Bijan Djir-Sarai, the Iranian-born foreign affairs spokesman for Germany’s opposition Free Democrat Party (FDP), sharply criticized the German government’s pandering to Iran’s Ayatollahs: “You can’t get up in the morning and say that you stand by Israel’s side and in the evenings have tea with the Iranians and celebrate revolution parties.” (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel likes to think of herself as a friend of Israel. In a speech she gave in the Knesset in Jerusalem in Mach 2008, she said:
“Here of all places I want to explicitly stress that every German government and every German chancellor before me has shouldered Germany’s special historical responsibility for Israel’s security. This historical responsibility is part of my country’s raison d’être. For me as German chancellor, therefore, Israel’s security will never be open to negotiation. And that being the case, we must do more than pay lip-service to this commitment …”
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas claimed that Auschwitz (as a symbol for the murder of six million Jews) made him want to become a politician.
Given such intentions, one would expect Merkel, Maas and Germany’s foreign policy in general to be very supportive of the Jewish state and to be fierce enemies of regimes and organizations that seek its destruction. The reality, however, it is the opposite.
When German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Israel in May 2017 (his first visit to the Jewish state since taking office five months earlier), he used the opportunity to pay his respects to Yassir Arafat and lay a wreath at the arch-terrorist’s mausoleum in Ramallah.
In February, President Steinmeier sent a congratulatory telegram to Iran’s mullah regime in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, in the name of Germany’s citizens: “Mr. President, on the occasion of the National Day of the Islamic Republic of Iran, I congratulate you, also on behalf of my compatriots.”
“Not on my behalf”, said Hamed Abdel-Samad, a German-Egyptian political scientist and author of several books in which he criticizes Germany’s appeasement of radical Islam. For years, Abdel-Samad has been living under police protection in Germany after he published a book, Islamic Fascism, and a radical Egyptian cleric issued a murder fatwa against him. When Steinmeier in February invited Abdel-Samad, among other celebrities, to his official residence to participate in a debate entitled, “Democracy and Religion”, Abdel-Samad held Steinmeier to account:
“You congratulated the Iranian regime on behalf of all Germans, but you should not do that. As a German citizen I tell you: not in my name! You sent the wrong signals both to the regime in Iran, to the democratic opposition in the country and in exile, to the tens of thousands of victims of this regime and their families, as well as to the German population. To the regime you sent the signal ‘Keep it up’, to the opposition ‘I do not care about your trouble’ and to the German people ‘We do not really take our own values seriously.”
Abdel-Samad was joined by many human rights attorneys, politicians and journalists. Reverend Steffen Reiche, a Protestant cleric who, in October 1989, was one of the co-founders of the East German Social-Democratic Party (at that time, the communist dictatorship was still intact and the founding of a non-regime party was considered high treason) wrote in the newspaper Die Welt that he was “ashamed” of the president and called for Steinmeier to be disinvited from this year’s Protestant church congress. In a rare move, even journalists of Germany’s public TV channel ARD criticized Germany’s “dangerous pandering to the mullahs”.
At the same time, Germany’s best-selling tabloid Bild revealed that Deputy Foreign Minister Niels Annen had visited a party in the Iranian Embassy in honor of the Islamic revolution. The Jerusalem Post reported that the timing of Annen’s visit coincided with Iranian Brig.-Gen. Yadollah Javani’s comments on Israel regarding an American attack on Iran: “…if they attack us, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground,” he told Iran’s state-controlled IRNA news agency.
“Why does the Federal Government send a representative to a revolution party in the embassy of a terror regime?” asked Bild. The government answered that it wanted to “keep the channels of dialogue open” — a dialogue with a regime that has committed murders even on German soil. Yet, Germany makes great efforts to help European companies skirt US sanction against Iran.
Nasrin Amirsedghi, a well-known film scholar, cultural scientist and Iranian dissident in German exile, told Gatestone:
“The German government’s behavior is unscrupulous and evil. The grievances in Iran and Iran’s role as a terrorist in the region and even in Europe are not addressed but ignored and embellished. I’m stunned about the silence in this country — a country that once contributed so much to enlightenment and humanism.
“How can Germany hold a dialogue with the mullahs, establish diplomatic and business ties, send congratulation telegrams — all the while the mullahs brutally suppress every justified civil protest, keep 1.7 million political prisoners, homosexuals, women, attorneys, etc. in jail and perform daily public executions. The German government romanticizes a regime that has Israel’s destruction on its agenda.”
