Thursday 25 August 2011

Is Germany a true friend of Israel?

Next month, Chancellor Merkel faces the easiest human rights test in Germany’s post-war history. The Germans can continue to embarrass themselves by supporting a UN-sponsored anti-Semitic lynch mob in the guise of a rally against racism, or they can walk out.

See also: Berlin still has not pulled out of ‘anti-Israel’ Durban III, Anne Bayefsky

German parliament continues to court Israel’s most despicable foes in Tehran, by Benjamin Weinthal

Next month, New York will host an event marking the 10th anniversary of another dark hour, the notorious UN-sponsored Durban world conference on racism, which became a platform for some of the world’s worst human rights abusers to call for Israel’s destruction.

On September 22, the UN will welcome representatives from 186 of the 193 member countries for the third meeting of the Durban process. At the second Durban conference in Geneva in 2009, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust and proclaimed the Jewish state “illegitimate” and “criminal.”
He called for the obliteration of Israel and Zionism, declaring "Governments must be encouraged and supported in their fights at eradicating this barbaric racism. Efforts must be made to put an end to Zionism."  Iran's despot used his UN stage to voice his oft-repeated denial of the Holocaust, saying that Israel was "created on the pretext of Jewish suffering from World War II."  Sadly, but unsurprisingly, he is expected to speak again next month in New York.

While the United States, Canada, Italy, Australia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and naturally Israel have declined to attend an event whose participants call for the elimination of a UN member, Germany will send its diplomats to the third Durban conference, as its parliament continues to court Israel’s most despicable foes in Tehran.

The original Durban conference in 2001 was filled with Jew-hatred. Scores of South African Muslims in attendance carried banners declaring that “Hitler should have finished the job.” Other attendees circulated literature denouncing “Nazi-Israeli apartheid.”

In short, Durban was an orchestrated global campaign to strip Israel of its right to exist by grossly distorting human rights rhetoric to advance anti-Semitic causes. The Iranian regime has led an international campaign to deny the Holocaust, delegitimize Israel in UN forums, and bankroll Hezbollah and Hamas, two terrorist groups that kill Jews almost exclusively.

In June, Knesset Member Shaul Mofaz wrote a letter of protest to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and blasted his counterparts in the Bundestag after Berlin hosted members of the Iranian Majlis at the same time as members of the Knesset.

“The Iranian Majlis is a façade of a parliament that covers a murderous regime that oppresses its people and tortures young students and protesters,” wrote Mofaz. “They support and export terror, aid Assad’s regime in repressing protests against him, deny the Holocaust – all while manufacturing nuclear weapons and missiles in order to commit genocide against the Jews and erase our only state from the map. We cannot stand by while German representatives hold a dialogue with a regime that calls for genocide.”

Ruprecht Polenz, chairman of the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee and a member of chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, defended the visit, claiming that “sanctions do not rule out talks” with Iran’s government. Yet in welcoming the Iranian officials, Polenz allowed his committee to become a vehicle for anti-Western, anti-Israeli policies.

Israel a whipping boy
In 2004, three years after the initial Durban conference, Germany hosted the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s conference on anti-Semitism. Despite Germany’s pledge to “intensify efforts to combat anti-Semitism in all its manifestations,” Berlin has scarcely flinched as Ahmadinejad has issued the most chilling exhortations to anti-Jewish genocide since Hitler himself.

According to a July statement from the German foreign ministry, “In the context of the international racism conference, (Germany) works to ensure that no individual countries are separately pilloried.”

Yet how can Germany do its part to ensure that no country is singled out when Israel is the only country targeted in the 2001 Durban document for disparate treatment? UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay, who will be overseeing the third Durban conference next month, has similarly shown little inclination to part with her allies in the Muslim world, who also insist on challenging Israel’s existence.

Berlin's Foreign Ministry has been quick to abandon the fight against anti-Semitism and its so-called special relationship with Israel. Over the years, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle has been accused of having a massive blind spot toward anti-Semitism. In 2002, his Free Democratic Party (FDP) tolerated the first openly anti-Semitic election campaign since the Hitler period.

Westerwelle refused to censure and rope in then-top FDP official and German-Arab friendship society head Jürgen Möllemann for mass-mailing an election flyer demonizing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for ”violating resolutions of the UN Security Council.” Möllemann turned the Jewish state into a whipping boy for Germany's economic and political problems.

Rising frustration with Westerwelle's apparent embrace of the anti-Israel Durban commemoration event prompted on Monday Dieter Graumann, the head of Germany's Jewish community, to slam the Foreign Ministry. The Federal Republic should not take part in this "disgusting show trial," Graumann said.

"Germany has been silent so far," said Graumann. He termed the Durban process a "festival of hostility towards Jews,” and added that "Germany must not give this hate campaign the appearance of legitimacy.”

Next month, Chancellor Merkel faces the easiest human rights test in Germany’s post-war history. The Germans can continue to embarrass themselves by supporting a UN-sponsored anti-Semitic lynch mob in the guise of a rally against racism, or they can walk out.

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