(photo credit: REUTERS)
With her summer 2015 announcement of the welcoming policy for refugees, German Chancellor Angela Merkel damaged Germany, her party, her image and probably her place in history.
She has also caused damage to German Jews and Israel. Until summer 2015 Merkel had a very good record on both these issues.
In November 2005, Merkel became chancellor. In January 2006, she visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2014 she also came to Israel. In the latter year Merkel was accompanied by 16 German ministers to discuss collaboration between the two countries. She had no problem in admitting German guilt toward the Jews. In January 2018 on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Merkel called for a new culture of remembrance in view of the shrinking number of Holocaust survivors.
Merkel’s attitude greatly differed from that of several senior leaders of the Christian Democratic Union’s junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD). Their previous leader, Sigmar Gabriel, currently German foreign minister, is a consistent anti-Israel inciter.
Recently he again accused Israel of apartheid.
Israel first had problems with an SDP leader decades ago. In 1981 then-chancellor Helmut Schmidt visited Saudi Arabia. Afterwards he said that Germans have a moral commitment to the Palestinians.
Prime minister Menachem Begin reacted furiously, saying, among other things: “From a moral point of view, Schmidt’s statements certainly rank as the most callous ever heard.”
He added: “It seems that the Holocaust had conveniently slipped his memory, and he did not make mention of a million-and-a-half small children murdered, of entire families wiped out. The German debt to the Jewish people can never end, not in this generation and not in any other. The entire nation cheered on the murderers as long as they were victorious. But what do we hear? We hear of a commitment to those who strove to complete what the Germans had started in Europe.”
Martin Schulz, the current SPD leader, who will resign from the position next month, spoke in the Knesset in 2014. At that time he was the head of the European Parliament.
Inviting him to speak there was a mistake. Due to a fallacy and his political provocations minister Naftali Bennett and several other Bayit Yehudi parliamentarians walked out of the Knesset plenary during his speech.
The prime candidate to succeed Schulz as SPD chair is Andrea Nahles.
She currently chairs the SPD faction in the Bundestag, the German Parliament. In 2012, Nahles met with Fatah representatives in Berlin. The press release of the meeting announced that the SPD and Fatah were bound by common values and a strategic dialogue.
That Nahles believed that the socialists are bound by common values with the glorifiers of the murderers of Israeli citizens is yet one more concrete example of the problems Israel has with contemporary Germany. These are not limited to the parties on the extreme Left or Right. They are deeply embedded in the country’s mainstream.
A major proof of the widespread demonization of Israel in Germany is that after 10 years of Merkel’s chancellorship, more than 40% of Germans still believe Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.
The opinions of Gabriel, Schulz and Nahles, however, do not exclusively represent the Social Democrats. I have heard Justice Minister Heiko Maas speak in Jerusalem at The Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in 2015 about Germany’s criminal past. In December 2017 Muslims burned Israeli flags in Berlin, an event that was seen around the world. Maas subsequently said that whoever burns Israeli flags is “burning our values.”
Yet all the good acts and words of Merkel are now overshadowed by the results of her refugee policy.
Within this framework at least 1.3 million people have arrived in Germany, mainly Muslims. One study shows that Muslim antisemitism has become a problem in Germany of the same order of magnitude as extreme right-wing Jew-hatred.
Two other studies illustrate the extreme classic antisemitism and anti-Israelism among the new Muslim arrivals.
The agreement for the planned coalition of the CDU and the SPD states: “After the abolishing of the rights of the Jews and murdering six million of them we Germans have an everlasting responsibility in the fight against antisemitism.”
Germany has not lived up to this as it has imported in the recent past hundreds of thousands of additional antisemites. That into a country where there are four antisemitic incidents per day.
Against this background other statements of the coalition agreement are grossly misplaced. The future leaders of this country of importers of antisemites condemn the Israeli settlements, a text which did not appear in the agreement of the current coalition. When speaking in the agreement about incitement and violence, the Palestinians are not mentioned. All these are additional indicators of the decay in the current German mainstream.
The author is emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, and the International Leadership Award by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.