Each Man Conceals The Place Where His Heart Beats

Germany and Spain Must Take the Initiative for the Reconciliation of Israelis and Palestinians

I have always been opposed to targeted assassinations out of principle. First, they are immoral, second they are irresponsible, and third, they do not serve Israel's long-term interests. Focusing only on extremists and hate cannot be the way! Hate consumes more energy than reason, let alone love. Hate agitates people, is extremely dangerous—and violates all principles of Judaism.

The wealth of the Jewish people rests on one thing alone: morality. And Israel is giving it away. If we do not hold on to this capital, then we will have little to say in the world. The fact that George Bush is participating in this demonstrates his short-sightedness. And it once again shows that the American government is not capable of using reason to solve the Middle East conflict.

Most politicians have neither an own opinion nor an individual position. So too Bush, whose naivete is dangerous. And the problem with Israeli prime minister Sharon is that while he does have his own position, he is unwilling to accept that other people have other viewpoints.

Everyone's problem is that usually, a war is followed by the establishment of a new order. But after the Cold War, when the balance of power was lost, nothing replaced it. Terrorism is only one result of this. Today, I can only say that I yearn for the America of the Marshall Plan, when the vision of a new world order served European as well as American interests.

Now, a new peace initiative must follow. And the equality of both parties must be established. Up until the founding of Israel in 1948, everyone was Palestinian: Jews, Christians and Muslims lived as equals in one country. All the rights achieved by the Jewish population since then should also apply to Palestinians. But they have not been granted these equal rights. This is a question of responsibility, not culpability. And the greater responsibility lies with Israel, as it is both state and nation—the Palestinians are neither. Israelis dream that one day the Palestinians will be gone, and the Palestinians dream vice versa. Of course that will not happen, realities are still more powerful than dreams. Only after a non-violent and just reality has been established will political dreams become free and safe.

I have never believed in a military solution of the conflict, as violence hurts every thinking and feeling Israeli.

Basically, there are two issues here: the historical developments and the pragmatic reality. Use of weapons only reveals the lack of a long-term vision for the next 20 or 30 years. There will be no ideological end of the conflict; the solution can only be a pragmatic one with which we can all live. Israel's government, and therein lies the current paradox, is politically democratic but psychologically, it is perceived as totalitarian.
Europe needs to take the initiative, and it should come from Germany and Spain, considering the histories of those two countries. Especially in Spain and in Germany, Jews have experienced both beauty and horror. Both countries entertain healthy relations with the Arab world and thus have the obligation, and also the moral authority, to inaugurate a new peace initiative. Indeed, one should not forget the etymology of the terms for the two segments of the Jewish population: ashkenazy means "German", sephardic "Spanish." Now that Spain has recently elected a new government, the way has been paved for future cooperation. In any case, we should ask ourselves: Aren't we all too passive? Each and everybody is hiding, each is concealing the place where his heart beats.

Conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim will perform in public in Ramallah and Jerusalem in early May before accepting, together with Mstislaw Rostropowitsch, the "Wolf Foundation Prize in the Arts" in the Knesset.

Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung No.92, Wednesday, April 21, 2004 , pg. 13.

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