German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel will learn far more from his meetings with B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence than from meeting with Netanyahu.
By Dahlia Scheindlin / +972 Magazine
April 25, 2017
“You never get the full picture of any state in the world if you just meet with figures in government ministries.”
Given an ultimatum of meeting with Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem or meeting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel very simply made the right choice to forego Netanyahu. And not in order to “defy” Netanyahu, as per a breathless Bloomberg headline, or to give any message at all.
He was right simply because what would he have actually learned from Netanyahu? Those organizations will give Gabriel concrete information: B’Tselem will update him on developments regarding the 50-year-old occupation and its most current manifestations, in the form of data, documentation and analysis. Breaking the Silence will give him human experiences of occupation, and tell the truth about growing attempts to intimidate and suppress the group for daring to oppose Israeli policies.
Now consider the meeting with Netanyahu. The two would probably have complimented each other on their great trade relations, something neither needs to see the other to know. Netanyahu, after all, got his submarines. On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu would have fed him saccharin promises and empty calories about how Israel yearns for peace, without admitting how satisfied society and government are with the status quo.
Netanyahu might have paid tight-lipped service to a two-state solution, while he and his government take all possible measures on the ground to abort a Palestinian state. Netanyahu might have read some tweets from COGAT, which, together with the Civil Administration, governs Palestinian civilian life through the military — perhaps tweets about how kind Israel is to let some trucks pass into Gaza.