It changed completely. It soon became prosperous, trusted by its neighbours, the world's largest exporter and a model democracy. It is today a strong supporter of human rights both at home and abroad.
That country was of course Nazi Germany. In 1945 the cities were destroyed. In 1932 the people had brought Nazism into power by a democratic vote and lost democracy. The young were the most fervent Nazis. For more than a decade they had never known anything but Nazism.
If such an exemplary feat of change to democracy and human rights was possible in Germany, is it possible on the south coast of the Mediterranean? There the young people are in the first rank of those demanding democracy and human rights. They want a life like young Europeans have across the Mediterranean. That would seem a good start.
What is democracy? For Abraham Lincoln it was government of the people, by the people for the people. Schuman had a more incisive and scientific definition. He said:
What characterizes a democratic State are the objectives that it proposes and the means by which it seeks to achieve them. It is at the service of the people and it acts in agreement with the people.
For long years, the citizens of the countries from Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco have asked why they could not lead the same lives and have the same privileges as Europeans. They asked. Why did the Europeans not respond with the correct answer? It requires a good understanding about what 'service' means. In particular, what does it mean to serve peace?
Why did both sides of the Mediterranean not boom with the jobs, the industry and the innovation of Europe? Graduates come and work in Europe and the USA, but jobs are lacking at home. Why is illiteracy so high for much of the population?
Why can't the south throw their tyrants into prison for obvious violation of human rights? Why can't they put them on trial in court? To the north of the Mediterranean the French can bring a president to answer alleged abuse of power in court. To the east in Israel a prime minister or even a president can also land up in Court. Why does that not happen on the south side of the Mediterranean?
Why can't the North African countries also have the freedom to speak the truth in the press? Why are so much of their media, one-sided, full of propaganda, race hate, anti-Semitism and obvious lies? The south Mediterranean revolt showed that the problem was not Israel but their own leaders. The 'Palestinian problem' is largely a distraction imposed on their media by ruthless leaders wanting to divert their own subjugated, unemployed and often starving masses.
After World War 2 all of Europe faced far bigger problems. It entire economy was in ruins, balkanized by nationalism, as well as riven with hate and distrust. A crushed Germany was starving and no one, it seemed, cared. Why should they? The victors had rationed food. What was the way forward? They all knew one thing. Fundamental to a free society is freedom of thought in all subjects. That requires a process to develop balanced rules and procedures. Post-war Germany, drenched in Nazi propaganda, went through a short period of apprenticeship to reinforce these liberties with discipline. But it did not do it alone.
In the immediate postwar period Germany was occupied by the Allied armies. After a couple of years, the Allies led by the US encouraged local elections and then provincial elections.
Robert Schuman who became Prime Minister in 1947 encouraged this move that was contrary to the previous unrealistic Gaullist policy. De Gaulle wanted to control the Germans by the permanent occupation of Germany and the annexation of the land up to the Rhine. Constitutions for the provinces had to be forged. Then the heads of the provinces, the Minister-presidents, were allowed to make the first steps for the Constitution or Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany. This had provisions for safe-guarding human rights and fundamental freedoms.
For French leaders like Robert Schuman who knew nationalistic Germany well in peace and in war, this was not sufficient. Schuman initiated a process to create a new legal and political instrument -- Europe's first international parliamentary assembly and the Council of Europe. This was to be the framework body that was to create the Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. As he made clear in public speeches and at the United Nations, Germany was to have its own role in the organization provided it proved itself trustworthy of the removal of military controls.
Thus a strong framework was needed before the new Constitution was written and the respect for human rights was put in place. For Germany it was the Allied military force. Gradually this military security could be loosened as trust and confidence between the Germans and its former victims grew.
Schuman's analysis as French Prime Minister in 1947 has many parallels with the problems facing the southern Mediterranean today:
Governments are faced with grave and difficult material problems: food supply, production, salaries and prices. They see peace being compromised among the nations by prejudices of race, by the rivalry of force and the rivalry of interests. Inside countries, people are seeking the way to conciliate liberty with authority. They seek understanding between social classes.But is this all? Was it a matter of simply providing the systems and democracy would flourish? That had been tried. Nothing like this new era of European peace -- history's longest -- had happened after the previous wars. Was there another dimension? Clearly former Nazis would have been the first to subvert human rights. They would have undermined democracy and seized power.
