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Václav Klaus: A Few Words on the Situation in and around Israel

English Pages, 12. 10. 2023

I don't want to make my - entirely voluntary - task of writing a regular Friday note every week any easier by choosing an escape topic. Right now, the topic of the so-called austerity package in the Chamber of Deputies, which is due to be debated today, was a potential candidate. This week, however, I must and want to write about my feeling of despair about the situation in and around Israel and my sadness at the huge and growing number of casualties on both sides of the conflict that has flared up in recent days.

I know that to discuss this issue is extremely difficult and risky. Any question mark or doubt about it will be evaluated not through the eyes of today, but through the eyes of the Nazi mass murder of Jews in World War II. This blocks any productive discussion. No one prefers to say anything.

One of the headlines during last Wednesday's Czech TV broadcasting was "Israel's war with Hamas". This is extremely misleading. I believe that it should say Israel's war with the Arab world and, quite symmetrically, the Arab world's war with Israel. Narrowing it down to Hamas is not a mistake or an oversight, but a deliberate shift in interpretation of what is going on.

Yes, for almost eighty years the Arab world has not come to terms with the creation of the State of Israel and the displacement of the indigenous inhabitants of its territory to neighbor countries. This is a sad reality. I wish it were not. Someone said to me this week that if Germany had not accepted the expulsed people after the war and left them in camps near our borders, we would have a similar problem today. I disagree. The Germans (not just Hitler) were guilty of something and the expulsion was part of the retaliation.

The Palestinians did not start a world war, they were merely living in a territory that the world, the international community, the UN, or the, that time powerful decided would be the site of the new State of Israel. This, too, has become a reality, which has its consequences. These are the insane murder of babies in Israeli kibbutzim in recent days, on the one hand, and - and this is the wording I am referring to now - the 'cleansing' of Gaza, on the other.

Can a journalist in the public media of a democratic state, which the Czech Republic is, talk about the cleansing of a city of two million people? Is this journalist not 'wounded by blindness', to recall the Czech title of Huxley's famous novel, which was originally called 'Eyeless in Gaza'. Has Gaza been forever cursed by fate?

Almost eight decades ago, the powerful that be of this world came to an agreement, and on that basis, in 1948, the State of Israel was established. Do not the today´s powerful, which are not the same as in the 1940´s, but the "new" powerful of today's multipolar world, the powerful of a digitized world with instantaneous, 24-hour-a-day television news, the powerful that have the money to supply destructive military technology to both sides of a conflict (as is the case in today's Ukrainian war), also need to come to an agreement? If these powerful are incapable of doing so on their own, shouldn't we, the non-powerful, tell them it strongly and adamantly?

Are we, in our long-ago unsovereign Czech Republic, playing a constructive and dignified role in this? Is it most important right now to have a controversy among the members of the government about which city the Czech embassy in Israel should be in? Moreover, knowing that its eventual shift from today means unambiguous support for one side of this tragic conflict?

I dare not ask any more questions, this is more than enough. But we should not be hurt by blindness or extreme insensitivity. It is not worthy us.

Václav Klaus, October 12, 2023, originally in Czech.


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