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Germany vs. the Jews — Again

The bottom line is that Israel can hardly count on Germany as a friend. It’s been behaving recently more like an enemy.

by
P. David Hornik

Bio

March 30, 2011 - 12:00 am

A poll earlier this month caused some consternation when it found “high levels of anti-Semitism in Germany” and, particularly, 47.7 percent of Germans saying that “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.” One of the researchers called the findings “remarkable” in light of the “widespread Holocaust remembrance and education events in Germany.”

These don’t seem to be working. Some German academics, however, explain such findings in terms of “secondary anti-Semitism” — or “that Germans are filled with pathological guilt about the Holocaust and shift the blame to Jews and Israel to assuage their complexes.” One wonders if Germans are really that consumed with guilt, or if it’s just old habits resurfacing.

Whatever the case, it would be pleasant to report that, despite popular antipathy to the Jewish state and the Jews, the current conservative government of Angela Merkel is doing much better. But its record, too, at least toward Israel, is fraught with problems.

Much of this concerns a Hamburg-based entity called the European-Iranian Trade Bank, or EIH. As Fox News reported last month, the U.S. Treasury Department states that “EIH has acted as a key financial lifeline for Iran as one of Iran’s few remaining access points to the European financial system.” Earlier in February, eleven U.S. senators wrote to the German foreign minister “asking that he stop EIH from doing business with Iran” and expressing concern about EIH’s “continued financial support of Iran’s nuclear proliferation activities.” To no avail.

Iran’s geopolitical aggression and nuclear program are recognized by now as a threat to the West and not just to Israel — hence the U.S. effort to coordinate sanctions against Iran. But, considering that Tehran has often boasted of its imminent annihilation of Israel and is sponsoring terrorist activity on its borders, the threat to Israel is most acute — making Germany’s abetting of that threat all the more striking.

Indeed, Fox News also reports that Treasury says “EIH facilitated the sale of more than $3 million in materials for Iran’s missile programs.” And it goes beyond EIH, since “Germany is Iran’s biggest European trade partner. German exports to Iran totaled $4.7 billion from January through November of last year. This was a 5 percent increase over the same period in 2009.”

Israelis could be forgiven for wondering if, the more things seemingly change, the more they stay the same.

And on the diplomatic front, too, Germany — Holocaust remembrance and education events notwithstanding — has been doing Israel harm. Late last month, the United Nations Security Council voted on a resolution that would have condemned all Israeli building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “illegal.” The resolution originated with the Palestinian Authority as part of an effort to eventually force Israel out of the West Bank without a peace agreement ensuring Israel’s security and rights. It was sponsored by Lebanon, a country dominated by Hezbollah — an Iranian-backed terrorist organization also sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Only a U.S. veto — reluctant, and under pressure from Congress — stopped the resolution. Israel, however, was reportedly under the impression that Germany, too, would oppose it, and dismayed when Germany voted in favor. Branding Israeli communities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “illegal” is not only false but intensifies the atmosphere of delegitimization surrounding them. It was within that context of delegitimization that earlier this month an Israeli family of five, including three young children, were butchered on the West Bank.

Now Jerusalem Post editor in chief David Horovitz suggests that Germany might still have a way to redeem itself. Next September the Palestinians are expected to go after Israel again in the Security Council, this time with a resolution recognizing a Palestinian state. Even if that resolution were vetoed, Horovitz says, the Palestinians could get it adopted by the General Assembly — in a way that is severely harmful to Israel’s legitimacy, security, and demography.

Under UN regulations, the only way to stop such a resolution dead in its tracks in the Security Council is if at least 7 of its 15 members vote no, abstain, or absent themselves. And

the vital countries with the capacity to sway others are Germany, France, and the UK. Might Germany be prepared to say “no” to unilateral UN establishment of Palestine? Maybe, say some, if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu can persuade Merkel that he is truly prepared to put flesh on his skeletal talk of a two-state solution.

Another source tells Horovitz that Israel should be working harder to stymie the Palestinian effort, “and that starts with Netanyahu trying to win over Merkel.”

If so, Netanyahu’s work will be cut out for him. Considering that half of Germans view Israel as a Nazi country, that Germany is now the main European state abetting Iran’s aggression, and that Germany already let Israel down on the settlements resolution, one has to be optimistic to think Germany would salvage Israel in the scenario Horovitz depicts.

That scenario is still tentative, though well supported. But what is clear is that, facing a sea of troubles, and despite the weight of the past, Israel can hardly count on Germany as a friend. It’s been behaving more like an enemy.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva and author of the book Choosing Life in Israel.
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