For Germany’s Foreign Minister, Defaming Israel Takes Priority over Diplomacy

Aug. 30 2017

Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, had planned an official visit to the Jewish state last April on no less somber an occasion than Holocaust Memorial Day. Gabriel announced that while in Israel he would meet with representatives of Breaking the Silence and B’tselem—two “human-rights” organizations far more dedicated to defaming their country than to protecting anyone’s rights. In response, Prime Minister Netanyahu refused to meet with Gabriel as planned unless the foreign minister canceled these meetings—a decision applauded even by many Israeli opponents of Netanyahu. Thus Gabriel came to Israel, met with the two organizations’ representatives, but not with the prime minister. Gadi Taub comments:

Before the Gabriel affair few Israelis were aware of how popular it is in Germany to compare Israel with the Nazis. But one has to admit that it does have its own perverted psychological logic. If the Jews are now victimizers, not victims, does that not partially alleviate the terrible burden of German guilt? . . . By refusing Netanyahu’s request and lending his support to organizations bent on demonizing Israel, Gabriel made many wonder whether he was not in fact engaged in exactly this kind of politico-psychological game, which may appeal to his own constituency at home. . . .

[In fact], upon his return to Germany, Gabriel said to the Frankfurter Rundschau that the Social Democrats, his own party, were, along with the Jews, among “the first victims of the Holocaust” (this was later changed on the paper’s website . . . to “the first victims of the Nazis”). So after using his state visit to look at Israel through the lens of organizations emphasizing our sins, and thus classifying us as victimizers, was he now making himself the victim (by proxy), and not just any victim, but a victim of Nazism? Where was all this heading? It brought to mind the bitterly sarcastic quip attributed to the Israeli psychiatrist Zvi Rex: “The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.” . . .

All this, we should note, was carried on in the guise of high-handed—and decidedly condescending—rhetoric. Gabriel, by his own account, was helping to instruct us about the dangers of nationalism—Israel’s—and the virtues of “European values” and democracy. But despite the immaculately humanitarian vocabulary, it was not hard to sense that something very sinister was afoot, since the minister’s interest in malignant nationalism and human rights seemed to be selective. He was apparently more interested in cases where Israel could be blamed. He had no plans to meet any civil-society organizations that document Palestinian abuses of human rights, and his high-minded exhortations against Jewish nationalism were not matched by any criticism of the murderous sort of xenophobic nationalism that the Palestinians habitually—and institutionally—encourage in their people, especially their young.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, 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