To be able to reach such a result in all these fields, we certainly need studies and technical remedies, as well as the scientific development of material energies.
What happened? The first step was moral reform. Democracy cannot be built as a nest of crooks, fraudsters and mass-killers. This moral renewal was the first stage of creating the European Community. Robert Schuman was among the great leaders that supported this effort. When? Not years after the war but right after the war was finished. During the war he told his friends that reconciliation was necessary after the Allied victory -- which he said was certain. That took vision and strong courage in the postwar years when cities were still in ruins, when hate and revenge were rife and the populations were mourning their dead and tending their wounded.
Prime Minister Schuman said:
All these efforts, however, are insufficient and in vain if they do not stand on a solid moral foundation. The real source is the morality of the individual, of the family and of the State. And at the same time it is the guarantee of peace and wellbeing.Among those re-animating this moral re-armament was the Swiss center at Caux, where perhaps half of Europe's most active postwar leaders learned about reconciliation, honesty in politics and the home, selfless service and public and private morality. Resistance leaders confronted former Nazis about the future of their countries and Europe. Trade unionists and their bosses washed the dishes together. It was, said Schuman, a school for training Europe's statesmen and women by mutual initiation to create 'a moral climate favourable for a fraternal union.' He commended those who acted like 'apostles of reconciliation and workmen for a world renewed.'
The Swiss and their teams helped re-animate Europe's heart. To the shame of Europe's institutions, they have largely forgotten this important spiritual foundation of the European community. Yet without it, European reconciliation would not have happened. The institutions would not exist. Nor would democracy, human rights and the prosperity Europeans enjoy today.
What is the lesson for the southern Mediterranean? In Egypt six out of ten people say democracy is best for the country. But do they know what it means? Some 95% say that Islam should play a role in politics. Yet there is no Islamic country that of itself has created a democracy.
More than four out of five Egyptians say that Islamic apostates should face the death penalty. Tolerance is the necessary foundation of democracy. It is impossible for any Muslim to announce publicly his conversion to Christianity. Imagine indeed what explosion of emotion and violence would be unleashed if an Egyptian announced his desire to convert to Judaism.
Without real understanding of how democracy is founded Western leaders have too often acted naively towards the Mediterranean. They encouraged a so-called democratic vote among the Palestinian Arabs only to find themselves faced with what others saw as the obvious outcome: a gangster organization in charge. Gaza was taken over by a terrorist organization, Hamas. It is largely funded from Saudi Arabia with in the last few years hundreds of millions of euros coming from Iran.
This 'charity' organization of soup kitchens and AK47s then went about in declaring war against Fatah, killing them in the streets and humiliating any opponents to its rule. Its vowed intention in its constitution is the destruction of Israel.
This is what the EU naively reported after the Palestinian elections of January 2006:
'These elections were notable for the participation of candidates linked to extremist or radical groups that have advocated violence as a means to solving the problems in the Middle East. It is hoped that this participation is an indication of the movement of such groups towards engaging in a truly democratic process, which would be in fundamental contradiction with violent activity.' (my emphasis).
It is as if they were applauding the vote for the Nazi party and some other equally nasty fascists competing to seize power by the ballot box. Is it too much to remind them? Normal democracies do not encourage or involve warlike parties but political parties. Gangsters like Hitler made alliances, even submitted to elections, until they were powerful enough to take over and gaol or kill their opponents and critics. Real democrats must have forsworn violence. They must have said they would never use threats, blackmail, mobs, public hangings and torture. This report supposedly came from experienced politicians. Did Europe's politicians ever read what the Hamas stood for? It is on the EU list of terrorist organizations. Did they check up on Fatah? Do they analyze the Fatah media and its glorification of death?
Did they ensure that peaceful parties or groups that wanted to live and work with Israel were allowed to have a fair participation? Take one example. Did Europeans say loud and clear that they would have absolutely nothing to do with people who passed a decree to execute people who wanted to (horror of horrors!!!) sell a house to a Jew? What would the EU say if Jews declared that they would do exactly the same as the Arabs? Is the EU's silence and financial support the same as Hitler's policy to make the land Judenrein, (Free of Jews)? How disgusting can European foreign policy get?
Today even the majority of Arabs do not want to live under Fatah, the Palestinian Authority or Hamas -- if given a free choice. If ever there were an Arab Palestinian State only a quarter of those in East Jerusalem would move. Most wanted to stay Israelis or become Israelis. If that is a fact, why isn't the EU supporting them. These Arabs obviously know their own and the Israelis well. Do they want to live in Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia? No the majority of Arabs polled wanted to live in Israel where they at least have elementary freedoms, laws and justice equivalent to those of Europe.
Do European politicians lose all sense of Human Rights when it comes to countries associated with oil? Does the smell of petroleum addle their brains? Does this oil addiction render them blind and immoral?
Apparently so -- ever since the 1973 Middle East war when Saudi Arabia, OPEC and the Arab League insisted that the European Community countries must change their foreign policy or else they would suffer from an oil embargo. Actually the oil-exporters said the same thing in 1956. It remains a threat, especially with Iran heading OPEC.
Part of the 1970s oil embargo blackmail was that Europe would pay for the Palestinian Arabs. The Venice agreement also forced Europe into a dereliction of responsibility in encouraging violence not peace. Scrutinizing the ballot of two violent groups is not the way of peace. The EU fails to understand its own peace miracle and compounds the error by refusing to do even the most elementary investigation about the groups they were encouraging to gain power by the ballot box.
If you don't believe me that apparently sensible European democrats could encourage such dangerous nonsense, check what the peace partner, the PA, teaches its children: -- that 'Zionist gangs stole Palestine'. It broadcasts on TV and continues to publish maps without any trace of Israel on them.
Read the Hamas Charter. It states that
"Israel will exist, and will continue to exist, until Islam abolishes it, as it abolished that which was before it."
Note 'That which was before it.' That destruction programme would include Christianity in its sights. Egypt and north Africa were the home of major Christian communities before the arrival of the Islamic sword.
Article 2 of the Hamas Covenant reveals a plain contradiction to what representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood are saying in Egypt. There they say that would never hurt a fly and that no one will vote for them any way. Hamas declares that it is a jihadist-terrorist movement with a global agenda. It says that the Muslim Brotherhood is the mother of all such organizations.
The Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) is one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood movement is a global organization and is the largest of the Islamic movements in modern times.
The Islamic Resistance Movement welcomes every Muslim who embraces its creed, adopts its ideology, is committed to its way, keeps its secrets and desires to join its ranks in order to carry out the duty, and his reward is with Allah.
Hamas lays out its long-term, worldwide strategy as clear as possible. It is not peace.
Muslims who adopt the way of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) are found in all countries of the world, and act to support [the movement], to adopt its positions and to reinforce its jihad. Therefore, it is a world movement, and it is qualified for this [role] owing to the clarity of its ideology, the loftiness of its purpose and the exaltedness of its goals.
The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) is one link in the chain of jihad in confronting the Zionist invasion. It is connected and linked to the [courageous] uprising of the martyr 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam and his brethren the jihad fighters of the Muslim Brotherhood in the year 1936. It is further related and connected to another link, [namely] the jihad of the Palestinians, the efforts and jihad of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1948 war, and the jihad operations of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1968 and afterwards. Although these links are far apart, and although the continuity of jihad was interrupted by obstacles placed in the path of the jihad fighters by those who circle in the orbit of Zionism, the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. The Prophet, Allah's prayer and peace be upon him, says: "The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,' except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews." (Recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim).
It adds: Any measure which does not conform to this Islamic law regarding Palestine is null and void.
Europe helps pay for the education of the Gazan youth. What does it get: race hatred, lies and the incitement to another holocaust. What right has the EU to use the European taxpayer money for such infamy? Will it teach the truth of history? What about, for example, the Nazi Holocaust? Verboten. Just recently the Hamas regime declared that it will 'never allow Holocaust teaching to Gazan refugee children'. Thus they refuse to teach about one holocaust while in their own constitution inciting the whole Gazan population to a future Israeli Holocaust.
Gaza has become a client statelet of Iran, firing thousands of Qassam rockets and mortars into Israel whom it has declared its intention to destroy.
Now compare this with what fooled the naive democrats of the 1930s. Even though Hitler was astute in lies, twisting the facts and hiding his intentions, not everyone was fooled. Some analysts saw through the subtle clauses in his party programme. It was clear to them that he was about to murder many Jews, Christians and political dissenters. What was the evidence? The Nazi Party (NSAPD) wrote up their policy intentions in the following words of the Nazi party programme.