Amirsedghi issued a plea to the German government:
“Stop the policy of appeasement! Show courage and end all economic and diplomatic relations. The Iranian people can overthrow the regime by themselves. Money is the regime’s only lifeline. This source has to be dried up.”
Bijan Djir-Sarai, spokesman on foreign affairs for the opposition Free Democrat Party (FDP), sharply criticized Steinmeier’s and Annen’s pandering to the Ayatollahs:
“You can’t get up in the morning and say that you stand by Israel’s side and in the evenings have tea with the Iranians and celebrate revolution parties; that is a contradiction: the message is sent to Tehran, we’ll stand by your side, no matter what you do.”
Djir-Sarai, born in Tehran, spent his early childhood under the Khomeini regime. In 1987, when he was 11 years old his parents sent him to an uncle who lived in Germany. In November, during the parliamentary debate about the national budget, Djir-Sarai also confronted foreign minister Heiko Maas with Germany’s anti-Israel stance at the United Nations:
“Mr. Minister, can you explain to me why Germany last week in the UN General Assembly approved the eight resolutions that one-sidedly criticized Israel? Mr. Minister, I’ve always understood you as saying that the safety of the state of Israel is very important to you. That’s why I can’t comprehend why on the international stage Germany lets Israel down in such a way. As a member of the parliament, I demand that you provide an explanation for this vote, here in this house, in front of the deputies.”
When Maas did not reply, Djir-Sarai’s colleague Frank Müller-Rosentritt urged him to provide an answer. Maas took to the microphone and explained:
“When it comes to Israel resolutions, Germany — and this is not a new development — in recent years followed an approach that has been shaped by our attempts to be involved in the discussions about the drafts until the end. This is why we haven’t prematurely withdrawn from the debates of these resolutions and haven’t said we vote ‘no’. Instead, we have always made efforts that were coordinated with the Israeli representation — but not always to the latter’s satisfaction — to ensure that the drafts which would have, with or without us, received a majority at the United Nations anyway, were not worded in such a way as they might have been intended by some people. And this is why our interventions have always led to drafts in which much of the acrimony had been toned down.”
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a watchdog group that holds the UN and its agencies accountable to abide by the principles put forth in the UN Charter, once described this procedure as “the old Brussels-Ramallah wink-and-nod game”:
“The PLO submits a more inflammatory text at the beginning, knowing it will be revised later to allow the Europeans to pretend they achieved a ‘balanced’ text. Israel is then expected to celebrate that it has been lynched with a lighter rope.”
Maas even suggested that by supporting anti-Israel resolutions — in an alleged attempt to tone them down — Germany had earned “much approval on the Israeli part”. This claim was contradicted by Israel’s ambassador in Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff. He tweeted that it was “urgently necessary” to change German voting behavior in the UN on Israel and that Germany should adopt an “active leadership role in refocusing the common voting behavior of European partners.”
In 2016, Germany even voted for a UN resolution that singled out Israel at the annual assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) as the world’s only violator of “mental, physical and environmental health,” and commissioned a WHO delegation to investigate and report on “the health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory” and in “the occupied Syrian Golan”.
“The belief that a single country and a single people merit such attention on a permanent basis — this belief is motivated by one thing: anti-Semitism,” said the United States Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, in a speech he gave on March 18 in Geneva. Grenell’s speech was part of a rally organized by UN Watch. The rally, which protested the anti-Israel bias at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), drew 1,000 people and featured prominent speakers. In particular, Grenell singled out the council’s Agenda Item 7, which is “a permanent directive to debate the human rights record of Israel at every council session.” No other country is subject to such scrutiny.
“We must no longer let Israel down at the UN. It is madness that we are constantly on the side of countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran or Yemen against Israel”, the FDP member in the German parliament’s committee on foreign relations, Frank Müller-Rosentritt, told BILD.
“It can’t be that 21 resolutions against Israel are passed in one year and only one against Syria. This mismatch shows that the enemies of Israel use the UN to delegitimize the Jewish state internationally.”
