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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Does Germany have enough shame?

German chancellor Angela Merkel stood in front of the Knesset today and expressed her country's shame at the Holocaust. She also assured the Knesset members that Germany will always stand by Israel.
"Especially in this place, I emphasize: Every German government and every chancellor before me was committed to the special responsibility Germany has for Israel's security," she said.

"This historic responsibility is part of my country's fundamental policy. It means that for me, as a German chancellor, Israel's security is non-negotiable," she added.


"I say it in a clear voice - the Qassam fire must stop," Merkel said. "Terror attacks are a crime, and do not resolve political disputes."

The chancellor also singled out the Iranian nuclear threat. "It is not up to the world to prove that Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb, but rather up to Iran to that it is not," said Merkel. "If Iran does not accept this, Germany will push for further sanctions."

"If Iran were to obtain nuclear weapons, it would have disastrous consequences," she said. "We have to prevent this."


"The mass murder of six million Jews, carried out in the name of Germany, has brought indescribable suffering to the Jewish people, Europe and the entire world," she said.

"The Shoah fills us Germans with shame. I bow before the victims. I bow before the survivors and before all those who helped them survive," she said, using the Hebrew word for Holocaust.
I have been to Germany and I never felt the discomfort there that I did in Austria, which I have also visited. Germans seem to feel contrition for what they did in World War II while the Austrians seem to see themselves as victims. But having said that, Germany's actions don't match Merkel's words. This is from Caroline Glick's column in today's JPost:
MERKEL, WHO presents herself and her country as Israel's greatest friend and supporter in Europe, will no doubt ignore this story [about a German suicide bomber in Afghanistan last week. CiJ] in her Knesset speech. She will doubtlessly also not mention that her country is Iran's largest importer. She might mention that last year Germany did cancel a half of its loan guarantees to German firms doing business with Iran. But she won't mention that the move has had almost no impact on trade volume. In a recent report on German firms in Iran, Reuters interviewed British businessman Robert Mills, who runs DHL's operation in Teheran. DHL, the express delivery firm is a unit of the mail and logistics group Deutsche Post.

Mills gushed about the booming business his firm is doing in Iran, in spite of the international sanctions. Mills said the tonnage handled by DHL jumped by 50 per cent in the last two years and the company has doubled its turnover in Iran since 2005 on the back of rising imports of everything from telecommunications equipment to car spare parts.

Like Mills, other businessmen representing German firms reported booming businesses and expanding opportunities in spite of UN sanctions. Business managers reported that their earnings have doubled and tripled in the past two years.

Iran's faith in its German business partners is apparently unlimited. Why else would it be considering listing $92 billion in shares of its energy holding company on the Frankfurt stock exchange? As MEED, the Middle East Business Intelligence Report reported Sunday, with over 1,700 German firms operating in Iran, the fact that Germany recently broke off banking ties with Iranian banks is not viewed as an obstacle to listing the firm on the Frankfurt exchange. A spokeswoman for Deutsche Borse, the company which manages the exchange told the journal that it would have no objection to listing the Iranian firm.

GERMANY'S actions toward Iran cannot be squared with Merkel's rhetoric of support for Israel and commitment to Israel's security.
Too bad no one bothered to question Merkel on the disparity between her words and her country's actions. It would have been nice if at least the opposition had interrupted the love fest long enough to do so. For more on other German actions that don't square with Merkel's words, read the whole thing.


At 11:42 PM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...

I read an article in the NY Sun,
and still feel very ambivalent.

Growing up during WWII has left an indelible feeling of distrust,even though she seemed real, but after reading your post, I feel that I should follow my instincts.

At 11:45 PM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...

Sorry...the link did not work.

Merkel in Jerusalm:


At 11:58 PM, Blogger Naftali said...

I do not subscribe gennerally to modern guilt squishyness.

And the Jewish people can lean only on our G-d.

However that nation committed what just might have been the greatest crime against G-d's children and therefore G-d in the history of the nations of the world.

It just might serve that nation well, spiritually
and therefore physically,
to live out the rest of its national life in repentence
and regret for that crime.

Notwithstanding that Hashem does not forgive the spilling of Jewish blood. ('damam lo nikeisi')

At 12:11 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

I know where my sympathies lie despite being of mixed background. I had a German mother and a Jewish father.

Deeds are far more important than words. In this respect, Germany has fallen short of its responsibilities to the Jewish people. The country could do a lot more than it has to date. I'm living proof of the impossible things G-d does and its His wish people aren't held responsible for what their parents did. Each generation is morally responsible for its own deeds before the Creator.

Nevertheless, we have a duty never to forget the past so there is no Holocaust again in the future. This is the important thing for Jews and Israel so they survive.

At 5:43 PM, Blogger Leonard Zelig said...

As I am living in Germany I can assure you that Merkels words didn't only match her countries actions. There's also a disparity between her speech and what the ordinary German thinks. Most of them hate Israel. The most common argument is: "Look how great we are! We are so proud, because we don't forget the Jews we killed. We remember them and care for our past. Therefore we know best what happened in Auschwitz. Be aware that the same is happening in Gaza again." It makes me wanna throw up!

By the way: The new smear word amongst German youngsters is "Jew". A friend told me he hears teenagers calling each other "Jew" every morning on his way to work. There were also a few articles about this phenomenon in the international press.


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