My father was born in Germany on December 9, 1940. The Second World War ended on September 2, 1945. I was born 30 years after World War II. We both learned in school that the Holocaust caused by our German ancestors was an atrocity. Anyone who did not conform to the Nazi ideal was harmed or killed.
I remember that the courses in history, German, politics, and social sciences were all focused on teaching us that this violence against individuals, groups, or societies is unacceptable. It is forbidden! No one shall be harmed. All shall live free from harm. In my memory, we were taught these lessons over and over again throughout high school.
My family and I live it! We look out for each other. We network and build friendships with all kinds of people, especially across religions and nationalities. We travel, listen, and share.
It was and is very important to us that atrocities like the Holocaust, genocide, war, oppression, and all forms of violence do not happen again. At least not by our hands. We will not be part of it. We don’t want to harm people.
We take it to the streets and politics. We vote for democratic parties, hoping and trusting that these people represent and uphold our values. We make it possible for young people and adults to experience peace and friendship. We strengthen peace!
In February of 2023, I revisited Yad Vashem. Walking through Yad Vashem reinforces my thoughts of „Never again!“ Never again shall anyone experience hunger, thirst, disease, pain, loss of income, loss of shelter, loss of security, loss of trust, or loss of family members. No one shall engage in terrorism. No one shall harm others, kill, or be killed.
Violence only begets violence. More violence leads to more violence.
Nothing justifies the Hamas attack on Israel. The terrorist attacks were and are shocking.
The response of the Israeli government and military is also shocking.
What is happening in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank is not okay.
„Minister Yoav Gallant ordered all water, food, electricity, and gas in Gaza to be cut off“ (Le Monde with AP and AFP, 9.10.2023, 12:19 pm).
Collective punishment is underway. More than a thousand people have been killed in Israel. Thousands are killed in Gaza. Hundreds are killed in the West Bank. Individuals are being killed in South Lebanon. In southern Gaza mass starvation is on its way and if it is not hunger, a bomb or a bullet that kills, it will be a disease.
When I was young, we thought that everyone should ask their families, „How could you let the Nazis happen? Did you not see this violence coming? What did you do to oppose it?!
Now I am almost 50 years old. I feel helpless and sick. I condemn the violence of the terrorist groups, be it Hamas, Hezbollah, or others. I condemn the violence of the Israeli government, the military, security agencies, and settlers.
I feel helpless because I cannot do what I hoped that my ancestors should have done.
I fear for the well-being, sanity, and lives of my friends in Israel and Palestine.
I fear that this collective punishment will lead to massive loss. Loss of lives and sanity. Who will be still sane after surviving this atrocity in Gaza?
I write these sentences because I care about you who read them.
We must all choose peace.
As we experience it in Europe, peace is not the absence of violence. It is the desire and the effort to be friendly with each other.
I believe that peace is possible: everywhere!
Peace is a choice.
Peace is negotiation and friendly action.
Peace is communication.