From Oslo to Camp David


Felicia Langer

The new book by Ludwig Watzal is another extensive and sober analysis of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It is even more critical of Israel's policy than the previous books.

In the midst of the festivities to Israel's 50th birthday, in May 1998, appeared his book "Peace Enemies" in English ( Passia ( In 1994, LudwigWatzal published a very profound study on Israel Human Rights violation of the Palestinians: "Peace without Justice? Israel and the Human Rights of the Palestinians". This book can be down loaded from (

The new book is dealing with the history of the conflict from the beginning of the Jewish colonization of Palestine at the end of the 19th century till today. The author analyses thoroughly all the Oslo documents between PLO and Israel till the Camp David failure, the Israeli policy of settlements, dispossession, house demolition, building of by-pass roads, closures and the political and economic dependence of the Palestinians.

He describes the constant Israeli human rights violations in defiance of International Law, till this very day. He deals too with the human rights violations of the PNA, with Jewish and Palestinian fundamentalism, with terror and legitimate acts of resistance. The author dedicates a special study to the antagonistic contradictions within the Israeli society in their historical and present context.

In the first chapter, dealing with the history of Palestine and

Israel, the author describes the colonialist and exclusivist character of the Zionist theory and practice and the dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian population, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel.

"The slogan of Israel Zangwill -for people without land-land without people, was in full conformity with the expansionist spirit of the era", so the author. The establishment of Israel means national disaster, expulsion, exile, homelessness, in short, an endless suffering for the Palestinian people.

"Therefore Zionism can only be adequately judged when it takes the disaster for the Palestinians with into account", so Watzal. In the chapter dealing with the history of establishment of the State of Israel the reader has the opportunity to make an acquaintance with the "new historians" of Israel, popular now in Israel. They have proved, inter alia, with the help of archive's documents, that the official Israeli myth, that the exodus of the Palestinians from the country both before and after establishment of Israel was initiated and caused by the Arab leadership was a sheer lie.

In fact, the flight was prompted by Israel 's political and military leaders, who believed that Zionist colonization and statehood necessitated the "transfer of Palestinian Arabs to Arab countries".

The expulsion orders of Ben Gurion, emphasizing the word "to clean", with all its connotations. Also the formal Zionist acceptance of the UNO Partition Resolution of November 29th was no more as a tactical move in the overall Zionist strategy.

According to the "new historians" Ben Gurion profoundly opposed the creation of a Palestinian State, having in mind an increase of the territory assigned by the UN to the Jewish State. In a chapter dealing with the wars in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors the author criticizes the media especially in USA and in Germany because of their one sided attitude, namely that all the wars were war of defense of Israel.

For Watzal Israel is no longer a victim of supposed Arab aggression but became itself an aggressor which instigated several wars like in 1956, 1967, 1977 and 1982. He quotes Moshe Dayan's interview which was post mortem published in 1997 in which he admitted that Israel took the chance in June 1967 to conquer the Golan Heights.

Watzal is quoting the opinion of an Israeli intellectual, Professor Israel Shahak about Israel's hegemonial aims in the Middle East. This view is very rare in Germany,although it has nowadays quite many adherents in Israel.

One of the most interesting and informative chapters of this significant book is the chapter about the "peace process" and the analysis of the Oslo Accords. The author's opinion, shared to day by many is, that the peace process was not the beginning of the Palestinian emancipation, but rather the beginning of its end, because the oppressed have legitimized their oppressor, before the oppression was terminated.

For Watzal it is historical unique that a former liberation movement changed sides and works with its oppressor together in order to reach its freedom.

Such a thing has never worked." The Palestinian have to bear a kind of an occupation "de luxe". The Oslo Accords caused only some cosmetic changes and the development has nothing to do with a real peace. It is rather a subjugation of the Palestinians in all fields, including the economic one, while the oppression of the Palestinians continues.

The author scrutinizes in depth the Accords in order to prove his thesis. The 11 maps of the West Bank, as a part of the book serve as an excellent illustration of the sad reality showing the "Bantustanisaton" of the territories, fully supporting the author's contentions.

The author is reviewing the settlement's activity of Rabin, Peres, Netanyahu, Barak and Sharon with a tacit consent of the PNA, the massive building of Apartheid by-pass roads for the settlers. He shows that there is no difference between the so-called "peace politicians" like Rabin and Peres and the "more radical" like Netanyahu and Sharon. The number of settlers increased during the years of the rule of the "peace-loving" government by 48%. By the end of 2000 it doubled again.

The facts are almost unknown in Germany, because these activities are covered with the cloak of "peace process" even till to day. The author is analyzing the poisonous political climate of the Israeli extreme right which led to the assassination of the Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and to the victory of Sharon, also due to the election campaign of the Labour, which meant a pure imitation of Likud.

It was obvious that people always prefer the original. The author shows that there is no difference between the disastrous policy of Netanyahu, Barak or Sharon.

All three governments undermined with their provocative settlement activity any kind of "peace process". For Watzal Peres is a fig-leaf for the west to communicate to them Sharon's extremist views.

A special chapter deals with the continued human rights violations of the Palestinians by Israel as tortures, policy of arbitrary killings, arbitrary detentions, settlement policy, dispossession, the "quite deportation of Palestinians from Jerusalem, house demolition, the closure of the territories as a collective punishment in defiance of International Law.

Especially since the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa-Intifada the human rights violations by Israel have escalated. The PNA too violates the human rights of the Palestinians. The author enumerates instances of tortures, death in detention, persecution of human rights activists, arrests without due legal process, lack of freedom of press and democracy.

All this occurs under Israeli and American pressure, but it cannot serve as an excuse. The author emphasizes that the human rights situation in the autonomy was improved during the intifada.

The chapter "Israel between Jewish`democracy and religious fundamentalism" deals with the deep controversies or even abyss within Israeli society, the assassination of Rabin with all its dangerous implications, and with the roots of the political and religious extremism.

The chapter deals too with the culture of militarism in Israel and its reasons, with "Post-Zionism." The author's assumption is, that the "peace process" has to be abandoned. Only a new beginning can bring peace.

There must be heavy pressure by the US toward the Sharon government. The author calls for a new international peace conference with the participation of the UNO, EU, USA and Russia, including all the parties involved. But Israel must rewrite it historic narrative and stop it colonialist settlement adventure. As long as Israel and the USA vehemently reject this ideas, anxious to lose their political power, there will be no peace. The future of the Middle East does not look promising at the moment, but it can change, when Israel is willing to give the Palestinians what they rightly deserve.

But Watzal is a realist. He does not expect any positive change reaction from Ariel Sharon. He sees him in the tradition of colonial Zionism. He abandoned the "peace process and would like to force a final agreement upon Arafat. The prospects of a just peace under the present right-wing government are rather dim.

In my opinion this book is the most comprehensive and well based study about the Palestinian-Arab-Israeli relations, the situation in Israel and in Palestine and the Oslo Accords, that ever appeared in Germany.

This very interesting and well written and documented book is based on very rich and differentiated sources, many of them quite new in Germany, making it especially important and significant. But also for the English-speaking world the book gives deep insights into the policy of Israel which is usually not mentioned in the United States. The book is highly recommended and an eye-opener for everyone who supports Israel uncritically.

The Jerusalem Times, vom 10. 4. 2002.