New envoy to Germany wants Berlin to rally Europe over Iran

Tel Aviv-born Yaakov Hadas-Handelsman, 54, criticizes German media for downplaying Iranian nuclear threat, harping on war.

By JPOST CORRESPONDENT
March 11, 2012 03:21
2 minute read.
German town of Tübingen

German town of Tübingen_521. (photo credit: Courtesy March for Life)

 
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BERLIN – Israel’s new ambassador to Germany, Yaakov Hadas-Handelsman, who was accredited on Friday after the top diplomatic post in Berlin had gone vacant for six months, called on the Federal Republic to help unite Europe against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In an interview with the mass-circulation Bild newspaper on Saturday, Hadas-Handelsman urged that “Germany, with all of its power and influence in Europe, take over a leading role of responsibility” in preventing the leaders of Iran, who “think that [Iran] can lay low until the sharp wind disappears,” from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

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Hadas-Handelsman conducted the interview in German and said, “I always read in the newspapers here, ‘What will happen if there is a war with Iran?’ The people should instead ask, ‘What will happen if Iran gets the bomb?’ The German press says that Israel should not attack Iran. That sounds as if Iran is only a problem for Israel. It must be made clear: Iran is a problem for the entire world.”

The 54-year-old diplomat was born in Tel Aviv and served previously as the ambassador to Brussels dealing with the NATO and the EU. He called the ambassadorial post in Germany as one of the most important in Israel’s foreign ministry.

Though his criticism of Germany was directed at the media, top politicians in that country have undermined Israel since November, according to critics. In contrast to his British and Dutch counterparts, who have argued that the military option targeting Iran must remain on the table, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle of the pro-business Free Democratic Party said that his country “reject[s] a discussion about military options” in connection with the Iranian nuclear threat.



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German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in February that an IDF strike on Iran would be “highly unlikely” to succeed, and would cause “obvious political damage.”

Hadas-Handelsman told the newspaper that he comes from a Holocaust family. His father was the only survivor and managed to escape the Nazis at the beginning of World War II by fleeing to Israel.

The ambassador said his father’s family came from a small city in Poland.

“Within a week, they were picked up and deported to Treblinka and immediately annihilated. I sense a special responsibility here to represent the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”

He stressed in the interview that Israel is working with all diplomatic means to end the Iranian nuclear crisis. Hadas-Handelsman added, however, that “if that does not work, all options remain on the table.

We are not ruling anything out. Iran should not know what we are planning.”

Hadas-Handelsman speaks Hebrew, English, German, Arabic and Turkish. He has a bachelor’s degree in international relations and Middle East studies from Tel Aviv University.

He completed his master’s degree at the Hebrew University in Middle East studies.

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