The saying above is by the Jewish sage Shammai (Pirke Avot 1:15), who lived in Israel at the time of Jesus. It’s akin to the English expression, “actions speak louder than words.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has visited the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on several occasions and participated in official wreath-laying ceremonies there. She has frequently spoken at home and abroad of Germany’s responsibility to remember the Shoah (Holocaust in Hebrew) and oppose anti-Semitism and violence.
In May this year, on the occasion of Israel’s 70th anniversary of UN membership, the German Foreign Office declared Israel’s security as Germany’s raison d’être and pledged its support to fight against efforts to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist.
A terror organization operates on German soil
For many years, however, Israel has asked the German government to declare the Lebanese terrorist organization Hizbullah to be just that, a terrorist organization. Such a declaration would result in it being outlawed and would help prevent activities abroad that support its terror operations. The USA has likewise requested such action by Germany and all the European Union.
Hizbullah, an Iranian-sponsored Islamist Shiite terrorist group virtually controlling the Lebanese government, has been involved in several wars with Israel. Its cross-border terrorist activities include rocket attacks against Israeli civilian centers; constructing tunnels into Israeli territory; attacking and kidnapping Israeli soldiers.
Hizbullah has also conducted terrorist operations against Israeli and Jewish targets in Europe, most notoriously, the 2012 tourist bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria.
According to recent assessments by German intelligence agencies, Hizbullah currently has over a thousand operatives in Germany and, along with Iranian agents, is monitoring and collecting details on Israeli and Jewish targets for future attacks.
Hizbullah does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and, like its sponsor Iran, frequently calls for Israel’s annihilation using military means, in other words, the mass murder of Jews based upon religious and ethnic definitions.
Do the deeds reflect her lofty sentiments at Yad Vashem?
Chancellor Merkel has resisted all Israeli and American requests regarding Hizbullah. Germany and the EU have recognized the “military wing” of Hizbullah as a terrorist organization, but have obstinately refused to declare its “political wing” terrorist.
This distinction has allowed Hizbullah representatives to function in Germany and elsewhere in Europe to raise funds for Hizbullah purposes; to recruit members; to propagate its Islamist views; to spread its anti-Semitic propaganda and engage in the most vile anti-Israel rhetoric.
By contrast, the USA, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council have declared Hizbullah in its entirety a terrorist group.
What’s behind Germany’s refusal?
It appears Germany’s policy towards Hizbullah is geared towards appeasing Iran, a trading partner worth over three billion Euros to Germany annually. Like Hamas on Israel’s southern flank, Hizbullah on Israel’s northern border is a frontline proxy for Iran’s military aim vis-à-vis Israel. Iran is keen to maintain Hizbullah’s effective firepower, having helped build its arsenal of over 140,000 rockets, many with GPS-precision guidance systems that can reach any target in Israel. Too harsh a German policy towards Hizbullah, Iran’s ally, could result in Iranian ire and reduced trade.
This is also a reason for Germany’s and the EU’s support for the Iranian nuclear deal and explains continued attempts to circumvent American sanctions.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier went so far as to congratulate Iran in February on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Islamist revolution, further evidence of the policy of appeasement. No mention was made of the widespread Iranian violations of human rights in general, nor of women’s rights, nor of minority religious rights in particular.
By contrast, in 2018, Germany voted 16 out of 21 times to condemn Israel in anti-Israel resolutions at the UN.
Germany’s contrived approach to Hizbullah enables the anti-Semitic, genocidal terror organization to not only maintain, but even increase its military strength for future use against Israel.
One wonders what Chancellor Merkel would say to such a nuanced distinction with regard to another genocidal, anti-Semitic entity, had it been made in its day: What if one would have declared the murderous SS and SA cadres of the Nazi apparatus as terrorist elements, but political elements such as the Propaganda Ministry under Joseph Goebbels as acceptable? Wouldn’t we all scorn such fanciful thinking?
Some good news
It’s not all bad news from Berlin.
The German parliament, not particularly known for pro-Israel sentiment, voted on May 17, 2019, to designate the boycott-Israel movement commonly known as BDS anti-Semitic. (The goal of BDS, as stated by one of its founders, Omar Barghouti, is the destruction of the Jewish state.)
Many German parliamentarians across the political spectrum recognized the worldwide BDS campaign as reminiscent of the Nazi boycott of Jews in Germany almost 90 years ago, which had as its slogan, “Kauft nicht bei Juden!” (“Don’t buy from Jews!”). It was the first step and culminated in the “Final Solution.”
Though the chancellor today sends mixed messages about Israel, in this case at least the parliamentarians’ resolution was more than mere words as it included tangible measures to restrict BDS activities.