The German Foreign Minister’s Spat with Netanyahu Is a Political Ploy

Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu canceled his scheduled meetings with Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s foreign minister, when the latter insisted on paying visits to representatives of Breaking the Silence during his time in Israel. Benjamin Weinthal argues that Gabriel deliberately created a conflict with the Israeli prime minister to garner votes for his party in an upcoming election:

A new . . . survey shows Gabriel may very well be amplifying his hostility toward Israel’s government for his personal electoral gain. There is a huge pool of Germans who can be whipped up to vote for his Social Democratic party because of hatred of Israel. Just last week, a new independent German government-commissioned report said roughly 40 percent of Germans loathe the Jewish state. Prior to Gabriel’s visit to Israel, [a prominent polling organization] revealed Gabriel’s party running behind the two conservative parties. . . .

Gabriel stumbled, wittingly or unwittingly, into a second fiasco in the German media. He wrote in an opinion article on Tuesday . . . that “Social Democrats were, like the Jews, the first victims of the Holocaust.” . . . The [since-corrected online version] now reads: “Social Democrats were, like the Jews, the first victims of the Nazis.” It is unclear whether the print editions of the article that appeared in Cologne, Berlin, and Frankfurt issued corrections. . . .

The [German] journalist Wolfgang Pohrt captured the hubris of German elites when he described them as acting as Israel’s probation officers to prevent “their victims from relapsing.”

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Breaking the Silence, Germany, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-German relations

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy