Refuting the Eu’s Der Leyen

Salman Abu Sitta
Tuesday 16 May 2023

Salman Abu Sitta pens an open letter to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen

29 April 2023
Your Excellency,
You made a speech this week praising the establishment of Israel on its 75th anniversary. For someone in your position, it is surprising how many factual errors, misguided judgement, violation of international law and deviation from basic norms of justice that statement had.

You congratulated Israel on 75 years of existence on a land area of 20,500 km2, which is 78 per cent of Palestine. Not one square kilometre of this area was obtained by legal or just means. Six per cent was obtained through the treacherous British collusion and 72 per cent by military conquest. How could you congratulate a regime which obtained this land by spilling innocent blood?

Israel has no borders, neither by international law nor by its own devising. The Armistice Agreement of 1949 confers no legal title on any border. Which Israel are you congratulating? Is it in the land occupied by Israel in 1948, or in 1967? Not a single line in the relevant UN resolutions would support your views.

You congratulate Israel on its “dynamism, ingenuity and groundbreaking innovations”. I ask you, if you gather the best of German scientists and locate them in Madagascar, where you let them kill the people of the island and set up the best laboratory of the world, can that be considered a scientific achievement?

Einstein did not discover the Theory of Relativity because he was Jewish or  Swiss; he discovered it because he was a brilliant scientist. To his credit he also rejected the idea of Israel and condemned the Jewish massacre of Deir Yassin.

Your European governments poured billions of Euros into Israel for “scientific research” under the EU-Israel Association. The agreement contained a clause requiring Israel to abide by human rights in the conduct of research. But Germany and Holland actually waived this clause when Israel asked them to.

Your Israel did not waste time. Its arms industry company Elbit sold weapons of mass destruction to many countries, spreading death and destruction in many parts of the world.

The prime victim is our people in Gaza. In four Israeli wars against Gaza in the last six years alone, not only were Elbit products used to kill women and children, but Elbit operators were in the field guiding Israeli soldiers on their use.

People of good conscience in the UK protested against that and demonstrated against Elbit in England. Similar people in Germany protested against Elbit but your government jailed them for doing so. Is this the Israeli science you celebrate?

You also say, “Israel made the desert bloom.” And it becomes clear that you fell into the trap of Israeli propaganda. With your government capabilities, you could have done a better job.

The area of the southern district is 12,500 km2. Israel irrigated at best 800 km2. The remaining 94 per cent was and is still desert. The irony is that the irrigation water is stolen from the West Bank and Golan Heights. All the stolen water used in agriculture produces only 1.5 per cent of Israel GDP. Making “the desert bloom” is a myth. How can this escape you?

You have paid for your guilt for atrocities against your Jewish citizens in Palestinian blood. Your leaders flocked to Yad Vashim – erected in Palestine, not in Germany – to shed tears and ask for forgiveness. But none of your leaders had the moral courage to look at the opposite hill, three km away, at Deir Yassin and confront your hosts, the criminals who committed the massacre there.

You took no notice of the Israeli-run concentration camps and forced labour camps for captured Palestinian civilians in 1948, set up by your citizens who fled to Palestine, only three years after those camps were closed in Germany, even though they were reported by ICRC.

But the major defect in your speech is that you did not see the elephant in the room. You did not see or recognise Al-Nakba, the worst disaster in Palestine’s 4000 years history.

You did not mention the Zionist invasion by 120,000 European soldiers in nine brigades carrying out 31 military operations. This invasion depopulated 560 towns and villages through massacres, making refugees of two thirds of the Palestinian people. How can you escape this calamity? Do you not know of Palestine?

Go back to the mid 19th-century maps by your geographers Kiepert and Van de Velde, who will tell you about 1,200 localities in Palestine. You are a fluent French speaker. Go to the seven volumes of Victor Guerin describing every village in Palestine.

If you miss all that, you cannot miss the historical visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany to Palestinian Jerusalem on 31 October 1898. You cannot miss the voluminous scholarly work of Gustav Dalman about the Palestinian people.

With this knowledge, it is very sad, and indicative of the Western racism, that you should vote so frequently against inalienable Palestinian rights in the United Nations, invoking the sordid European history of colonialism.

Still, it is not too late. You can retract your words and actions and come back to the true path of peace and justice to Palestinians. They are the true heirs of Jesus Christ, after whom your political party was named.

A version of this article appears in print in the 18 May, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly