by Howard Rotberg (January 2020)
The Jewish School (Drawing a Golem), R. B. Kitaj, 1930
Since the 1960s, German historical memory of the Holocaust was the foundation for a moral obligation to support the existence and security of the Jewish State, Israel.
Having perpetrated the genocide of six million Jews, Germany has been loath to publicly criticize Israeli positions. One might say that German politicians had a type of inhibition vis-a-vis Israel; however, many commentators inside and outside Germany, are becoming more focused on a choice between adherence to this historic inhibition or following what they assert to be mutual interests and realpolitik with respect to the wider Middle East.
Accordingly, the “special relationship” formerly based on morality, is feeling certain strains as historical memory fades, Islamic immigration increases, and Germany bases its decision on political and economic interests, and the voting patterns of a younger generation, not so cognizant of the Holocaust, who, like many of their peers in western universities, are subject to anti-Israel indoctrination and incitement.
Shimon Stein writes in his March 7, 2018, essay, “Germany-Israel Relations: Unique or Normal,” (INSS The Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv University), of certain strains that threaten to transform the relationship from “special” to “normal”.
Given the increasing anti-Israel, pro-Arab, outlook of the rest of Europe that plays along with UN General Assembly hostility to Israel, “normal” is not good enough.
In the past, there have been tensions over sale of German tanks to Saudi Arabia, and the sale of military chemicals to Iraq which were useful in attacks on civilians. More recently, Germany’s refusal, as one of the P5+1 nations, to follow the American lead in tearing up the Iran deal which would see Iran legally achieve nuclear weapons in about 2031, was viewed negatively by Israel and the United States.
Israelis remember that Germany was “neutral” in the Arab Yom Kippur War of 1973. We might all ask whether Germany would also be neutral in the event of an Iranian attack against Israel, using the 150,000 rockets they have stockpiled in Hezbollah-occupied Southern Lebanon, or even with nuclear weapons.
And we must all remember that in a speech at Tehran University on December 14th, 2001, former Iranian president Rafsanjani said:
Muslims must surround colonialism and force them [the colonialists] to see whether Israel is beneficial to them or not. If one day, the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel’s possession [meaning nuclear weapons]—on that day this method of global arrogance would come to a dead end. This is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.
Germany is both the largest contributor to the European Union’s budget (21%) and the largest in population (16%) and therefore, when we scrutinize Germany, we also have to pay regard to the acts of the EU.
Alain Destexhe, writing in gatestoneinstitute.org on December 10th, 2019, outlines the various ways that the European Union shows its hostility to Israel at a time when anti-Semitism is growing in both the Left and the Right. This is exacerbated by Muslim immigrants who have been raised with extremely anti-Semitic beliefs in their home countries, and see no need to change when their new hosts show an almost obsessive double standard and demonization of Israel, the Jewish homeland.
The children of these immigrants, once exposed to the prejudice of what might be called the “Leftist-Islamist alliance,” can feel, especially in the universities, at home with fellow haters of Israel and the Jews.
Destexhe argues that the EU fails to respect the sovereignty of Israel and its right to defend itself when it is under continuous threat, including both terrorism and rocket fire from Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel’s targeting of Hamas or Islamic Jihad militant leaders is, for example, done in self-defense.
The most recent rocket attacks from Gaza, 450 rockets in 48 hours, constitute a major military attack and, if not for the defensive Iron Dome anti-missile system developed by Israel, scores of civilians would have been killed. The EU often misnames the attacks as “skirmishes” or part of a “cycle of violence” and attempts to impose a moral equivalency on the situation. The U.S. under Trump, however, is unafraid to point out that the recent attack by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist proxy of Iran, was aimed at civilians in Israel. U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said, “We stand with our friend and ally Israel at this critical moment and support Israel’s right to defend itself and bring an end to these barbaric attacks.”
America is Israel’s friend and the EU is not, says Destexhe. How, he asks, can the EU officially be committed to fighting terrorism but support, politically in the UN and financially, the Palestinian Authority—which clearly uses part of its EU financial support to incentivize terrorism and pay pensions to the family of terrorists who kill civilians?
The EU, like all enemies of Israel, ignores the Hamas Charter’s war against Jewish civilians. It runs roughshod over international law which at the most would view lands gained in the defensive 1967 war, lands that were never previously sovereign to Jordan or other Arabs, as “disputed” lands, not “occupied” lands. A country cannot be seen to occupy lands that belonged to it historically when there has been no achievement of sovereignty by any other people under international law.
Moreover, there are many cases of Islamists seizing non-Muslim lands all over the world, in Africa, the Philippines, and in Cyprus, but the EU only speaks out against Israel, which again did not start an offensive war. Recently, the EU Court of Justice decision that food products imported to Europe, made in the Golan, Judea and Samaria (the so-called West Bank), and even East Jerusalem, cannot be labelled “Made in Israel.”
The pompous Europeans cannot abide Israel designating the location of its own capital; unlike the US under President Trump, the EU still arrogantly dismisses Israel’s own choice of capital, Jerusalem, yet its leadership still meet with Israeli officials in Jerusalem.
One of the most despicable actions of the EU, of which Germany is the largest member, was their reaction when President Trump finally decided to stop the farce of funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees. This was done because UNRWA is not just a humanitarian agency but acts to provide an education that incites the young to believe that they will one day take over Israel and drive the Jews into the sea. What happened next is that the EU made up for the lost American support, doubling its funding, and now provides one-half of URWA’s budget. The Dutch parliament showed some morality, absent in the case of Germany, by passing a motion in November, objecting to funding the Palestinian Authority when it gives money to imprisoned terrorists and their families.
David Bedein, in “From Auschwitz to UNRWA: German Complicity Continues,” (Behind the News in Israel, December 11, 2019), states
The Center for Near East Policy Research has examined all school books of UNRWA.
UNRWA texts, all of which are acquired from the Palestine Liberation Organization, openly teach the “value” of exterminating Jews.
Bedein states that the Center has released a comprehensive report about the virulent anti-Semitism of the teachers’ manuals, including turning those who murder Jews into role models for Arab children. Yet the EU blames Israel for lack of peace in every applicable UN General Assembly vote.
In fact, Germany maintains a Government Department for Monitoring Anti-Semitism. The Center for Near East Policy Research together with an official from the Simon Wiesenthal Center pressed this department for a comment but it astoundingly replied that it does not relate to what Germany does abroad.
Unlike Britain, Germany will stay in the EU and is therefore complicit in the EU’s hostility and actions toward Israel, which are more appropriate for countries at war than countries that supposedly have a “special relationship.”
I have always remained sensitive to German policy after the Holocaust, in part because my late father was a slave laborer in Auschwitz concentration camp and barely survived; but not so his parents and eight year old sister who were murdered in the gas chambers.
I have become angered by recent German actions, to the extent that I think the “special relationship” is in danger, especially as the numbers of Muslims in Germany increases. You see, on November 19, this year, Germany voted in favour of a UN General Assembly motion entitled “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” sponsored by such stalwarts of human rights as North Korea, Egypt, Nicaragua, and Zimbabwe.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, of the human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center, was quoted in The Jerusalem Post as saying: “Having Germany again vote for a UN Resolution labelling the Jewish people’s holiest site—the Western Wall in Jerusalem, along with Solomon’s Temple Mount and the historic Jewish Quarter of the Old City as ‘occupied Palestinian territory’—is an outrage and intolerable.”
Rabbi Cooper continued: “No German government should ever be involved in delegitimizing Jewish history and presence in Jerusalem.
Benjamin Weinthal writing in the Jerusalem Post on December 1st, in reaction to the German vote on November 19th, noted that “Germany’s government has engaged in an orgy of diplomatic attacks on the Jewish state over the last two years, including voting against Israel a total of eight times in November. Germany voted 16 times at the UN in 2018 to condemn Israel.”
UN expert Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch, wrote on Twitter in October that “Germany introduced 0 condemnations of China, Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Venezuela, etc.” He asked German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, why he is singling out Israel and ignoring repressive, closed nations for diplomatic rebukes.
After over 130 Hamas rockets were fired on Israel in March, Germany’s UN ambassador, Christoph Heusgen, equated Israel’s counter-terrorism strategy with the US- and EU-designated terrorist entity Hamas: “Civilians must live without fear of Palestinian rockets or Israeli bulldozers,” said Heusgen.
Germany’s Muslim population up to Merkel’s welcome of a million young, mainly male, Muslim refugees from Syria, had been largely Turkish. Turkey before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was not so radical. However, in view of Erdogan’s increasingly hard-line and Islamist policies, Germany’s Turkish citizens can be expected to influence the German government accordingly. In a speech to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, reported in The Jerusalem Post, Turkey’s president Erdogan slammed Israel and called for Islamic unity among the “brothers and sisters” to confront the West and conspiracies against Islamic countries. Germany, in the United Nations, is obsessed with Israel at the same time as Erdogan incites its Muslim population to “confront” the West. European countries that are increasingly being labelled by Islamists as areas of future “demographic conquest” should be firming up their cultures of freedom and justice and support for Jews and other minorities.
“Political correctness” in Germany, as in the rest of the West, inhibits full and thoughtful discussion of the effect of Merkel’s admission of nearly one million young male Syrians from lands where jihadism, Sharia Law, terrorism, and hatred of women, Jews, and gays are endemic. On New Years’ Eve, 2016, some 100 of the recent immigrants, most from places where there is a “culture of rape,” began assaulting hundreds of German young women in Cologne. As has been done in Sweden, the police and politicians actively cover up the nature and extent of the crimes and refuse to consider this as a consequence of immigration from certain lands.
In the July, 2016, terror attack by a German/Iranian young man in a Munich mall that killed 9, there was a rush to assure the public that he acted alone and was probably mentally ill. Despite the fact that this happened during a security high alert for terrorism, the Germans did not want to admit that this was terrorism.
Of course the purpose of this terrorism is to cause a submission by the population to Islamist goals, as the media seeks to assure that appeasement of the terrorist-supporting-nations will result in the appeasers of the terrorist monsters being killed last. In fact, as I have attempted to show in my book, The Ideological Path to Submission . . . and what we can do about it (Mantua Books), Islamic terrorism seeks to force submission to the Islamist agenda, which includes Sharia law, a world-wide caliphate and, of course, murder of Jews world-wide and especially in Israel. To the extent that terrorism conduces to submission, it is irresponsible for the media, academics, and politicians not to explain this and work against it.
Germany’s position seems to be in line with other European nations that Israel should not build housing in historic Jewish lands in Judea and Samaria, merely because Palestinians who have rebuffed every peace offer and will not give up the dream of destroying Israel, declare that they want it (together with the rest of Israel as their own state, the 22nd Arab state surrounding tiny Israel.)
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in 2017 was irked that Israel scrapped a planned meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu because Gabriel was in the same trip meeting with Israeli Leftist groups.
This interference in Israeli affairs would not seem proper were this was any other country. Gabriel, however, while acknowledging the need for “special diplomatic sensitivity” in light of “special consideration for the past” went on to say: “But historical guilt can not lead Germany to accept an Israeli government moving away form certain values that we have always shared.”
It is time for Germany, in light of its actions at the UN, its involvement with the EU, and its funding of terror-supporting organizations, to explicitly state what these “certain values” are and who is moving away from what values.
I fear that Germany along with the rest of Europe, does not care that their favorite policy of a “two-state” solution is not achievable. Israel’s concessions toward gradual sovereignty for the Arabs in the so-called West Bank, was met with the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada and the clear message that those identifying themselves, after 1967, as Palestinians, did not want a state alongside Israel but one in place of Israel—with the Jews killed or expelled, as has been the case in almost all Muslim majority countries. In addition, the Israeli gift of Gaza to the Palestinians resulted in an election putting the terrorist Hamas in power, with its main policy being to fire rockets on Israel and support terrorism through underground attack tunnels and incendiary kites.
And so, if Germany’s idea of “certain values” includes putting a terror state within a few miles of Israel’s airport and population centers, these German “values” must be adjusted to reality. Failure to do so by the Germans, in my opinion, constitutes another type of war against the Jews.
It will be telling what type of reaction Germany makes when Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” is revealed. I suggest that this will be the test for whether post-War Germany has proper values, or whether it is going to hide behind the EU government while Jewish lives continue to be lost due to Arab terrorism. For those readers interested in what the parameters of that deal might look like, I have written about it here.
Shimon Stein suggests that German politicians should, when speaking about their relationship with Israel, both begin and end their talks reaffirming the special relationship—but what really is important is what criticisms they make in the middle of their speeches. The worry is that references to Germany’s post-war taking of responsibility for its historic crimes seems to be done to soften the blows from Germany’s new “values”.
On the bright side, the youth wing of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), called Jusos, condemned its leadership’s anti-Israel voting record at the UN in late November. This organization of 14 to 35-year-olds has over 70,000 members and adopted a resolution that the “disproportionate condemnation of Israel, the only democratic state in the Middle East” is a problem affecting UN bodies “that is carried on not only by states of the Middle East, but also European states, who pass, or abstain from anti-Israel resolutions.” They urged the leadership to “dissociate from the initiatives and alliances of antisemitic member states in the bodies and specialized agencies of the United Nations. Chancellor Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union, together with the SPD, has refused to change Germany’s anti-Israel voting, rejecting an attempt by the Free Democratic Party to reverse this anti-Israel bias.
I suggest that if Germany still sees a special relationship with the Jews including Israelis, it stop its complicity with the Jew-hating nations. Germany’s historic guilt will not be assuaged by catering to Islamist refugees and harming the Jewish State, which now has about 6 million Jews, the same number as the Nazis killed in their “Final Solution.”
It is time for Germany to accept the truth. It has a choice—it has to choose between being a friend with a “special relationship” or a foe with a “normalized” EU-type of relationship with Israel and the Arabs.
I hope it makes the right choice.
Howard Rotberg is the author of The Second Catastrophe: A Novel about a Book and its AuthorTOLERism: The Ideology Revealed, and his latest, The Ideological Path to Submission . . . and What We Can Do About It. He is founding publisher of Mantua Books www.mantuabooks.com, Canada’s only conservative values and pro-Israel publishing house. He also writes periodically for Frontpage Magazine, Israpundit, Jewish Voice of New York and New English Review. He resides in Hamilton, Canada.
Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast