Ralph Lewin is President of the Swiss Association of Jewish Communities and the highest representative of Jews in Switzerland. In view of the attack on Israel, he speaks of a breach of civilization. Nevertheless, he believes that part of the population would be ready for dialogue again.
Ralph Lewin is still extremely shocked, even a week after Hamas’ attack on Israel. “What happened is unimaginable,” says the president of the Swiss Association of Jewish Communities (SIG). He doesn’t just mean the brutality of Hamas: it is also traumatic that the State of Israel was unable to protect the Jews.
This goes “very, very deep” among Jewish communities worldwide; after all, it is the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, says Lewin.
It is now clear to everyone that you cannot make peace with Hamas.
Against this background, he can also understand that Israel wants to “eliminate” Hamas after such an attack. Nevertheless, the question arises as to whether the two sides will have to break out of this logic of violence at some point. Because if Israel wants to “destroy” Hamas and conquer the Gaza Strip as announced, thousands of people could die.
“The current spiral of violence stems from an unprecedented terrorist attack. You can’t make peace with Hamas, that’s clear to everyone now,” says Lewin. In the current situation, demanding that Israel rely on de-escalation is “politically impossible.”
Nevertheless, Lewin also sees limits to Israel’s actions. He could not judge whether Israel’s closure of the Gaza Strip violated international humanitarian law, but Israel must also adhere to it and therefore take the civilian population into consideration.
A “thorny” process
And what about the basic peace process? “I have been dreaming of a peaceful solution since I was a student,” emphasizes the President of the Swiss Association of Israelite Communities. He also knows that the two sides have to approach each other again.
As a prerequisite for this, he mentions that the Palestinians need another interlocutor. If signals for a conversation come from there, he is convinced that part of the Israeli population will take up the conversation again, although after recent events this would be an extremely “thorny” process.
However, many also doubt whether it is possible to make peace with the Israeli government, after all, Israel has been massively expanding the settlements in the West Bank for years. “Israel has proven that it can make peace,” says Lewin, mentioning the agreement with Egypt. He hopes that this capacity for peace still exists in Israel today.
We don’t have to transfer the conflict to Switzerland.
Regarding the situation in Switzerland, Lewin says that the SIG welcomes the fact that Hamas is now being designated as a terrorist organization. “We think it is right that the Federal Council now sees that you cannot negotiate with such an organization,” says Lewin. However, the SIG is worried that the current solidarity with Israel and the Jews will change again and that anti-Semitic incidents will then increase.
The President of the Swiss Association of Israelite Communities also calls for moderation in Switzerland and for dialogue in Switzerland: “We don’t have to transfer the conflict to Switzerland, which is why it is very important to me personally that we have a good dialogue with the Muslim forces in Switzerland,” says Lewin.