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Israeli Lobby Targeting Germany-Iran Ties

4 May 2016 11:09


A German political analyst said Israeli lobbyists active in Germany are making every attempt to stop Berlin from rekindling ties with Tehran following the removal of anti-Iran sanctions.

“Often the Israel lobbyists in Germany present themselves as ´democratic activists´, ´human rights activists´ or even ´peace activists´. The last group is dominant when it comes to preventing Germany from establishing normal relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Manuel Ochsenreiter told the Tasnim News Agency.

Following is the full text of Ochsenreiter’s comments.

Foreign lobby activism in general is one of the biggest challenges of today´s Germany. Because our political elite has no sensitivity at all for those lobby activities. That makes them take decisions on behalf of foreign countries such as the US, Turkey or Israel and not behalf of our own German national interests.

The Israel lobby in Germany presents itself in a huge diversity of organizations, clubs and influential individuals. Important: Many of these ´agents of influence´ are not Jews. There are many Christian – mainly protestant – lobbyists and even dedicated atheists are playing an important role in the Israel lobby in Germany. That means: Israel is not portrayed always as the ´Jewish state´ or ´Jewish homeland´, but idealized as ´the only democracy in the middle east´, a ´western-liberal and tolerant entity´ which is threatened by ´backwarded´ Arabs or Muslims. Often the Israel lobby activists empathize the example of gay pride parades in Israel as an example for ´liberty´ and ‘democracy´.

Often the Israel lobbyists in Germany present themselves as ´democratic activists´, ´human rights activists´ or even ´peace activists´. The last group is dominant when it comes to preventing Germany from establishing normal relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Attacks against religious institutions are a general problem in the West. Those attacks are directed mainly against Christian churches, Islamic mosques and Jewish synagogues. All such attacks are unacceptable, they show in general the lack of respect towards religion. And they rise the tensions within our societies.

There are some important differences between the Israel lobby and other foreign lobby organizations in Germany. Generally: Foreign lobbying is a normality in any Western state, we have in Germany also a very strong Turkish lobby for example. What is the purpose of those lobby organizations? There are in general two: They are active to achieve advantages for their expats living in Germany and they want to influence the foreign policy of Germany on behalf of the interests of their country. The Turkish lobby for example is stressing for the interests of the Turkish migrants in Germany and campaigns within the German political elite for a full EU membership of Turkey.

One can criticize the activities of the Turkish lobby in Germany, one can criticize the Turkish president Erdogan and one can criticize the politics of Ankara. Some Turks might be not happy about this, but also this is a normality when it comes to foreign lobbying in general. But the Israeli lobby established a dominant position for itself with the help of a very strong narrative: ´Israel critics is hidden anti-Semitism´. The accusation to be an ´anti-Semite´ is one of the sharpest weapons of the lobby. Because such an accusation can destroy an individual here. So the consequence is: People are rather silent than saying anything critical.

The narratives of the Israel lobby are widespread in Germany. The influence starts already in our education system, in the schools. There is the narrative of the inter-generational guilt – or as some say today: ´responsibility´ – of the Germany when it comes to our relation with Israel. ´Guilt´ or ´deutsche Schuld´ is the most valuable currency of the lobby. I give you an example: When I criticized in a debate some months ago the activities of the lobby in Germany, an Israeli lobbyist answered immediately: ´You see, we need Israel that our people don´t have to live in countries with anti-Semites like you!´ Mission accomplished. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted in 2015 the spokeswoman of the Israeli embassy in Germany that Israel has an interest in ´keeping the Germans in guilt´ because otherwise Israel would be in the eyes of the Germans ´just a normal country as any others´.

The activities of the Israeli lobby are not limited on German foreign politics. The lobby is also influential in media and culture. Movies or theatre pieces empathizing the Israeli politics towards Palestinians are demonized as anti-Semitic´.

When it comes to our relations with Iran, we can see the influence of the lobby. After the sanctions against Iran were lifted the business relations between our countries – which used to be good in the past because we share mutual business interests – didn´t really recover. The question is why? Why does German business hesitate to re-establish good relations with their Iranian counterparts? Where is the problem if it wasn´t the sanction-regime against Tehran? The answer is given by the German government: Just some days ago a German government speaker stressed that there can be ´normal´ relations between Germany and Iran only if Tehran recognizes Israel. Such an approach is unique in our foreign relations policy. Berlin has many normal relations to countries which are hostile with each other. One example: Germany has good relations with Turkey and Armenia despite the fact that frequently Turkish politicians are demonizing Armenia. And Armenian politicians are demonizing Turkey as well. But Berlin doesn´t care. Neither the Turkish nor the Armenian lobby are strong enough to influence Berlin´s relations towards their opponents.

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