Sunday, March 30, 2008

Useless conferences

Al-Ahram, 27 March - 2 April 2008

Salama A Salama
By Salama A Salama

Angela Merkel, German chancellor, was not yet born when the Nazis came to power and proceeded to commit crimes of war and genocide, of which the Jews were among the victims. She doesn't need, therefore, to recreate the guilt a previous generation must have felt. But for utterly pragmatic reasons, she did. Since World War II, German governments have made a point of placating the Israelis, mostly for reasons related to Israel's international influence.

The recent visit by Merkel to Israel was full of symbolism. The chancellor reiterated her country's lasting support for Israel and apologised for a crime in which she, and her entire generation, had no part. The move was criticised by German academics. A statement by 25 university professors said that Germany has paid its debts for the Holocaust in full and must stop favouring Israel and embrace a more even-handed policy in the Middle East.

Merkel wasn't willing to listen. Unlike some German politicians, including Gerhard Schroeder, who had the vision to take a relatively impartial stand on the Middle East conflict, Merkel, with her fragile coalition, chose to take sides. The German chancellor voiced her support to Israel despite the latter's sabotaging of peace efforts and its building of settlements on Palestinian land. Merkel, who denounced at length Iran's nuclear programme, had nothing to say about Israel's stockpiling of nuclear warheads and its opposition to the creation of a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East.

Continued . . .

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