July 14, 2021 | Israel Hayom

Germany needs to confront Iranian regime’s antisemitism

Berlin should take the lead in punishing the Islamic republic's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with economic sanctions and a cessation of diplomatic relations until Tehran recognizes Israel's right to exist.
July 14, 2021 | Israel Hayom

Germany needs to confront Iranian regime’s antisemitism

Berlin should take the lead in punishing the Islamic republic's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with economic sanctions and a cessation of diplomatic relations until Tehran recognizes Israel's right to exist.

The rapid spread of Jew-hatred is in the spotlight in Jerusalem this week at the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s 7th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism.

The German government’s lack of desire to confront the Iranian’s regime lethal antisemitism and Holocaust denial poses serious dangers for the security of Israel and German Jews, as well as to the very notion and fabric of post-Shoah German democratic notions. Iran is the world’s leading state-sponsor of antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

For obvious reasons, Germany should take the lead in punishing the Islamic republic’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with economic sanctions and a cessation of diplomatic relations until Tehran recognizes Israel’s right to exist.

Julian Reichelt, the co-editor-in-chief of the Berlin-based Bild, Europe’s best-selling newspaper, neatly captured how Chancellor Angela Merkel’s indifference has hindered the fight against Jew-hatred.

“In almost 16 years in the Chancellery, and also after the refugee crisis, which fueled Arab-Muslim antisemitism in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government have done next to nothing to combat this danger, or even clearly to name it,” Reichelt wrote in May, after outbreaks of antisemitic attacks on Jews in Germany triggered by Israel’s self-defense measures targeting the Iranian-backed terrorist entity Hamas.

The recent “election” of Ebrahim Raisi as the Islamic republic of Iran’s next president presents Merkel and her foreign minister Heiko Maas with a clear opportunity to condemn Raisi’s hardcore antisemitism.

Raisi, according to research by the Anti-Defamation League, managed the production of a 50-episode antisemitic documentary spreading the lies of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a fabricated text blaming Jews for the problems of Czarist Russia.

Raisi also said “all the Zionists know Hezbollah will drop such rockets and bombs so that no person in Israel will be safe.”

Merkel and Maas have remained silent about Raisi. After all, over the years Merkel has permitted the Social Democrat Maas to send senior diplomats to Iran’s embassy in Berlin to celebrate the Islamic Republic’s revolution.

Nor did Merkel object when the president of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, sent a congratulatory note to Iran’s clerical rulers on the occasion of the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, in “the name” of the German people.

With the exception of a few commissioners charged with combating antisemitism, there is widespread silence about the Iranian regime’s Jew-hatred in Germany. Felix Klein, Germany’s “commissioner for Jewish life and the fight against antisemitism,” echoes the position of Merkel and has declined to condemn the Iranian regime’s frequent Holocaust denial and calls to obliterate Israel.

However, Uwe Becker, the antisemitism commissioner for the state of Hesse, has urged Merkel to exit the deeply flawed Iran nuclear deal and impose sanctions on the mullah regime. “If Germany takes its raison d’État [national interest] seriously, it must immediately freeze its relations with Iran, and thus send a clear and unequivocal signal to the Iranian leadership,” Becker said.

He is an exception.

Merkel famously (or hypocritically?) said during her 2008 address to the Knesset that Israel’s security is Germany’s raison d’État.

Stefan Hensel, the new antisemitism commissioner for the city-state of Hamburg, called in late June for the closing of the Khamenei-controlled Islamic Center of Hamburg. This is the same center that mourned the January 2020 death of mass murderer Qasem Suleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force.

The center has also provided transportation for anti-Israel activists to attend the annual pro-Iranian regime al-Quds Day rally in Berlin demanding the destruction of the Jewish state.

Regrettably, Germany is in the unique position of having an “antisemitism commissioner” who, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center and German experts on Jew-hatred, spends his time on social media spreading Israel-related antisemitism and ignoring Iran’s lethal antisemitism.

Michael Blume, the commissioner for the southern German state of Baden-Wurttemberg, liked a Facebook post likening Zionists to Nazis. Blume’s conduct is antisemitic according to the most up-to-date and widely adopted definition, that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
As Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told us this week regarding Blume the “job of an antisemitism commissioner is to fight it and not spread it.”

The authorities in Baden-Wurttemberg, ranging from the interior minister Thomas Strobl to the Green Party’s governor Winfried Kretschmann, continue to tolerate Blume’s alleged high-intensity antisemitic activity on social media.

Baden-Wurttemberg has a long history of post-Holocaust antisemitism. The state elected a governor, Hans Filbinger, who served as a Nazi naval judge and defended his supervision of executions of deserters. Filbinger infamously said of his work during the Nazi era: “What was right then cannot be wrong now.”

Freiburg in Baden-Württemberg has maintained a twin city partnership Isfahan in Iran since 2000. The city’s elites, from the University of Freiburg to a former Green party mayor, hosted the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami to speak at the school. Khatami, before his 2008 appearance in Freiburg, praised the French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.

Blume, who the Wiesenthal Center has urged to resign, is a mere symptom of a larger problem in Germany among almost all public servants tasked with confronting antisemitism, as well as all layers of Germany’s government apparatus, namely that the greatest threat to the Jewish people, Iran’s regime, is courted as a diplomatic and economic partner.

The policy of appeasing the Iranian regime is deeply entrenched in German academia and power politics. The question we must ask about post-Shoah Germany is, why has Germany not been able to internalize the lessons of the Holocaust?

The ultimate litmus test regards the Iranian regime. And if one were to issue the German government and nearly all of its antisemitism commissioners report cards, a series of salient Fs would be noted.

Can Germany reverse its pro-Islamic regime policy? Federal elections are set for September. The verdict is still out.

Benjamin Weinthal is a research fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Charles Asher Small is research fellow at St. Antony’s College, Oxford and the founding director of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy. Follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthalFDD is a nonpartisan think tank focused on foreign policy and national security issues.

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