Last week, the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung reported that Israel asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop funding the Jewish Museum in Berlin, among other institutions (cited in Haaretz).
The reason behind the demand was the museum’s exhibition on Jerusalem, which “presents a Muslim-Palestinian perspective of the city,” the report said.
The letter was sent directly to the chancellor’s bureau and not through the Israeli embassy, where Merkel was also asked to defund other organizations that Israel claimed were anti-Israeli. These included the Berlin International Film Festival, pro-Palestinian Christian organizations, and the Israeli site +972 Magazine, which receives funding from the Heinrich Böll Foundation.
The Israeli paper Yediot Aharonot picked this up and asked the Israeli government for a response. Here it is:
“The prime minister raised the issue of defunding Palestinian and Israeli groups and non-governmental organizations that depict Israel Defense Forces as war criminals, support Palestinian terrorism and call for boycott of the State of Israel. Israel will continue fighting these organizations”.
This contains an obvious indirect reference to the military whistleblower organization Breaking the Silence.
Last year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu snubbed the German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel who was on visit, as Gabriel was planning to meet with Breaking the Silence as well as the human rights monitoring group B’tselem. Netanyahu had issued an ultimatum to Gabriel to cancel meetings with both organizations, which Gabriel refused to do.
Gabriel responded by saying that it would be “regrettable” if the meeting with Netanyahu were cancelled, and reflected that it would be “inconceivable” for himself to cancel a meeting with Netanyahu if the latter chose to meet figures critical of the German government. “You never get the full picture of any state in the world if you just meet with figures in government ministries,” Gabriel told the German TV channel ZDF.
Netanyahu then abruptly cancelled the planned meeting with Gabriel, his office stating:
“Netanyahu’s policy is not to meet foreign visitors who, on diplomatic trips to Israel, meet with groups that slander IDF [Israel Defence Forces] soldiers as war criminals. Diplomats are welcome to meet with representatives of civil society but Prime Minister Netanyahu will not meet with those who lend legitimacy to organisations that call for the criminalisation of Israeli soldiers. Our relations with Germany are very important and they will not be affected by this.”
That which is rightly inconceivable for the German Foreign Minister, is completely natural for Israel. It is not worried about enacting totalitarian censorship and putting the German liberalism ‘in place’. Because Israel has a ‘special relationship’ with Germany. It is ‘special’ in an abusive sense – as Israel actively exploits Holocaust guilt.
Three years ago, in an off-the-record comment to journalists, Israeli Berlin embassy spokeswoman Adi Farjon said that Israel had no interest in full normalization of relations with Germany, and that it was an Israeli interest to maintain German guilt feelings, because without them, Israel would be “just another country as far as they’re concerned.”
“We were all in shock,” said a female journalist present at the briefing, which was also attended by the Israeli ambassador himself, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman.
“It was so awkward”, commented another Israeli journalist.
“We couldn’t believe our ears. We’re sitting there eating peanuts, and behind the spokeswoman there are two German women sitting there who don’t understand a word of Hebrew – and the embassy staff is telling us they’re working to preserve the German guilt feelings and that Israel has no interest in normalization of relations between the two countries.”
So that’s what “special relationship’ means. It means that Israel can snub German politicians, act out of protocol and call for political censorship from top to top, and the Germans need to take it lying down, because there’s the Holocaust.