Among other things, the resolution called upon the German government to:
“… clearly distance itself from one-sided, primarily politically motivated initiatives and alliances of anti-Israeli Member States in the United Nations bodies and agencies (such as the UN General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council or UNESCO) and to protect Israel and Israel’s legitimate interests against one-sided denunciations. In this context, Germany’s hitherto voting pattern should be questioned and, if necessary, changed “
The resolution was put to a parliamentary vote on March 14. The Bundestag overwhelmingly rejected it. It is very telling how the parties voted. The FDP (69 “yes”, zero “no”, zero abstentions) and the anti-immigration party AfD (81 “yes”‘, zero “no”, 3 abstentions) were the only parties that supported the pro-Israel resolution. The Greens Party abstained, while both Merkel’s CDU/CSU (one “yes”, 224 “no”, one abstention) and the Social-Democrats (zero “yes”, 132 “no”, zero abstentions) voted against it. Among Merkel’s Christian-Democrats, former interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, was the only one to support the resolution.
“Nowhere is the difference between pretense and reality as obvious as in the German Israel policy”, said Anton Friese, an MP of the AfD, in the debate.
“Expressions of solidarity are cheap, but to no avail. Beyond cheap words, when push comes to shove, Germany votes against Israel. In 2018, Germany approved 16 anti-Israeli resolutions in the UN General Assembly and abstained on four others, out of a total of 21 resolutions against Israel.
“The picture is not different in the UN Human Rights Council, of which such illustrious human rights defenders as China, Cuba, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are members. Even there, most of the convictions target Israel, while dictatorships go scot-free.
“Often the federal government says that it wants to prevent something worse and therefore has to participate in such machinations. It’s like joining a street gang to get it under control.”
The Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung commented on the German parliament’s vote:
“From the Israeli point of view, the rejection [of the resolution] should feed doubts about the statements of solidarity by German politicians.”
Supporting one-sided resolutions against Israel is not Germany’s only unfriendly act against the Jewish state. As research by the journalist Benjamin Weinthal has brought to light, Chancellor Angela Merkel has put pressure on other European Union states so that they do not transfer their embassies to Israel’s capital.
Stopping the murder of Israelis is also not on the German government’s agenda. Terrorist organizations like the PFLP and the Lebanese Hezbollah are not illegal in Germany. Thanks to Western sanctions, Hezbollah is on the brink of economic collapse. In Germany, however, only Hezbollah’s “armed wing” is illegal, so it’s still legal for Hezbollah to raise funds. Again, the German government argues that this helps to “keep channels for dialogue open”.
It gets worse. Although the German government is aware that the Palestinian Authority (PA) spends a significant portion of its budget on rewarding terrorists — murderers of Jews imprisoned in Israel and their families receive a life-long pension that is far higher than any social benefit for widows and orphans, it refuses to cut aid payments to the PA. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the PA, has vowed never to stop salaries to terrorists:
“Even if I will have to leave my position, I will not compromise on the salary (rawatib) of a Martyr (Shahid) or a prisoner, as I am the president of the entire Palestinian people, including the prisoners, the Martyrs, the injured, the expelled, and the uprooted.”
Last year the PA allocated $330 million to pay terrorists, and Germany paid $100 million to the PA. So it is fair to say that Germany pays the PA to reward the murder of Jews. Volker Beck, an MP of the Greens Party, said in 2017:
“The German government’s actions in the Palestinian territories are unprincipled. On the one hand, at a rate of $423 US per capita, the Palestinian territories are among the main receivers of German aid, on the other hand, the government doesn’t threaten any consequences due to the ‘martyrs rents'”.
So while Chancellor Angela Merkel talks about “Germany’s special historical responsibility for Israel’s security”, her government channels German taxpayer money to murderers of Jews, President Steinmeier sends congratulatory telegrams to those who plan the annihilation of the Jewish state. The bright side is that more than ever, German citizens, journalists and lawmakers have criticized this hypocrisy.
Stefan Frank is a journalist and author based in Germany.
 Iran was, in addition, caught red-handed in 2017, when it targeted a German politician and member of Annen’s Social-Democrat Party (SPD). Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA) arrested a Pakistan-born spy; by doing so, it apparently preempted a plot by the Iranian secret service to murder Reinhold Robbe, a longtime MP and former president of the German-Israeli friendship society (Deutsch-Israelische Gesellschaft, DIG). The secret agent was sentenced convicted and sentenced to four years in prison. The Iranian ambassador was summoned to the foreign ministry where he was reprimanded that this kind of behavior was “unacceptable” and a “strain on the bilateral relations”.