Germany’s Bipolar Disorder – Never Again?

Berlin Reichstag by Cezary Piwowarski, Creative Commons CC0 License

As an observer of European politics, I can’t help but think that the German government must be out of their mind. Or at least there is a dire fight within Bundesregierung between pro-Israel and anti-Zionist forces.

Germany, based on its horrible past, should be spearheading the European campaign against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in this dark era.  Yet, it has fallen to its lowest ebb since the Nazi regime. It seems Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel doesn’t get it, but it seems President Frank-Walter Steinmeier does, as heard in his heartfelt speech at Yad Vashem on January 23:

I wish I could say that we Germans have learned from history once and for all.

But I cannot say that when hatred is spreading.

I cannot say that when Jewish children are spat on in the schoolyard,

I cannot say that when crude antisemitism is cloaked in supposed criticism of Israeli policy.

I cannot say that when only a thick wooden door prevents a right-wing terrorist from causing a bloodbath in a synagogue in the city of Halle on Yom Kippur.

Of course, our age is a different age.

The words are not the same.

The perpetrators are not the same.

But it is the same evil.

It is the same devil. The devil in Berlin.

Let me explain.

At this very moment we can find at least two key pieces of criteria that indicate whether or not a country has learned from its anti-Semitic history: 1. its voting behavior re: Israel in the UN, and 2. its relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country committed to destroying the Jewish state and the #1 holocaust denier in the world.

With Germany, both indicators have been at alarming level for years and still continue to rise. Recent German actions concerning the nuclear deal, acceptance of the regime’s hostile rhetoric against Israel and creating the INSTEX mechanism to avoid US sanctions on Iran, tell us undisputedly that the Berlin-Tehran axis is far more important to Madame Merkel than the Jewish cause.

The latest episode between the two capitals was seen just a few days ago, as President Steinmeier – based on harsh criticism he earned last year as pertains to his letter of congratulations to Tehran – had decided not to congratulate the mullahs for the Islamic revolution, but despite his instructions, the German foreign ministry sent congratulations to Tehran. If the issue wasn’t so delicate, it would actually be amusing.

What all this tells us is that there seems to be different positions on Tehran between the Chancellor, the President and the government officials. If that was the case, we shouldn’t be talking about the bipolar but the tripolar disorder in Berlin.

Until recently, Jewish life was flourishing in Berlin, but, today, it is highly dangerous for Jews to give any hint in public places that they are Jewish. Don’t speak Hebrew, don’t use a kippah, don’t wear the Star of David necklace. You name it.

The German government and its Bundeskanzlerin – while condemning every anti-Semitic attack in the“strongest possible terms”, continue policies that create more hatred against the Jews and the Jewish nation. But probably – by German thinking – the recent threat to “raze Tel Aviv to the ground” as stated by Mohsen Rezaei, adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, is just rhetoric.

As a Finn, I’m proud of my president, Mr. Sauli Niinistö, who also visited Yad Vashem with his colleague Mr. Steinmeier, and then Auschwitz just a few days later, and of his words in the opening ceremony of the Finnish Parliament on February 5th:

During the past few weeks, the world has been commemorating the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp 75 years ago. I, as many other heads of state and government, attended holocaust remembrance events both in Poland and Israel. Showing respect for the memory of the victims – and survivors – of this mass destruction of unimaginable proportions is important for its own sake.

But recalling this historic tragedy also gives food for thought in the present day. Human nature has not become immune to hate over a few generations. There are signs of antisemitism and racism being on the rise, unfortunately also in Finland. We must be resolute in opposing them. They do not deserve any foothold in our society.

I hope the government of Finland, who for years has followed German policies regarding Israel and Iran, would understand its responsibility to the Jews and the Jewish state. So that never again would not only be a phrase but a real political commitment with a deep understanding of the Law of Cause and Effect.

What starts in government cabinets, never ends in government cabinets.

About the Author
Risto Huvila, a public speaker, pianist and writer from Finland, observes European and American Middle East policies and antisemitism through evangelical lenses. As chairman of the Federation of Finland-Israel Associations and vice-chair of the Finnish Holocaust Remembrance Association, he is an active advocate for Israel. Risto has authored the book The Miracle of Israel and President Truman and he appears frequently in media.
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