reproach of anti-Semitism which Shamir is said to denote as a new form of racism, for instance in the campaigns of the Anti-Defamation League. Then comes this ZOG thing: "Shamir boosts his polemicism so much that he even declares Washington, similar to the West Bank, Iraq or Afghanistan, to be a territory occupied by Israeli Zionist terrorists. The term he uses for this situation is 'ZOG' ('Zionist Occupied Government'), it has meanwhile entered the political debate in the USA. In Hebrew, 'Zog' additionally denotes the prince of darkness and of destruction: 'Zog rules in ZOG'." Shamir has been often attacked for this thought in the internet community... maybe a bit over-proportional. Another joint between allowed and not allowed criticism shows at the end of the review: "Shamir is convinced - and here he can find agreement only in the ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel at the most - that the State of Israel as a product of Zionism does not have a right of existence in Palestine. As long as Israel exists as a state there would not be peace in the Middle East. Shamir clings to the idealistic, maybe even naive idea that regards the cohabitation of Jews and Palestinians in a common state to be a peaceful perspective." Here, the signal and prayer wheel concept of "the State of Israel's right of existence" is explicitly mentioned... and denied. A violent state would not in this way have a right to exist.

The fact that a right-wing paper does not reject Shamir as much as a left-wing paper does not imply that Shamir is right-wing. One has to be careful about that. In my assessment, Shamir has said goodbye to the left/right paradigm and does not belong to either of them, or to both, respectively. If he belongs to a camp then it is the "pro-Palestinian", the "anti-Zionist", the "anti-Jewish".7 At least, these are concepts more adequate for this discourse than right-wing and left-wing. I also think that the "mystification of National Socialism" rather emanates from the recipients than from Shamir, only that Shamir does not participate in the automatic rejection and demonization of "the right-wing". The allegation that Shamir sides with "the Nazis" should be regarded very critically. About David D. Perlmutter, who had glorified the Third Reich, Shamir writes: "Such daydreamers should conscientiously be removed from the education system, for they are nothing but unconverted Nazis." (Flowers, p. 153, retranslated) There is no reason to assume that this is a simulation. He means it this way. At the same time he is of the opinion that current right-wing parties are not National Socialist in the historical sense, as he told me when I asked him a question in this field. All in all, there is rather little known about right-wing positions in the German public, as they rarely enter the discourse. In most cases we only find stereotypes like xenophobia, country-related identity (nationalism), Nazi symbolism and Nazi succession. In fact, today there are some congruencies between the extreme left and the extreme right, for example in their USA critical attitude. The acceptance of military violence as a political means is there in both extremes, too. Especially in the discourse at hand the right-wing/left-wing dichotomy is not helpful, as the respective profiles are blurring in central issues.

- Some Links -

(February 25, 2006) In the bus I continued reading the fascinating book "Enemies of Peace. The Endless Conflict between Israel and the Palestinians" by Ludwig Watzal (Aufbau Paperback Publishing House, 2nd edition 2002, in German). Ludwig was surprised that I wanted to have an autograph in it. He did not know that I have an extra shelf for books the authors of which I know personally. Most of them contain autographs. Recently, he held a good lecture here in the University of Mainz, about Palestine after the elections. Before the lecture we also talked about Shamir and Ludwig mentioned his impending article in the Freitag.

The bus stopped at Bismarck Square, I descended and shuffled the few meters home. Why was it so difficult to continue writing the flowers debate? It was as if I had to drag myself through knee-high snow, in adverse weather. Normally I had an urge to write. If it has to be written at all, then get it out! Finish it! In order to quickly be ready for new things. Not always it went this way, this was true. Yet, the next pages of the flowers debate were already planned, they just did not want to come out... There are a couple of background links scheduled, then a reader's mail, which refers to Shamir and to Gilad Atzmon, followed by the confrontation with Shraga Elam, who vehemently pleads against it... It must be investigated against what exactly he pleads. Thereafter, my own experiences with Shamir are to be talked about.

The book itself can be reviewed and investigated only later. Its author is controversial to such a degree that the mentioning of his name alone suffices in some individuals to evoke rejection. THIS phenomenon must at least approximately be analyzed, before a confrontation with the contents of the book is possible. Here, at first, some more links on the subject:8

Harsh criticism on the book "Galilee Flowers" and the publication in German for example from the journalist Karl Pfeifer in Hagalil, August 22, 2005: There are no left-wing anti-Semites? (in German) and in "Die Juedische", Dec. 16, 2005: Fritz Edlinger persecuted by Jewish journalists? (in German), also in Gudrun Eussner, in her article from September 17, 2005: Israel Shamir and other anti-Semitic flowers from Galilee (in German). In English in Oliver Kamm, Sep. 12, 2005: "Israel Shamir" again. Often mentioned in the sources is the German review by Donja Noormofidi in: Falter 47/2005 and the (German) open letter by "Mayday" to the rector of the Karl Franzens University in Graz about Edlinger (before Nov. 10, 2005). On the internet there also is a statement by Hannes Hofbauer from the Promedia publishing house, dated July 27, 2005 on Israel Shamir, Flowers of Galilee/ anti-Semitism (in German). And the interview in "Muslim-Markt" with Fritz Edlinger (in German), General Secretary of the Society for Austrian Arab Relations, Sep. 18, 2005.

>> Chapter 2


3: "The Reproach of anti-Semitism in Critical Reflection" (2004): www.anis-online.de/1/essays/14/14e.htm (English abstract), and in this context lectures in a symposion in Dueseldorf (museum kunst palast, Feb 27, 2005): "Germany, Israel and Palestine: Past and Present of Collective Repression." (Uni Duesseldorf, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Dressen) and at the University of Leipzig (Prof. Georg Meggle, Chain Seminar "Germany, Israel, Palestine", May 30, 2005): "A German Palestinian Identity". Translation of speech script at: www.anis-online.de/1/essays/Uni-Leipzig-English.pdf (back)
4: http://nahost.mindwiki.de/Anis_Hamadeh - NB: I resigned from Attac. (back)
5: Ludwig Watzal: "The journalist and the 'Empire'. Guessing game about the identity of the Israel-critic and author Israel Shamir", Freitag 6, February 10, 2006, URL: www.freitag.de/2006/06/06061502.php; - Friedrich Romig: "Israel's Michael Moore. Middle East: Israel Shamir sides with the Palestinians". Junge Freiheit, edition 7/06; February 2, 2006, p 15, www.jungefreiheit.de (back)
6: Ludwig Watzal: "'The genuine and the false Jews.' The Israeli journalist Israel Shamir criticizes his country". Freitag 22, June 03, 2005, www.freitag.de/2005/22/05221501.php (back)
7: In the article "Satanic Pictures" (2006), however, Shamir writes "we, the Left and the Liberals", see www.israelshamir.net/English/Satanic.htm (back)
8: This bibliographical paragraph will (probably) be updated until the study at hand is finished (back)