Merkel: Must Protect Israel

From the January 2008 Trumpet Print Edition

Germany’s chancellor, in the first week of November, expressed her government’s desire to protect Israel and foster close relations between Germans and the Jewish community.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s remarks came after receiving the prestigious Leo Baeck Prize from the Central Council of Jews in Germany. After accepting the award, which recognizes those who contribute to the German Jewish community in an extraordinary manner, Merkel said she felt morally bound to bring Germans and Jews closer together.

“It took more than 40 years for Germany as a whole to accept the responsibility it carries to ensure the safety of Israel,” she said on November 6. “Only by accepting Germany’s past can we lay the foundation for the future. Only in as far as we acknowledge our responsibility for the moral catastrophe of Germany’s history can we build a humane future.”

Merkel said she felt responsible for “intervening to protect the safety of Israel today and in the future, as well as our common values of democracy and the rule of law.”

The chancellor told her Jewish audience that she would protect Israel from Iran specifically.

“How firmly do we react when the Iranian president wants to destroy Israel and to belittle the Holocaust?” she asked. “I believe that in the face of the threat Iran’s nuclear program poses to Israel, our responsibility must be more than empty words. These words must be backed up by deeds. My government will follow its words with action.”

Merkel called for tighter United Nations sanctions against Iran, saying, “We and our partners are working towards a diplomatic solution. Part of this process is a readiness on the part of Germany to agree to wider, stricter sanctions if Iran does not comply.”

Germany is one of Iran’s largest trading partners.

However, the next day, Merkel indicated in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung that Berlin would not impose more sanctions than are already in place, despite U.S. pressure. Washington has asked Germany and the European Union to enforce sanctions of their own against Iran. But Merkel said, “The United Nations is the place where sanctions [against Iran] are negotiated.”

The real story is not in Germany blunting American efforts. The real story to watch is Germany’s relationship with Israel.

Look for Germany to continue sweet-talking the world Jewish community, even to the point of guaranteeing the national security of the Jewish state. As this continues and assailant-encircled Israelis grow more desperate, Israel will turn more and more to Germany as its last best hope, while in the background the so-called peace process goes down in flames.

But also look for Germany to put self-interest ahead of Israel’s welfare and to display Proteus-like qualities. Endearing itself to Jews, even while undermining them at the same time, will prove to be a means to a deadly end. Berlin has its own interests in the Middle East, and they are decidedly not common values with Israel.