On the Israel-Palestine conflict
12 oktober 2023 | Thierry Baudet
A speech given by FVD party leader Thierry Baudet in the Dutch parliament on 11 October 2023.
Emotions are understandably running high as a result of the recent terrible events in Israel and Gaza. We too, of course, watched the images with horror.
It started last Saturday with a terror attack.
We saw horrifying images of innocent Israeli festival-goers being ambushed by Hamas fighters, hunted down and shot. Images of villagers being murdered and kidnapped. Normal citizens who lost their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters to blind hatred and violence. Horrifying.
But actually, of course, it didn't 'start' there at all; rather, it was a new chapter in a lingering, hopeless conflict, which has in fact been raging for decades (and actually for much longer), and in which it is not easy to pinpoint one completely 'wrong', and one completely 'right' party.
The human suffering to be lamented on both sides is incredibly painful. We sympathise with innocent Israelis and their relatives; we sympathise equally with innocent Palestinians and their relatives.
Moreover, we feel very uncomfortable with the binary choice imposed on us by the high emotions: if you don't 'unconditionally' support one side, you 'therefore' choose the other side; that image is created a bit, as if it were a football match, a computer game.
While, of course, it is about human lives on both sides that are to be regretted.
While, of course, it is human lives on both sides that are to be mourned. The fate of the Palestinians is truly dire, and you cannot possibly hold them collectively responsible for the crimes committed by their leaders - just as you cannot hold ordinary Israelis responsible for the crimes Israel commits towards the Palestinians. For decades, atrocities have been committed back and forth.
This involves a situation in which an awful lot is still unclear. What is fake news, what is real? What exactly happened? Who knew about it, who was involved?
Since the Iraq war - and the lies about 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' - we have learned that it is very dangerous to let ourselves be seduced into taking Big Positions and actions directly, on the basis of horrifying images or panic reports - and that, above all, we should not let ourselves be played off against each other, set up or fall into black-and-white enemy thinking.
Bombing Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11 did not make the Middle East better or move America forward. Expressing unconditional support for Ukraine did not help the hundreds of thousands of young boys who died, nor the millions of displaced Ukrainians. It was rash. It was simplistic right-wrong thinking after which the situation exploded completely.
Similarly, it seems to me that Israel is now shooting itself gigantically in the foot with the current extreme retaliatory operation. With the muscle language, the bombings, the "either you're with us, or you're against us" rhetoric.
It also puts the region, indeed the entire Middle East and even Europe, at great risk.
For this is an area that is highly explosive, where the flame could catch fire - possibly even leading to a world war. If Israel continues with its current acts of violence, with its large-scale retaliatory actions, a reaction from surrounding countries (including Iran) is likely to be unavoidable.
Then get the fuse out of the powder keg again. Even here in our countries, in Europe, where we have very significant Muslim populations, and where gigantic divisions could also emerge - or even already exist. Not to mention the migratory flows fuelled by a protracted war.
Mr President, all this is the reason why Forum for Democracy is taking an extremely cautious approach to this situation. We immediately called for de-escalation. It is intensely sad and hopeless, just at a time when peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia was imminent.
The Old Testament logic of retribution threatens to set in motion a vicious circle towards ever more bloodshed. Then perhaps the Christian, New Testament, 'Wir setzten uns mit Tränen nieder' (we set ourselves down in tears, we turn the other cheek) is wiser after all.
Let us express the hope that one day the Palestinians and Israelis can plant a seed which hopefully grows into a beautiful olive tree of peace.