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In Search of Peace by Germain Droogenbroodt


In Search of Peace?


Germain Droogenbroodt




The inhuman face of every war

“Not everyone who has a human face, is a human”, pretended the Persian mystical poet Hakim Sanai  (1070-1150). Although I am a rather optimistic person, when trying to see solutions to get out of the recent outburst of wars, I rather feel like Diogenes, trying to find during daytime with his lantern a human being if we see all atrocities committed by the human race. Those of the recent past by Pol Pot in Cambodia (and by the US in Vietnam, in Iraq), in Latin America, in Rwanda, in Bosnia, in Croatia, in Serbia, in Rwanda, in Congo…

Of course, due to the overwhelming information we receive daily we know and see more of what is going on in the world, even in places we hundred years ago hardly knew they existed. But does all that “information” really informs or greatly or do the mightiest mislead us? Especially as to wars we should remember the words of Berthold Brecht who rightly pretended that the first victim of war is the truth. But, even if what is being said or informed is the truth, whose truth is it?
I remember a black and white movie of the famous Japanese director Akira Kurosawa in which somebody mentioned about three men talking: “They all spoke the truth, their own truth”.

Sure, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is delicate and we know only what we read and are allowed to see, even if we have access to difference sources of information. There is no doubt, after what happened in Germany with the Jews (but also with the always forgotten smaller and less powerful-lobbying number of gypsies) should never be forgotten. Each, EACH human being should have the right to have a country. But the holocaust does not give the Israeli the right to make Gaza a prison, nor to destroy, wound, kill thousands mainly innocent people, bomb and destroy their houses, their schools, their hospitals, water resources, power installations.

Sure, hate will not cease by responding with hate. But how can you love somebody who occupies your homeland, bombs and kills deliberately?
A Palestine woman whose house was destroyed and part of her family killed by the overwhelming Israeli army rightly asked: “How can we avoid that our children hate Israeli?” When you saw hatred, you will harvest hatred. Occupying their land, making Gaza a prison, continuing against the will of all nations – including of the befriended and lobbied US – uninterruptedly building on Palestine land, destroying again thousands of houses (who will pay for the reconstruction?), injuring thousands of people, killing thousands of mainly innocent Palestinians. How to avoid the hate? How to start talking about peace if you do not want to return what you have illegitimate occupied, keep on constructing on it, dictatorially seal of a country, making it prison of 2 million people trapped in their own again and again destructed land which they are not allowed to leave not to enter as they wish, to even to give it a name? What can they do, not even allowed to have weapons to defend themselves, against one of the most modern, mightiest armies of the world? What can they do? What can they do else than build tunnels – which are being destroyed – to get food, nappies for their children, bandages for their wounded and, why not, weapons to defend themselves against the killing intruders? In an interview the Italian photographer Gianluca Panella, who visited Gaza many times, said responding in an interview to the question how these people (the Palestine) became fighters: “Most of them are very young, between 17 and 25. Many are religious. They are not are not crazy, nor born to kill. But they are marked by the circumstances. Like all people from Gaza, they only know war and blockades. Of cause they are willing to kill and to die. But they do not regard themselves as terrorists, but as soldiers”. And if we were allowed to be honest and could ask
– without being brand marked as Anti-Semites, who is a soldier, who is a terrorist? Or what is the difference, being killed by a “terrorist” or by a bomb or grenade be the army?

As to myself, although my favorite poet, Paul Celan of whom I translated several poems was a Jew, my experience with several Israeli poets at international poetry festivals is extremely bad. At an international poetry festival in Taiwan, where I had been invited as guest and speaker, I was severely attacked and nearly beating by an Israeli poet, although he pretended to be a “Noble Prize winner for Peace”. I had mentioned in my speech that only the poets keep their finger on the pulse of their country and can express its feelings. Although amongst other poets, such as the Argentine Juan Gelman
I also had mentioned the famous “Fuge of Death” by Paul Celan, the fact that I dared to mentioned as well the best (non extremist) poet from Palestine, the late Mahmud Darwish, a leading modern Arab poet, I was reproached to be anti-Semite and nearly beaten by the angry Israeli poet for “daring” to mention a poet from Palestine. Similar aggressive “assaults” occurred at poetry festival in other countries. Whenever you dare to criticize an Israeli for the “disgraceful” deeds of his state (Obama is the first American president who had the courage to say it) you are an anti-Semite, although no nation has the right to kill – mainly – innocent humans. Neither has the Israel.

To misquote Brecht I would ask “What times are these, in which talking about the Israeli bombings is considered a misdeed or agreeing with the holocaust?” This does not mean that one should agree with Hamas. But at the question to the Italian photographer Panella, if the Palestine fighters realize that they risk the lives of civilians, hardly anyone was willing to reply. Just one of them finally said: “Why should we be responsible for it? It are the Israeli which drop the bombs. However, if Hamas continues to send rockets to Israel, which responds with killing and destruction, ironically, they finally might become the best ally of their enemy: chasing the inhabitants out of Gaza, making it inhospitable and at the end also become part of Israel.

In one of the world’s less manipulated newspapers (the German die Zeit) I read that in Israel, pictures about Palestine victims are being banned, that by the majority of Israelis any local protest is being criticized or banned.  In the same newspaper, in an interview, Fritz Stern, Jewish historian, says: ·”Where the elder people whatever Israel does accept, the younger generation is more critical and scandalized about what is happening. Especially recently in Gaza
There are protest, also in Israel, of youngsters, even bringing goods to Gaza and willing to talk on a decent basis to find peace for both countries. We can but hope that soon Israel will be lead by more human politicians, and willing to make acceptable proposals to the Palestine, stop constructing more on Palestine land, clear some of their unlawful settlements. In short show goodwill, show that they really want peace, no more Palestine land.

The war is not anymore declared

The Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann wrote the following great poem which is, more than ever before, a statement of what is happening, not only in Palestine, but in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq etc.


The war is not anymore declared
but continues. The outrageous
has become every day. The hero
stays away from the battle. The weak
has gone to the firing line.
The uniform of the day is patience,
the decoration of the pitiful star
of hope above the heart.

The decoration is awarded
when nothing happens anymore,
when the drum fire falls silent,
when the enemy has become invisible
and the shadow of eternal armament
covers the sky.

It is awarded
for desertion of the flags,
for bravery in front of the friend,
for the betrayal of unworthy secret
and the disregard
of every command.

With Bachmann we could meditate about the differences – if there really are – between uniformed fighters and fighters without uniform. In the “Great Wars” soldiers in uniform fought against soldiers in uniform, although civilians have been killed, women raped in all wars. But were those who fought against Franco in the Civil War in Spain “terrorists”? The Vietcong against the American invaders? The French resistance against the Germans? The guerrillas in Latin America? The Palestine? The Russians invading the Crimean? The pro Russians in Ukraine? The Kurds in Turkey (which now have become “heroes” in Iraq because they fight against the IS?) Shakespeare would probably shake his head and say: “ What’s in a name…”

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