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Hebrew University
[Hebrew U, German studies] Moshe Zimmermann the End of America’s Umbrella: Netanyahu and co. believe that they will get away with occupation

Article follows bio



Prof. Moshe Zimmermann is the director of the Koebner Center of German History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  He is the author of “The Fear of Peace.”  In March 2011, Zimmermann wrote an article entitled “the End of America’s Umbrella,” (see below), which claimed that Israel was responsible for the fact that there is not peace; asserted that fanatical settlers are holding Israel hostage; and stated that Israel is engaged in an occupation.   

In 2007, Zimmermann published a statement in YNET that tried to portray Israeli teenagers as racist towards Polish people.     

Zimmermann signed a petition criticizing Israel for not giving Palestinian lecturers and students’ freedom of movement, despite the risks to Israel’s security that such freedom of movement would entail.   This petition was adopted by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which launched the Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign.  In fact, Zimmermann even signed the petition to Knesset Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, stating that professors who support boycotting Israel should not be punished.  Zimmermann is also a supporter of the Palestinian right of return.  He has compared IDF soldiers, as well as settlers, to “Nazis.”  In 2003, Zimmermann was part of a group of professors who sent a petition urging the international community to intervene to save Palestine from Israel, claiming that the Israeli right seeks to eliminate the Palestinian national presence.   In 2002, he signed a similar petition calling upon the international community to prevent Israel from committing crimes against humanity.         



The End of America's Umbrella

by Moshe Zimmermann — 25.03.2011

Israel's foreign policy has long been dependent on America's influence in the region. The past months have rendered that arrangement largely irrelevant. The influence of the US is declining, Israel needs to re-assess its relations to neighboring countries. The status quo has become an impossible option for future policy decisions.

Israel’s mythological foreign minister, Abba Eban, coined the bon-mot: “The Palestinians never missed a chance to miss a chance”. Now, with the rise of the revolutionary tide in the Arab world, one must admit: If there is a party to the conflict in the Middle-East that missed the big chance it is no other than Israel itself. Twenty years of American efforts to mediate peace between Israel and the Palestinians went down the drain. And what is even more hair-raising is the fact, that neither Israel’s politician nor Israel’s public opinion seem to be aware of this fact.

Protected by America

From 1990 to 2010 the US were the world policeman. For Israel – an ideal constellation: It could count on American incentives for Egypt and Jordan for keeping the peace with Israel alive, on a military umbrella against Arab threats, and, most important, on a pro-Israeli stand in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Time, Israeli politicians after Rabin believed, is on Israel’s side – the time used for extending its hold over the occupied territories and stalling the peace process.

Since there was no one to put real counter-pressure on Israel, this policy was so successful.

Even more so since 9/11, when Bush’s anti-terrorist axis became the strategic framework for these tactics. Indeed, Palestinian terrorism is a strong argument against Israeli compromises, but the spiritus movens behind Israel’s tactics was the idea of “Greater Israel” and the settlers’ aims. Israel prided itself, being the only democracy in the Middle East, a natural partner to the war against terrorism and therefore tried to convince its allies that no peace can be reached with Palestinians. The democracy that arose 2006 in Gaza, seemed to confirm the assumption that even the alternative to autocracy in the Arab world must be harm to Israel and to Western civilization.

The first reaction of Israel’s policy-makers to the recent uprisings was: “We were right all the way. One shouldn’t trust the Arabs or believe in peace-treaties with them”. Netanyahu, Lieberman etc., who related to the mounting criticism against Israel in the last years as vicious attempts at a delegitimization of Israel now use the unrest in the Arab world as an excuse for not addressing the cause for this criticism. The fact that even now the US vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlement policy makes Netanyahu and co. believe that they will get away with occupation even under the new circumstances.

A Greater Israel?

But those who listen carefully to Obama, to Merkel, to Chile’s president Pinera (who visited Israel this week) start to realize that the US is not the superpower it used to be any more, and i.e. that a strategic change of policy is imperative. It seems though that those who listen are less the politically blind and arrogant government members, but rather the fanatic settlers who are afraid of these ministers regaining sight and of the Israeli public becoming aware of being their (3% of Israel’s population) hostage, which will lead to a retreat from the occupied territories before the mounting pressure from the outside will make them pay an unbearable price. And because the settlers scent the danger – coming September the UN general assembly is expected to recognize the Palestinian state – they organize their own “Days of wrath”, terrorizing Palestinians and Israelis to believe that there is no alternative to the idea of a “Greater Israel” living on its sword.

About the Author

Moshe Zimmermann, born 1943 in Jerusalem, is Professor for German History. He has been the director of the Richard-Koebner-Center for German History at the Hebrew University Jerusalem since 1986. He has served as visiting professor at several Universities in Germany and America. Zimmermann is the author of many publications in German, English and Hebrew about nationalism, anti-Semitism, the history of sport, film-history and German-Jewish history.

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