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Lorena De Vita

In the second half of the 1950s, Bonn refused to establish official diplomatic relations with Israel – a seeming contradiction of its initial stance on the Jewish state. Worse still, in December 1959 an unprecedented number of anti-Semitic attacks orchestrated by Stasi agents took place across the Federal Republic, reigniting deep anti-German feelings among the global public and damaging West Germany’s public image (Ansehen) – right on the eve of the very first personal encounter between Chancellor Adenauer and David Ben Gurion. Yet while the option of diplomatic relations with Israel faded, covert cooperation in the fields of security and commerce intensified. Offering a fresh take on the issue, the chapter shows how the FRG managed to use its rivalry against the GDR to its own advantage – both to justify not establishing formal diplomatic relations with Israel as well as to deflect Arab suspicion regarding the actual degree and realms of cooperation between the Federal Republic and the State of Israel.

in Israelpolitik
Bert Ingelaere

The gacaca process was introduced in Rwandan society to deal with the legacy of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. Empirically informed research points to the ambiguous and ambivalent attitudes of participants regarding testimonial activities, namely the search for the truth. Hence the questions: what does the gacaca experience reveal about this elusive and multidimensional notion called ‘the truth’? And, what does ‘the truth’ as experienced by Rwandans reveal about the nature of the gacaca process? This article aims to answer these questions by identifying and qualifying the different styles of truth at work in the gacaca process, namely the forensic truth, the moral truth, the effectual truth and, the Truth-with-a-Capital-T. The first is a consequence of the design of the court system, the second is derived from the socio-cultural context, the third is a consequence of the decentralised milieu in which the gacaca courts were inserted, the fourth is the result of the overall political context in which the gacaca activities took place. This process of assembling these different styles of truths is conceptualised through the notion of agencement that captures the intricate interplay of agency and structure, contingency and structuration, change and organisation shaping the gacaca process.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps, Lasse Heerten, Arua Oko Omaka, Kevin O'Sullivan, and Bertrand Taithe

This roundtable took place on 16 January 2020, at the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war in Biafra. It brought together Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps, Lasse Heerten, Arua Oko Omaka and Kevin O’Sullivan. The roundtable was organised and chaired by Bertrand Taithe, University of Manchester.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
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German–Israeli relations between past and future
Lorena De Vita

The book closes with an epilogue that summarises the argument of the book and outlines the implications for our understanding of the Cold War and of the special relationship between Germany and Israel. It argues that the German–German Cold War was, from the start, deeply interlinked with the Arab–Israeli conflict, and that this overlap was far more complex, and had much wider repercussions, than is generally acknowledged. The epilogue also reflects on questions that transcend the content of the individual chapters, reflecting on post-genocidal international reconciliation and the weight of the past in international politics.

in Israelpolitik
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Lorena De Vita

Chapter 3 spells out the strategies put in place in each Germany to wage their Cold War in the Middle East. The chapter examines the intensifying East German efforts to drive a wedge between West Germany and its Arab partners; to use the question of the FRG’s readiness to pay reparations to Israel to galvanise the German population against the Luxembourg Agreement; and to resist Israeli demands that East Germany, too, pay reparations to the Jewish state. Special attention is also paid to two West German political manoeuvres: the efforts to placate Arab concerns on the economic and military strength of the State of Israel following the signing of the Luxembourg Agreement, and the use of the agreement as a tool to bolster West Germany’s claim to international legitimacy. The chapter challenges the view that Arab–Israeli and Cold War rivalries started intertwining following the 1955 arms deal between Nasser’s Egypt and Communist Czechoslovakia. In fact, as this and the previous chapter show, by the early 1950s the Arab–Israeli conflict and the German–German Cold War were already firmly entangled.

in Israelpolitik
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Lorena De Vita

The second part of the book commences with the Suez Crisis, and explores how the German–German and Arab–Israeli power struggles played out in the second half of the 1950s. Chapter 4 builds upon minutes of Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) meetings, analyses of the West German intelligence services (BND), and assessments of the US National Security Council. These documents show that, as domestic and international crises developed in the second half of the 1950s, each Germany found itself increasingly at odds with its respective superpower patron. This deeply influenced German policy-makers and their perceptions of each Germany’s international role. On the one hand, the consequences of the Suez Crisis spread insecurity among the West German political elite regarding the extent of the American readiness to protect the interests of its Western European partners. On the other hand, East German leader Walter Ulbricht became increasingly intolerant of the Soviet constraints on East German overtures to Middle Eastern partners. Thus, the GDR intensified its international propaganda campaign against West Germany, focusing especially on the West German–Israeli entente to woo Arab audiences, with mixed results.

in Israelpolitik
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Lorena De Vita

The first part of the book opens in the late 1940s. Chapter 1 traces the early discussions between future representatives of West Germany, East Germany and the State of Israel. From 1949 onward, the question of German reparations to Israel began to acquire ever greater significance. The chapter challenges the widely held assumption that East Germany was, from the outset, hostile to the State of Israel, and revises the general portrayal of West Germany’s readiness to pay reparations to Israel as a grand moral gesture. Indeed, the chapter emphasises the early openness of representatives of the Soviet occupation zone (until 1949, later the German Democratic Republic, GDR) to sustaining Israel’s efforts to integrate Jewish refugees from Europe in Palestine and places Adenauer’s declaration on the question of reparations within the wider context of the reintegration of many former Nazis inside West German political institutions, including the embryonic West German Foreign Ministry.

in Israelpolitik
Hakim Khaldi

How can we go about our work of saving lives when, in Syria, civilians, the wounded and their families, medical personnel and aid workers are all targets – whether in areas controlled by the government or those held by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or various rebel groups with diverging political agendas? Over the course of several field missions, the author of this article, a member of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), sought to decipher the political and military engagements undertaken in different regions of Syria during the war years. He also factored into his analysis the endless flow of data, information and positioning being produced and published over this period, because the war was also fought every day on the internet where the representatives and ideologists of warring groups, human rights organisations, Syrian diaspora organisations and spokespersons of the Syrian central authorities were and still are a permanent presence. Drawing on all these observations and data, the author relates and analyses the emergency relief activities carried out by MSF in Syria, how these activities evolved and the conditions in which choices to intervene and decisions to withdraw were taken.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
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Contextualising reconciliation
Lorena De Vita

The rapprochement between Germany and Israel in the aftermath of the Holocaust is one of the most striking political developments of the twentieth century. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently referred to it as a ‘miracle’. But how did this ‘miracle’ come about? Drawing upon sources from both sides of the Iron Curtain, this book reflects on the contradictions and dilemmas that shaped the making of German–Israeli relations at the outset of the global Cold War. The book is structured around a three-phase periodisation, from November 1949 to March 1955 (marked by Adenauer’s declaration that the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) was ready to pay restitutions to the State of Israel for the Nazi persecution of the Jews, and by the East German refusal to do the same); April 1956 to February 1960 (characterised by the entanglement of the German–German Cold War and the Arab-Israeli rivalries in the aftermath of the Suez Crisis); and finally from March 1961 to October 1969 (characterised by the Eichmann trial, the establishment of official diplomatic relations between West Germany and Israel and by East Germany’s attempts to galvanise the discontent of West Germany’s Arab partners). By breaking this twenty-year period into three different phases, the book identifies the major changes in East and West German policy-making and, in each phase, it analyses why they took place at that particular point, and how they affected the overall dynamics of German–Israeli relations, the Cold War, and of the Arab–Israeli conflict.

in Israelpolitik
Editors’ Introduction
Marc Le Pape and Michaël Neuman
Journal of Humanitarian Affairs