Comment: Germany bashing Israel to ease guilt

European "ally" won't reduce its trade with Iran.

By
July 6, 2010 12:51
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

guido westerwelle 58. (photo credit: AP)

 
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BERLIN – Where do boundless enthusiasm for soccer and and turning Israel into a diplomatic punching bag cross paths? In Germany, where preoccupation with its team’s chance to win the World Cup in South Africa is coupled with last week’s precedent-setting parliamentary resolution condemning Israel.

The conventional wisdom among Israeli diplomats, Jewish non-governmental organizations, and even some mainstream German commentators is that the Federal Republic is Israel’s most stalwart ally on the European continent.

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However, since Israel’s interception of the Mavi Marmara, a vessel packed with radical Islamists and three anti-Israel German Left Party members, as it attempted to violate a legal naval blockade, Germany’s posture toward Israel has become increasingly biased, if not downright hostile.

All of the mainstream German democratic parties – ranging from the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union and its governing coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP) to the Social Democrats and the Greens – formed an alliance last week with the fiercely anti-Israel Left Party to blast Israel in a rare show of legislative unanimity.

The German Parliament called on Israel to agree to an independent investigation of the seizure of the Mavi Marmara and end its blockade of Gaza; it also termed the Jewish state’s effort at self-defense a “violation of the principle of proportionality.”

Rainer Stinner, foreign policy spokesman for the FDP, the party of Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, said, “The cross-party motion that we are considering today has already had a public effect; that has been reported on, correctly. Because what we are experiencing is really a new quality in joint German foreign and security policy. I very much appreciate that.”

His counterpart from the Left Party, foreign policy spokesman Wolfgang Gehrcke, noted a dramatic shift against Israel in Germany and said “This means that, for the first time in the Mideast question, all parties in the chamber have a joint motion.”



According to observers, Gehrcke is an energetic supporter of Hamas and Hizbullah, who has equated Israel with Nazi Germany.

Gehrcke received praise from deputy Phillip Missfelder from the Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Even if the impression often arises in outside portrayals that the Left Party has a fundamentally different opinion, I do believe, Mr. Gehrcke, that the statements you have made at various times leave no doubt that you find yourself on similar, common ground as us, “said Missfelder.

According to Missfelder’s Web site, he believes the resolution has “strengthened the security of Israel.”

Missfelder is on the board of the Coordinating Council of German Non-Governmental Organizations Against Anti-Semitism. When asked about Missfelder’s legislative alliance with an advocate of Hamas and Hizbullah and whether the Council plans to sack him, Klaus Faber, a top-level member of the council, wrote in an e-mail to The Jerusalem Post on Monday that “Mr. Missfelder is known to us and others for his determined attitude in combating anti-Semitism and opposing positions that delegitimize Israel.”

By invoking the Jewish state’s security interests as a pretext to justify the anti-Israel resolution, German politicians deflect attention away from a flourishing German-Iranian trade relationship that, according to experts, is undercutting Israel’s security.

The roughly €4 billion annual German-Iranian trade volume props up the Holocaust-denying government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Khamenei. Stinner, from the FDP, has defended trade with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a US-designated global terrorist entity.

“If we would include the Revolutionary Guard in the EU terror list, this would result de facto in a broad economic embargo that neither Germany nor the other EU member states want,” said Stinner.

Dr. Matthias Küntzel, an authority on German-Iranian relations, wrote in June on his Web site, that “The FDP clientele – terror or no terror – would like to continue doing good business.”

The major German media have ignored Stinner’s statements about his support for an organization, the Revolutionary Guard, that is decisively contributing to Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program and international terror against Jews and Israelis.

Critics see last week’s resolution singling out Israel for blame in the Gaza flotilla incident as an expression of German parliamentarians applying double standards to Israel’s self-defense measures.

The term “double standard” is a core element of the European Union’s definition of contemporary anti-Semitism. According to the EU, anti-Semitism includes “Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

The German Bundestag has not issued cross-party resolutions blasting the United States for its blockade of Cuba or members of the United Kingdom’s armed forces who were involved in human rights violations in Iraq. Unanimous German parliamentary resolutions targeting Hamas’s firing of over 8000 missiles on Israel in recent years are conspicuously missing from the orders of legislative business.

Nor has the German parliament issued a resolution condemning the rearming of Hizbullah since the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. According to the UN brokered cease-fire agreement, Germany is supposed to help block the delivery of weapons to Hizbullah.

How can one explain that Israel’s most reliable partner in Europe approved a parliamentary resolution that endangers Israel’s security interests? There is no other country that in Germany can arouse such intense emotional feelings of loathing as Israel.

The Dutch Jewish author Leon de Winter, writing in The Wall Street Journal in June, attempted to explain this outbreak of hatred.

De Winter noted that Europeans “have grown tired of carrying the guilt for the destruction of the Continent’s Jews. They have started to long for some form of historical release.”

So Germany’s obsession with targeting Israel for blame is largely an effort to cleanse its deeply anchored guilt about the crimes of the Shoah. Israel and Jews represent a permanent living reminder of the Holocaust.

Thus, the anti-Israel Bundestag resolution is not an expression of prudent foreign policy criticism, rather an act of absolution for a guilt-ridden country that frequently views Israel as a disturber of the peace instead of a liberal democracy with shared Western values.

In short, it’s German guilt, stupid.

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