Germany’s Hypocritical Commitment to Robust Economic Relations with Iran

Sept. 28 2018

Immediately after the nuclear deal was concluded in 2015, German companies sprang at the opportunity to trade with the Islamic Republic. Much of this business—which involves 10,000 companies—is backed by the German government’s credit guarantees. Since the U.S. withdrew from the agreement and began re-imposing sanctions on Iran, Berlin has led efforts to combat the sanctions and keep Tehran in the global economy. Benjamin Weinthal notes the irony of this support for a blatantly Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic regime from a country whose governing class deems itself the conscience of Europe:

[The German chancellor Angela] Merkel and her foreign minister, Heiko Maas, . . . are now working overtime to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran. Maas, who claimed earlier this year that he entered politics “because of Auschwitz,” argued for an alternative method to facilitate financial transfers to the radical clerical regime in Tehran. . . .

The moral and economic danger represented by Merkel’s emergence as Iran’s major champion in Europe has been a kind of secret that dare not speak its name in the media and among the chattering classes in the Federal Republic. A rare exception in a country that does not have the Anglo-American tradition of aggressive investigative reporting was the BILD newspaper’s exposé of a German company that sold material to merchants based in Tehran. The components were later found in Iranian-produced rockets that contained chemicals used to gas Syrian civilians in January and February of 2018. . . . Germany’s export-control agency [has stated since then] that it will not bar the sale of such material in the future as a “dual-use” good that can be used for both military and civilian purposes. . . .

As shown by Maas’s [public visits to] concentration camps, and frequent invocations of the “lessons of the Holocaust,” it would appear that memorializing the Holocaust can be a way for German politicians to inoculate themselves against criticism for their unwillingness to confront the lethal anti-Semitic Islamic regime in Tehran. Moreover, the Holocaust commemoration process leads many Germans to believe they are actually on the side of the Jewish state, even when their government is not.

The German society’s so-called “working through of its past” can also culminate in large numbers of Germans, to paraphrase the writer Wolfgang Pohrt, behaving as Israel’s probation officers, acting on the highest moral grounds to stop “their victims” from recidivism. This form of morality-animated anti-Semitism is quite widespread in the Federal Republic, where a recent government-commissioned anti-Semitism report revealed that 40 percent of Germans across the political spectrum hold anti-Semitic attitudes.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Tablet

More about: Angela Merkel, Germany, Holocaust, Iran, Israel, Politics & Current Affairs

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter