Ladies and Gentleman,
i suppose I must first tell
you who I am.
I was born in Germany 76 years ago.
As an impressionable child, I witnessed the rise to power of the Nazi
movement. As a schoolboy, I experienced the Third Reich for half a year,
but then my father, with unusual foresight, took us to Palestine and
saved our lives. All my relatives, who ridiculed my father's fears,
disappeared in the Holocaust. No wonder, then, that throughout my life I
devoted much thought to the basic questions: How does it happen that a
civilized nation chooses a genocidal maniac as its leader, when does
nationalism become converted into fascism, in what circumstances do the
demagogues of hatred flourish.
In Germany we were rich, in
Palestine we were poor as church mice, or rather synagogue mice. I left
school at the age of 14, never to return. When I was 15, I joined an
underground organization fighting against the British colonial regime.
They called us terrorists. Since then I know exactly the difference
between terrorists and freedom-fighters: freedom-fighters are on my
side, terrorists are on the other.
During the great Jewish-Arab war of
1948, when the State of Israel was born, I served as a commando soldier
and was severely wounded. Since then, the fight for peace has become the
central theme of my life.
After the war I created a weekly
news-magazine which became a thorn in the flesh of the Israeli
establishment. We fought for Israeli-Palestinian peace, human rights,
social justice, the rights of the Arab minority in Israel and the
separation between religion and state. I served as its editor-in-chief
for 40 years.
In 1965, we founded a peace party
and I was elected to the Knesset. I served for 10 years. One of my main
subjects was the need to recognize the rights of the Palestinian people
and help it to create the State of Palestine, side by side with the
State of Israel. At the time, that was something between madness and
high treason. But we established contacts with the Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO). During the Lebanon war of 1982, I crossed the
front-line into besieged Beirut and became the first Israeli to meet
Yassir Arafat. Now I am the chairman of Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc), the
most militant Israeli peace organization, engaged in a daily fight
against occupation and for reconciliation between Israel and Palestine.
Perhaps this explains why I
hesitated before accepting the invitation to come to this beautiful
town. Actually, this beautiful town is the problem.
As you notice, the chairs of your
Israeli colleagues are empty. They have decided not to take part, in
protest against your decision to hold the conference here, in Austria,
in spite of the fact that the government of this country now includes
the party of Mr. Haider. They very strongly urged me to follow their
example. Indeed, they were quite furious when I rejected this advice.
I have come here - not because I
ignore the dangers represented by Mr. Haider, but quite on the contrary,
because I am extremely worried and want to express these worries on
Mr. Haider is the arch-type of the
kind of politicians who have created such immense misery during the 20th
century, a century in which 180 million human beings have been destroyed
by other human beings. We, who have lived in that sick century, must do
everything possible to prevent the transmission of this disease into the
This is the kind of politicians,
who base their careers on hatred - hatred of foreigners, of minorities,
of the "other". Politicians who follow the maxim of Dr. Goebbels: "Again
we must appeal to the lowest instincts of the masses."
I don't care what Mr. Haider says.
I am not going to analyse his every utterance, to see if he really
praised Adolf Hitler or only his labor policies ("Arbeit macht frei!"),
whether he hates Jews or only Slaws. There is a certain tone, a certain
smell, that is easily recognizable. Perhaps Jews recognize it a little
bit earlier than others. After all, we have many centuries of
experience. We have learned to see the danger a little bit before
everyone else does.
Haider is an Austrian, but there
are Haiders everywhere. There are French Haiders, German Haiders,
Russian Haiders, American Haiders, yes - sad to say - even Israeli
Haiders. Each of us, in his own country, must fight against his own
What, then, is so special about the
Austrian Haider? First of all, in Austria a world-wide taboo has been
broken. This party has become a part of government. It has been
legitimized. A sign has been given to all xenophobic, neo-fascist and
chauvinist parties in Europe: You are now salonfaehig. The yellow
flag of quarantine, the flag that says "danger, infectious disease on
board", has been taken down.
It is doubly shocking that this has
happened in Austria. We cannot forget that Adolf Hitler was an Austrian,
that this beautiful town once was full of Swastika flags, that this flag
of genocide probably waved over this graceful palace too. In Austria,
every sign of racist hatred of foreigners and minorities must arouse
Democratic elections? Hitler, too,
was elected democratically. Power was handed to him on a platter - in
German you could perhaps say "in einer Schuessel".
If so, should we boycott Austria? I
don't think so. On the governmental level, yes. But on the
people-to-people level, no. The fight against Haider and his allies
concerns all of us. But the main battle-ground is here, is Austria, and
in the forefront of this fight are all those brave and wonderful
Austrians who cry out, protest, demonstrate and act week after week. I
want to salute them. By staying away we do not encourage them. We must
come here and join their fight.
Adolf Eichmann was an Austrian, but
so was Sergeant Schmidt, a Wehrmacht soldier who was executed for
helping Jews in the Holocaust. Last month. an army barracks in Germany
was re-named after him. Haider is an Austrian, but so was Bruno Kreisky,
the Jewish Kanzler elected and re-elected by the Austrian people.
Some of my Austrian friends say
that in a perverse way, the Haider episode did some good, too. The tired
democratic forces in Austria have come to new life. The alarm sounded
throughout Europe is creating a new political awareness. Perhaps one
could quote the devil in Goethe's Faust who said: "I am a part of the
power that always want the evil and always creates the good."
Of course, one can ask why we
should interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. The
answer is found in the Bible, when Cain asked God: "Am I my brothers
keeper?" Yes, each of us is his brother's keeper. Too many times, during
the murderous 20th century, genocide was made possible by the
false doctrine of sovereignty and non-interference. The genocide of the
Armenians, the Jews, the Cambodians, the Soviet and Chinese victims, the
people of Ruanda and so many, many others.
Only at the end of the century, in
Kossova, a new doctrine has emerged: interference in the internal
affairs of a sovereign state is not only permissible, it is obligatory,
when human rights are concerned. I am ready to take part in any fight
for such rights everywhere, whether the oppressed are Kurds, Kossovars
or Chechnians. In the same spirit, I call upon all people of good-will
to help us in our fight for justice and peace in my own country.
An ancient Hebrew text found near
the Dead Sea speaks of the universal fight between the Children of Light
and the Children of Darkness. This fight is still raging everywhere, in
every country. It is a world-wide fight, and the Children of Light
everywhere belong to the same army, as do the Children of Darkness. I am
standing here, on Austrian soil, to testify to this.
Some of you may think that this is
besides the point of this conference. I don't think so.
Haider and the likes of him are
mutations of nationalism. Nationalism is the dominant political culture
of our age. Speaking about "Cities in Global Change", the changing
meaning of nationalism is an important subject. It certainly has a
profound influence on architecture and town-planning.
Let me voice some thoughts on
nationalism. Initially, it was a positive force, a necessary step in
It is a basic human need to
"belong", to be a part of a "we" and be proud of it.
Throughout history, the character
of the "we" has changed. At different times "we" was a clan, a tribe, a
city-state, a kingdom, an ethnic-religious community like the Jews, a
feudal order, a monarchy. For the last two or three hundred years, "we"
is the nation.
In my opinion, the emergence of the
nation as a spiritual and material entity at that point in time was not
accidental. It filled both a psychological and a practical need.
Psychologically, it took the place of tired religions. It provided a new
total concept. Practically, the development of economic and military
technologies made the formation of big national states necessary, and
the new mass culture made such a state feasible. Corsica or Brittany
could not defend themselves anymore, nor could they create their own
economy. Big armies and big markets were needed. They had to merge in
France and become parts of the "imagined community" of the French
nation. A Corsican with an Italian name, Napoleone Bonaparte, shaped the
destiny of France. The same happened to Bavarians in Germany, Lombards
in Italy, Scots in Great Britain.
