Germany’s ritualistic declarations of “Never Again” at each year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day events on Jan. 27 can perhaps be best understood by citing the late German journalist author Eike Geisel’s neat capsulation of the Federal Republic’s remembrance culture—namely, that it is “the highest form of forgetting.”
Clearly, Berlin’s actions are not influenced by it remembering the Shoah because Germany continues to enable the anti-Semitism and the military programs of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Note that Germany’s government under former chancellor Angela Merkel did not oppose the U.N. ban on Tehran’s purchasing conventional weapons. Germany also rejected U.N. snapback sanctions against Iran’s regime.
There is only one litmus test now for Germany’s new government and the so-called international community writ large: What are they prepared to do to stop the Iranian regime’s illicit nuclear-weapons program? So far, their policy has been one of soggy appeasement. In short, the world powers are enabling the Iranian regime to construct atomic weapons.
As the German-Jewish columnist Henryk Broder wrote: “The memory of the crimes of the Nazis in the meantime serves as propaganda to prepare the ground for the next ‘final solution’ of the Jews in the Middle East.”
Thus the infatuation with dead Jews and the phony remembrance ceremonies help to make many Germans feel good about themselves while they ignore Iran’s plan to obliterate Israel.
Merkel’s governments routinely went silent when Iran’s theocratic regime called for the destruction of Israel and denied the Holocaust. Just last month, the Islamic Republic published an image depicting the planned elimination of the Jewish state in 2022. The picture shows Israel composed of nails and matches, and a book of matches next to words declaring in Hebrew and English: “Just try and you will see.”
And in November, the spokesman for Iran’s armed forces, Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, urged the total destruction of the Jewish state.
“We will not back off from the annihilation of Israel, even one millimeter. We want to destroy Zionism in the world,” Shekarchi told the Iranian Students News Agency on Nov. 27.
The long list of the Islamic Republic’s calls to kill Jews goes back many years.
The business of Germany is exports. Its giant corporations and major banks are anxious to re-enter the Iranian markets. Business deals with the mullahs trump Holocaust remembrance and Israel’s security.
Berlin went as far as to have government officials advise companies on how to evade U.S. sanctions targeting Iran’s regime. Even more disturbing, a German company sold technology to Iranian businesses that later surfaced in Syrian chemical rockets. The chemical weapons were used to poison 19 Syrians. The German government’s export agency did not object to the sale of technology used for the rockets.
The German-Islamic Republic relationship continues to flourish. The city-state of Hamburg permits the Iranian regime-controlled Islamic Center of Hamburg to operate. In January 2020, supporters of the Islamic Republic used the center to mourn the death of the U.S.- and E.U.-designated terrorist Qassem Soleimani, the late commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force. German intelligence has termed the center the “long arm” in Europe of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; the center and its Blue Mosque are a hotbed of anti-Semitism.
The German city of Freiburg continues to maintain its twin-city partnership with Iran’s regime in Isfahan. Isfahan’s annual al-Quds Day rally demanding the obliteration of the Jewish state has done nothing to faze either Freiburg Mayor Martin Horn; Winfried Kretschmann, the Green Party governor of Baden-Württemberg (the state where Freiburg is located); or Michael Blume, the civil servant tasked with fighting anti-Semitism in the state.
The prestigious Simon Wiesenthal Center named Blume’s actions as one of the “Top 10” worst outbreaks of anti-Semitism in 2021. Blume stokes anti-Jewish conspiracy theories on social media and “Liked” a Facebook post comparing Zionists to Nazis.
While Germany’s federal commissioner to combat anti-Semitism, Felix Klein, gets bent out of shape about (and publicly criticized) anti-Semitism in the United States during the Trump presidency, he refuses to criticize the most dangerous anti-Semitic actor in the world: the Islamic Republic of Iran.
All this goes to illustrate that Germany has not internalized the real lessons of the Holocaust. Commemorating the fact that their ancestors played a role in the elimination of European Jewry is a meaningless gesture unless it is connected to fighting like hell for live Jews.
Katharina von Schnurbein, the German E.U. commissioner tasked with combating anti-Semitism, can’t bring herself to urge the European Union to outlaw in Europe the entirety of Hezbollah’s lethal anti-Semitic terrorist organization.
Schnurbein, Klein and Blume are symptoms of a larger illness in German society: an acute indifference to the most serious threat to the world’s largest Jewish community, and the failure to confront the widespread loathing of Israel within the Federal Republic by large swathes of the German public, including many politicians.
“To be against Israel in the name of peace is something new. … This new anti-Semitism does not arise from base instincts, nor is it the product of honorable political intentions. It is the morality of morons,” wrote Geisel.
Germany is chock-full of radical pacifists who combine their anti-Semitism with lofty notions of peace.
Geisel said that for these people, “Anti-Jewish … hostility arises from the purest human needs; it comes from the yearning for peace. It is therefore entirely innocent; it is as universal as it is moral. This moral anti-Semitism completes Germany’s restoration to goodness, in that it heralds the perfection of inhumanity: the banality of the good.”
If Germany wishes to rehabilitate its remembrance culture away from a do-nothing program that benefits Iran’s regime, it should start by cutting diplomatic relations with Tehran. The new Social Democratic Chancellor Olaf Scholz should pull Germany out of the concessionary nuclear negotiations in Vienna. Scholz’s coalition should ban all trade with Tehran and declare that if Israel is attacked by Iran, Germany’s armed forces will strike Iran’s regime. Hamburg should swiftly close the Khamenei-controlled Islamic Center, and Freiburg should end its partnership with Iran’s regime in Isfahan.
What Geisel called the “highest form of forgetting” could then be transformed into the highest form of remembrance, for it would require real deeds and not just empty words.
Karmel Melamed is an internationally published award-winning Iranian American journalist based in Southern California. Benjamin Weinthal is a research fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a Jerusalem-based Journalist.