The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Bibi is on a roll

As the always excellent Phil Weiss puts it, Bibi Netanyahu is on a roll. First he called David Axelrod and Rahm Emmanuel "self-hating Jews", and then, in a conversation with the German foreign minister, he said the West bank should not [edit, see comments] become "Judenrein", the Nazi word for "cleansed of Jews".

Asked how Germany's top diplomat responded to hearing the Nazi Holocaust term for areas "cleansed of Jews," the confidant said, "What could he do? He basically just nodded."

(Follow Phil's links for the details.)

Which brings Germans to mind. Sixty years after World War II, they still have to suffer, financially and politically, from crimes most of today's Germans had nothing to do with. It is among the most progressive countries in the world, yet when it comes to Middle Eastern diplomacy it must accept whatever Israel says or be subject to emotional and political blackmail. If you look at the recent internal EU talks about whether the advanced status process for Israel should be frozen in light of the Gaza War, they can't do the right thing (mind you they are not the only ones: Britain is also very bad in this regard). I remember talking with a Middle East hand at the German foreign ministry a few months ago, asking them what they thought they could do to push along the peace process. He looked at me and said, "We are Germany. Our hands are tied." Behind the scenes, they have some innovative ideas, breaking away from the Atlanticist (US-UK, pro-Israel) approach to peacemaking and in some respects more in line with the more enlightened European countries. But politically, they will immediately be subject to a campaign of abuse — after all if Ariel Sharon in 2004 dismissed France as having 1930s levels of anti-Semitism, imagine what fun the likes of Bibi would have with Germany.