To Raise the Voice in View of the Massacre in Gaza

Today, to raise one's voice, in view of the massacre perpetrated in Gaza is, and I write this with conscience, France's duty.
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Today, to raise one's voice, in view of the massacre perpetrated in Gaza is, and I write this with conscience, France's duty. France, whose commitment to the existence and the security of Israel is unwavering, but who, at the same time, cannot neglect the rights and duties of Israel in its quality as a nation state. I appeal to all those who are tempted to recoil in the face of the perennial return to war: now is time to speak and to act. It is time to measure the dead end in which France finds itself, aligned and so certain of the merits of force as recourse. It is time to pull off the veil of lies, of omissions and of half-truths, to support the hope for change.

Whether because of guilt, ill-conceived interest or submission in face of the toughest, France's own voice has perished; the voice which impelled General de Gaulle to speak out in the wake of the Six Day War; the voice which drove Jacques Chirac to cry out the morrow of the second intifada. Today, how are we to understand France's call for "restraint" when children are knowingly being killed? How are we to understand when France abstains as an international investigation is weighed on the crimes of war committed by both sides? How are we to understand when, from the mouth of its president, France's initial reaction is one which unreservedly supports the security policy of Israel? France is in a blind alley with its adapting spirit and the support of the use of force.

I believe that truth alone can justify action. We will not build peace on lies. This is why we are duty-bound to truth in the face of a conflict in which each word is loaded and the most contemptible accusations are exploited.

Let us have the courage to declare a first truth: International law does not give a right to security which engages, in return, a right to occupy and even less so, a right to massacre. There is a right to peace, and that right is the same for all peoples. The security which Israel seeks today, is done so against peace and against the Palestinian people. Instead of a search for peace, there is but a spiral of force which heads toward perpetual war with varying intensity. Israel condemns itself to repeated confrontations in Gaza or in the West Bank because it condemns the Palestinians to backwardness and suffering. Terrifying strategy because, little by little, it condemns Israel to becoming a segregationist, militaristic and authoritarian State. It is the spiral of South Africa under apartheid -- before Frederik De Klerk and Nelson Mandela -- wrought by violent repression, fear and the debasing Bantustans. It is the spiral of French Algeria between the putsch of the generals and of the bombings of the Secret Armed Organisation (OAS) as opposed to the side of peace embodied by de Gaulle.

There is a second truth to declare forcefully: There can be no collective responsibility of a people for the acts of certain groups or individuals. How can we forget the depth of the imbalance of the situation; one which does not oppose two states, but, rather, a people, landless and hopeless, against a state which is driven by fear? One can not take pretext of the fact that the civilians are exploited by Hamas in order to obliterate the fact that they are the ones that are killed, even less so it has been denied to acknowledge that those very civilians voted for Hamas in 2007, or at least for one of its political branches. Other than the United States, could there be one single country in the world to act thus? Though the situations are, of course, vastly different, did France go to war in Algeria in 1995-1996 after the attacks financed by the Armed Islamic Group (GIA)? Did London bomb Ireland in the 1970s?

One cannot fail to note a third, tongue-burning truth which I want to state: Yes, there is terror in Palestine and in the West Bank. An organized, methodical terror, systematically applied by the Israeli armed forces as has been testified by numerous Israeli officers and soldiers disgusted by the role which they had been given. I cannot accept hearing that what is happening in Palestine is not that serious and that it would be worse elsewhere. I cannot accept that an entire people has been condemned to fear and bombing, to the stench of "dirty water" and the misery of the blockade. I cannot accept the denial that something transcends our differences - our common humanity.

Today, we have no peace plan or an interlocutor capable of proposing one. We have to start from scratch. The problem of peace, as was the case in Algeria between 1958 and 1962, is not "how?" but "who?"

There is no interlocutor in Palestine because the fighters for peace have been systematically marginalized by the strategy of the Israeli government. Yesterday's logic of force legitimized Hamas against the Fatah. Today's legitimizes the most radical forces of Hamas, or even, the Islamic Jihad. To do without a partner for peace is accepting a logic leading towards submission or elimination.

There are no more partners for peace in Israel, because the peace militants have been marginalized and reduced to silence. The people of Israel are a people of memory, pride and courage. But today a crazy logic has overtaken their state, a logic which leads to the loss of the possibility of a two-state solution, the only conceivable one. A resigned segment of the Israeli population is today's primary threat. Amos Oz, Zeev Sternhell or Elie Barnavi are increasingly alone, crying in the desert, their voices drowned by the roar of the helicopters.

Nor are their partners on the international scene because of the many buried peace plans and the resulting weariness and resignation. We question the usefulness of the Quartet. We despair at the Europe checkbook diplomacy which limits itself to paying for the reconstruction of Palestinian buildings which were bombed yesterday and which will be bombed again tomorrow, while the United States spends two billion dollars annually to finance the bombs that destroy those very buildings.

Given the absence of a peace plan, only imposed measures capable of changing the general trend are susceptible to reawaken the partners out of their torpor. This is absolutely the responsibility of France.

Tool number one: Sanctions, to wake up the Israeli society. It needs to face its historical responsibilities before it is too late, particularly at this time, when a large scale military ground operation is being considered in Gaza. This is done by a vote of the UN Security Council with a resolution condemning Israel's actions, its non-compliance with prior resolutions, its non-compliance with human rights and the laws of war. Concretely, applying targeted and calibrated economic sanctions, particularly to activities directly linked to the operations in Gaza or to those activities in the colonies. I don't believe in sanctions against authoritarian states, which they reenforce, but I believe that they can be effective in a democratic society which needs to be confronted with reality.

Tool number two: International justice. The urgency today is to prevent war crimes. To achieve this, it is high time the right to be affiliated to the International Court of Justice, the best guarantor of international law today, be given to the Palestinians. By doing this, the Palestinian Territories come under international protection.

Tool number three available to the international community: an interposition force. In the absence of a possible negotiated solution, one must be imposed by a UN mandate in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem with an administration and an international peacekeeping force. We know that this administration would be in great danger from all across the extremist spectrum, but peace demands sacrifices. Its goals would be to restructure the economy and society in these territories with a substantial aid plan, as well as to protect civilians. Also, to resume the inter-Palestinian dialogue and guarantee free elections on the whole of its territories. With strength gained in these areas, it would promote peace negotiations with Israel and draft the outlines for these.

We do not have the right to resign in the face of perpetual war because it will continue to contaminate the whole region; its poison will not cease to shatter hopes for world order. One single injustice tolerated is sufficient to challenge the idea of justice itself.

This post was first published in Le Figaro newspaper on Friday, August 1.

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