andreas hagenbach on Thu, 1 Apr 1999 22:07:20 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Dear Europe: From Uri Avnery

more material concerning Avnery and Gush Shalom/aah]

31. March 1999
Dear Europe: From Uri Avnery

I am happy about your decision to use power for the sake
of peace in Kosovo.  You have learned your lesson.
Sixty years ago, when the Nazis tormented German Jews
and threatened to exterminate all of Europe's Jewry, you
just stood by.  You said: "It is an internal matter."  You
said: "International law prohibits me from intervening."
Last week you put to a final rest this cynical argument.
You determined that it is permissible to interfere in the
internal  matters of a sovereign state which persecutes
a religious and national minority.  Even more than that:
you determined that it is an obligation to interfere.  For
this you should be blessed.60 years ago you sacrificed a
tiny nation -- the Czech people -- on the altar of peace
and convenience.  Tony Blair's predecessor, the British
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, stated that the
British are not prepared to spill their blood for a small
and distant country which they have trouble locating
on the map.  Those very same words can now be heard in
the U.S.  Not a single American soldier's life should be
put in harm's way for a country which most Americans
can't find on the map.  But the British nation has paid
an exorbitant price for that wretched line. If only
Britain and its allies had stopped Hitler at that time,
instead of signing the Munich Agreement, the lives of
tens of millions of people --including those of the six
million Jews -- would have been spared. 55 years ago,
neither Britain nor the U.S. were prepared to use their
planes to bomb the train tracks to Auschwitz. This week,
both sent their planes to bomb Serb installations used
in the genocide of Kosovars.  While this isnot enough --
I would like to see those powers recognize Kosovo
independence and arm the Kosovar freedom-fighters --
it is still a lot.
At that time, the Western leaders, Roosevelt and
Churchill, failed to do the most basic thing: to warn
the holocaust troopers that each of them -- from the
lowest to the highest levels -- would be tried for
crimes against humanity and would pay with their lives
for those atrocities.  This week I heard the British
Vice Premier utter this unequivocal warning in Parliament.
I particularly admire the European and U.S. governments
for undertaking this course of action, despite the fact
that Kosovo holds no particular strategic or any other
national self-interest to any of them.  To each soldier
who lays his life on the line in the skies over Yugoslavia,
our heartfelt thanks.
Too bad, dear Europe, that the same didn't happen two
generations  ago. But I am glad that it is happening now
and I bless you for it. What puzzles me is the condem-
nations for this action from many good people -- among
them some Leftists. International law?  Interference in
internal matters?  An unjustified use of power?  My
goodness, we are  talking here about the lives of hundreds
of thousands of people, about the genocide of the people
of Kosovo, about the destruction of towns and villages,
about the expulsion of hundreds of thousands, whose sole
crime consists of belonging to a different ethnic group.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to take part in a
 debate (on board a Japanese ship) with peace activists
from Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.  It was an
accelerated course which turned me into an enthusiastic
supporter of the right of the Albanian people of Kosovo for
national independence and most certainly for autonomy.
I am glad, dear Europe, that you, too, have recognized this
just demand. Of course I do not like the use of military
power. I dream of the day -- and it will come, even if I
may not get to witness it -- when there will be an inter-
national government, with its international court of justice,
and an international police force. Today, each state has a
court to adjudicate civil conflicts.  The police carry out
the court's sentence. Much blood had to be spilt for humanity
to reach this stage.  Tomorrow, a world-court will adjudicate
conflicts between nations and will enforce ist will. Then
will the people of Kosovo and East Timor, Kurds and
Palestinians be able to get their justice without bloodshed.
But that day is still very distant, and for now no oppressed
nation can hope to get ist justice without violence.  I am
happy that Europe is prepared to use force to save a persecuted
and oppressed people whose blood cries out from the ground.
And I would also like to thank you, Europe, for your courage
in recognizing the Palestinian people's right to declare their
state.  Most of the Israeli public knows well that there can
be no peace here without a Palestinian state, and hundreds
of intellectual leaders and peace activists have just signed
a manifesto right here in Israel recognizing this right.
I regret the gall of my Prime Minister -- the Israeli Milosevic
-- condemning your decision, while referring to the exter-
mination of a  third of the Jewish people "on European soil."
My lesson from the Holocaust is that we must never close
our eyes when a religious, ethnic or national minority is
oppressed in any "sovereign" state.  I am glad, dear Europe,
that you have learned this lesson.  My hat is off to you.

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