The 20th century has
seen both the power of nationalism and its evil mutations. No force has
been able to overcome nationalism - neither internationalist socialism,
nor communism, nor religion, nor the SS ideology of an Aryan race.
Communism succeeded when it combined with nationalism, such as in
Vietnam and Cuba. Religion prospers where it is allied to nationalism,
such as in Iran or Poland. Fascism, of course, was an evil mutation of
Today, at the beginning of the 21th
century, we witness a fundamental contradiction. Nationalism as a
spiritual force is as strong as ever. But the nation-state as an
economic, military and even cultural reality is rapidly becoming
obsolete. No nation-state can defend itself alone nor live in economic
isolation. The answer to this development is the regional super-state,
like the European Community.
This was made easier by the
catastrophes of the century, the two world-wars and the Nazi madness,
all caused by the horrible exaggerations of a nationalism run wild. A
true nationalist, one would think, is a person who respects other
nations as he wants other nations to respect his. Sometimes we see this
kind of attitude on the football field.
The new super-national regional
structures could have become unified states. However, Charles de Gaulle,
a nationalist par excellence, insisted on the principle of
"Europe of the Fatherlands", an association of nation-states, each with
its own flag, government and football team. I think that he was right.
It made the creation of the new Europe much easier. Only now, fifty
years later, the idea of an European federation dares to raise its head.
Interesting enough, the United
States jumped over this phase altogether. The original 13 colonies could
easily have become 13 nation-states on the European (or South American)
model, perhaps in a loose confederation. Instead of American nationalism
we could have had Californian or Virginian nationalism. By choosing the
federal model and turning the whole federation into a quasi-nation, the
United States made a short cut that made it the world's first
super-power. The Soviet Union tried to create such a model and failed.
One important, if odd, result of
the new regional structures is that while the European Union, for
example, becomes bigger and bigger, a kind of provincial nationalism
becomes stronger and stronger. Actually, these two processes compliment
each other. When economic and military functions move from the nation
state to the regional structure, the nation-state created by compulsion
is put in doubt. If the real power moves from Paris to Brussels, why
must Brittany and Corsica accept the hegemony of Paris? Why must Basques
and Catalans accept a unitarian Spanish state, why must rich Lombardy
pay for poor Sicily, why must Scots and Welshman remain in a United
Kingdom? Why can't all these peoples become direct members of the
European Union, like Austria?
If we look into the future, we
perceive that even the regional structures are rapidly becoming obsolete
before they achieve full status. The markets are global, production is
global, the weapons of mass-destruction can reach the remotest corners
of the world, communications are global, we all speak English on the
internet. One young man in the Philippines can destroy computer programs
from Alaska to Zimbabwe. A hole in the ozone layer, we are told, changes
the climate around the globe. One nuclear accident can affect dozens of
countries. One disease, Aids, can spread from one spot and become a
world epidemic. Peace becomes a worldwide concern, multi-national
peace-keeping forces serve in many places.
I believe that before the end of
the 21th century, a wold-wide order, a quasi-world-government, will be
in place. The United Nations will change radically, or some other
world-structure will take its place, leading towards a world parliament,
a binding international law enforced by effective international
law-enforcement. Today this sounds utopian, but it is less utopian than
the idea of European federation was in the beginning of last century. I
wish I would be around to see it. (I rather doubt it.)
How does this effect cities and
I hardly dare to talk about such
subjects in this august company. I am not a perfect layman, but only
because nothing in the world is perfect.
Some of my thoughts may sound banal
Cities, as you know much better
than I, are mirrors of the ideas of their time and place. They express
Zeitgeist, they are Ideas cast in stone and cement.
