Canceling the Iran nuclear agreement would be extremely dangerous, said Roderich Kiesewetter, a politician who is CDU/CSU spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the German Bundestag.Kiesewetter, a retired colonel who dealt with nuclear planning in the German Defense Ministry and was also the commander of a German army battalion that engaged in many missions abroad, as well as head of the offices of chiefs of staff of the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe, said that Iran’s missile technology is highly sophisticated and that within a year, Iran would be able to use nuclear missiles with a range of 3,000 to 3,200 kilometers.Iran has great capability for nuclear enrichment, said Kiesewetter, and this is one of the main reasons that every avenue should be explored in an endeavor to ensure that Iran maintains its commitment to the treaty. Kiesewetter was participating in a joint conference organized at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, which is supported by the World Jewish Congress.He said that when Ehud Barak had come to Berlin in 2011 to suggest a preemptive strike against Iran, Kiesewetter had been in favor, but if such a proposal would be put forward today, he would be against it because “now is not the right time,” although he would like to see Iran contained.He conceded that pressure must be increased on Iran, but not the kind of pressure that would give Iran an impetus to abandon the treaty.The nuclear treaty with Iran was one of several subjects aired at the conference. Another was concerns over the resurgence of antisemitism.Also discussed was whether Germany and Israel continue to share the same values, whether refugees are deliberately maintaining that status for themselves and their progeny by refusing to integrate into their host countries, and of course, the two-state solution as an ultimate conclusion to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.“We are totally committed to the two-state solution as presented” in the US plan, said Kiesewetter. Whatever the final outcome may be, he insisted that the outline for the two-state solution should not be destroyed prematurely.He said that Germany would like to have its embassy in Jerusalem, but only at the end of the Israeli-Palestinian process. Kiesewetter also emphasized the importance of neither side violating international law.German Ambassador Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer characterized relations between Germany and Israel at both state level and at people-to-people level as “very complex” and “of a highly political character.”These relations can never be fully understood without the component of the Holocaust, she said.
Aware of reports of rising antisemitism in Germany, Wasum-Rainer said that resistance to antisemitism must be expanded.
“The state must guarantee that everyone can practice religion freely,” she declared. “We are against any form of antisemitism and will not tolerate any effort to delegitimize the State of Israel.”
This, of course, does not mean that Israel is above criticism in Germany. Criticism is part of a vibrant democracy, said Wasum-Rainer, but she stipulated that there are redlines which must not be crossed. “We have to do everything to enable a pluralistic, civil society,” she said.
What is of concern not only to Germany but the EU, she continued, is that some politicians are playing with the possible annexation of the West Bank. In Wasum-Rainer’s view, “this would be the end of the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel,” and would also be in violation of international law.
Although Germany and Israel have their differences, their special relationship remains strong, and economically, Germany is Israel’s biggest trade partner in the EU.
The ambassador described scientific relations as “a building block” in bilateral relations “that must never be underestimated.”
Regarding antisemitism, Moshe Zimmerman, Hebrew University Professor Emeritus and former director of the Richard Koebner Minerva Center for German History at the Hebrew University, said that Jews are particularly sensitive to antisemitism, but in Germany, antisemitism is not the most important problem in relation to prejudices against all minorities. There are other minorities who are in a far worse position than the Jews, he said.