Israeli Embassy in Berlin: End Germany-Iran programs

German politician faces criticism for trip to Tehran; Israeli embassy in Berlin echo the sentiment.

University of Rostock 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
University of Rostock 370
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
BERLIN – German-Iranian academic programs that seek to circumvent the EU and US consensus to isolate Tehran’s clerical leadership sparked criticism on Monday from the Israeli Embassy in Berlin.
“Israel sees the diplomatic effort, with decisive and effective sanctions as its key component, as the main tool to stop Iran’s military nuclear program.
Iran, as a country that persistently strives to eliminate the State of Israel, should not expect to enjoy the benefits of normal cooperation between civilized countries,” wrote a spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in an email to The Jerusalem Post.
The embassy statement came as a response to the decision of the German Academic Exchange Program (DAAD) to commence exchange programs with Iran’s education ministry that involve hundreds of German students in Iran.
The DAAD — a German organization funded by the government — confirmed to the Post that a memorandum of agreement was signed on September 5 with the Iranian government.
Alexandra Schäfer, a spokeswoman for the DAAD, sent the Post a statement noting that “the official policy of the the land [Iran] is highly problematic,” but it is vital to keep channels of communication open.
Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, an expert on Iran’s educational system, told the Post that the “German universities do not understand that with their projects they will not really reach Iranian society and the people who are thirsty for freedom...rather the opposite – making the totalitarian dictator respectable – and that is the real problem.”
Deidre Berger, the head of the American Jewish Committee office in Berlin, said the DAAD program is “counterproductive and naïve.” Adding that an exchange dealing with “selected participants from the Iranian regime will not lead to more democratic structures in Iran.”
Meanwhile, the German Free Democratic Party (FDP) deputy Bijan Djir-Sarai, who heads the German-Iranian parliamentary group, is slated to travel to Iran with a number of his fellow deputies.
A spokesman for Djir-Sarai’s office in Berlin confirmed to the Post a news report in the Iranian Mehr news outlet stating that a German delegation was planning to visit Iran.
Saba Farzan, a German-Iranian member of the FDP and expert on the human rights situation in Iran, wrote the Post, saying that “Mr. Djir-Sarai hasn’t learned the lesson of history very well. In this crucial time of preventing a nuclear weapon in the hands of this regime and to fully support democracy for Iranians, there is nothing to debate with this cruel and illegitimate dictatorship.”
“Mr. Djir-Sarai should know better than to organize such a devastating trip as his personal life story is a tragic example of how inhumane the Islamic Republic is.
Thankfully, Mr. Djir-Sarai has found many opportunities in Germany to prosper and live freely. Iranians inside the country longing for liberty deserve nothing less than that. It requires moral clarity to stand on the right historic side and to isolate this dictatorship,” Farzan continued.
Several Post calls and email queries to Djir-Sarai were not immediately returned. A spokeswoman for Green Party deputy Kerstin Müller told the Post by email that she had canceled her participation in the trip because of “personal reasons.”
It is unclear if Djir-Sarai is using the trip to advance his party’s business interests in Iran. Many members of the FDP have contracts with Iranian companies .
In a separate Iran visit, a spokeswoman for the European Union parliament told the Post that it is still “unclear” if the EU plans to send deputies from Brussels to visit Iran later this week.