I feel that there is something like
the "soul" of a city. Thinking about Paris, for example, even before I
see before my inner eyes the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysees, I
sense the spirit of the city, an ambiance, an atmosphere that makes it
different from all other cities I know. The same goes not only for
London and Sankt Peterburg, but also for Salzburg and Smolensk, Naples
and Toledo. I don't know what it consists of, or how it came about.
Vienna, I am told, was a hundred
years ago the embodiment of a multi-ethnic monarchy. Czechs were a very
big minority in the city, Jews had their quarters, Hungarian and Polish
magnates built their palaces there. It produced a whole cluster of
geniuses, a Freud and a Wittgenstein. It also produced a Hitler and a
Herzl, the founder of modern Jewish nationalism, called Zionism. I feel
that something of this ambiance is still there, a tension between the
multi-ethnic and the nationalist.
Berlin was the embodiment of the
Prussian-inspired second Reich. Hitler and Speer, in a crazy attack of
actual town-planning, shaped the model of a grandiose capital for a
megalomaniac, genocidal empire. Now it is becoming, so I am told, the
embodiment of a new multi-cultural era, with architects from all over
the world converging on the Potsdamer Platz to turn their ideas into
buildings, a clear example of new political, spiritual and economic
facts changing the face of a city. Only a few years ago, the Berlin wall
was a symbol of a very different world.
I live in Tel Aviv, which prides
itself of being the ugliest city in the world, ugly and alive. But an
hour's drive from where my apartment, the city of Jerusalem is the
embodiment of all the problems of our time. A beautiful city, a city
with a past like no other, is torn apart by extreme nationalist
passions. Two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, claim it as their
exclusive capital, three great religions claim it as their holy place.
While all proclaim the unity of Jerusalem, an invisible border, known
and felt by everyone who crosses it, divides the city into two. The
Israeli half is again divided by an unseen border between orthodox and
secular Jewish quarters, which detest each other.
Of course, throughout its 5000
years of history, Jerusalem was hardly ever a city of peace. It has been
conquered more than 80 times, and each conqueror left his mark in stone,
hoping to establish eternal possession by building. Thus some of the
most beautiful architectural gems in the world, like the Ottoman
Damascus gate and the Arab Dome of the Rock, were created.
Today, architects and town planners
of both sides have become soldiers in a merciless war over the city,
destroying its beauty by building heaps of ugly housing in order to
create demographic "facts on the ground", all in the name of "love of
Jerusalem". It's the kind of love Cannibals have for tender children.
My friends and I have created a
vision of a united Jerusalem serving as the capital of two states,
Israel and Palestine, and becoming, perhaps for the first time in its
history, a Capital of Peace.
I would like to read to you the
text of a manifesto which we published in 1995 under the headline "Our
Jerusalem is ours, Israelis and
Palestinians - Muslims, Christians and Jews.
Our Jerusalem is a mosaic of all
the cultures, all the religions and all the periods that enriched the
city, from earliest antiquity to this very day - Canaanites and
Jebusites and Israelites, Jews and Hellenes, Romans and Byzantines,
Christians and Muslims, Arabs and Mamelukes, Othmanlis and Britons,
Palestinians and Israelis. They and all the others who made their
contribution to the city have a place in the spiritual and physical
landscape of Jerusalem.
Our Jerusalem must be united,
open to all and belonging to all its inhabitants, without borders and
barbed-wire in its midst.
Our Jerusalem must be the
capital of the two states that will live side by side in this country -
West Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel and East Jerusalem the
capital of the State of Palestine.
Our Jerusalem must be the
Capital of Peace.
850 prominent Israelis, including
most of the important writers, poets, artists, academics and peace
activists have signed this petition.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you see, I believe that architecture is not just
an esthetic or practical function. I believe that it can become an
instrument of evil, as it can become an expression of the most lofty
ideals. It can lift up the human spirit, inspire and be inspired by its
aspirations. With this in mind, I wish you a successful conference.
May this gathering in Salzburg, on
Austrian soil, be another contribution to the fight against hatred and
discrimination, for peace, social advance and beauty.