24. We demand freedom for all religious denominations, provided that they do not endanger the existence of the State or offend the concepts of decency and morality of the Germanic race.
The Party as such stands for positive Christianity, without associating itself with any particular denomination. It fights against the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us...
They understood it. Those words meant an end to religious dissent and the extermination of the Jewish race, the physically unfit and minorities. Today's politicians have no excuse. The programme of Hamas as part of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood and Fatah is much clearer. Iran's religious leaders keep repeating that their main goal in life is to destroy America, Israel and all infidels in Europe.
Yet for some curious reason Europe's politicians think they should give them the benefit of the doubt that they at really good boys and will not cause anyone harm. They seem to think like their naive grandparents that Hamas and others will like Hitler become good democrats after a ballot. They believe that a signed piece of paper will be a guarantee of good conduct.
Lesson: ignorance by so-called democrats about the roots and functioning of real democracy can lead to even worse situation where terrorism festers and war plans are hatched. Europe will get more than its fingers burned in the next Middle East war.
Can Europeans then realistically prevent a new war in the Middle East? What did Schuman do? As Foreign Minister, he pursued a policy that at one side encouraged the independence of the southern Mediterranean states then under France's control and ensured the survival of Israel as a democratic State.
There are basically two ways to ensure democracy in Egypt. One is to retain a major role for a neutral military that would maintain order, and retain the confidence of the people. A non-ideological force is required to keep terrorist-jihadists from gaining power.
Only when order and stability are maintained would the second stage be possible. That is the signing by the nascent Egyptian democratic parliament in conjunction with the stated will of the people of a Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms similar to Europe's. It could even make it clear that it would abide by the rulings of the judges in Strasbourg in the case of any dispute about democracy including religion.
Is that possible? Is that realistic? The answer must be Yes.
Why? Because the experiment has already been carried out with both the Nazi regime and the atheistic Communist regimes of the Soviet Union's orbit. Both Germany and Russia are now signatories of the Strasbourg Convention. That would have been written off as impossible in 1945 or 1946. Yet it happened.
Europeans need equal courage and faith in their democratic experiment. We have experience. It happened first because Statesmen and courageous members of the public thought it was just possible and they brought it into reality.
How should Europeans go about it today? Europeans should have learned that supporting and giving financial subventions to tyrants and dictators without a plan is not a good idea. If the European Union makes any further subventions to Egypt and the southern Mediterranean countries it should ensure that they make the first steps to democracy. What is that?
Firstly, religious tolerance. Democracy is based on Christian principles, according to Schuman. It involves the full respect of the other. Neither Nazism nor Communism can achieve this. For centuries Ireland was continually in a state of religious war and then it stopped Why? Ireland signed up to the Convention of Human Rights. Previously, strife was stoked up while one side or the other insisted that (1) religious discussions could not take place in peace; (2) religious information of the other side was forbidden; (3) conversion must take place before marriage of mixed couples. (This is clearly contrary to the principle of free religious determination.) (4) Children could be brought up according to sectarian rules not their free will.
Truth, and the freedom to search for truth are at the core of civilization. Specifically the freedom of religion and the ability to change one's religion are fundamental to a functioning democracy. Violence and the threat of violence must continue to be outlawed for religious discussions.
Among these rights must be the right to free information about religion without any group or individual inciting violence. It has been vitally important for Europe. The Mediterranean Litmus test must be the same as we apply to ourselves. In Ireland, it is no longer mandatory for Protestants to convert if they wish to marry a Roman Catholic. Nor must the children be forced to be educated as Roman Catholics. The same goes for those of the Roman faith in Protestant countries.
Secondly violence in politics should be outlawed. Freedom of information does not include incitement to violence and murder. Incitement to violence is a crime in democracies. That should be part of the EU's foreign policy. Should the EU be supporting a country where the Nazi propaganda like 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' and 'Mein Kampf' are recommended by the Muslim Brotherhood and in the mosques? Why aren't these institutions educating people about how to prove them to be (1) fraudulent and (2) ridiculous?
Europe must assure that its foreign policy is based on encouraging peaceful political parties. It must make sure that not a single cent goes to parties or groups that do not believe in the freedom of religion.