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.

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Read more at Tablet

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

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform