July 15, 2006

Pavlovian Dogs

From IRIS: Israel is shown in blue. Mauritania, Sudan and Somalia are somewhat cut off at the edge of the map.

Germans are suffering from an acquired reflex: Each and every time the word "Israel" resounds, they start slobbering and salivating. The tiny little sliver of land more than 3000 km away is the focal point and catalyst for everything that is great and good in Germany. Never mind hundreds of thousands killed in Sudan, never mind the decade-long occupation of Tibet by China, never mind the security wall that India has put up to protect itself against Pakistan and the millons of people involved in all this. Who cares? It's Israel that makes the German glands work overtime.

The examples of what Wolfgang Pohrt once called the "Michel Syndrome" (the Germans themselves call it "our special relationship with Israel"), namely the obsession to "stand with praise and censure at Israel's side as ethical probation officer to keep the victim from committing a second offence", are many. In fact, there are 564 hits for a Google search "besonderes Verhältnis" + Israel + Deutschland". A few freak matches and more than fivehundred moronic, hypocritical hits about how much Germany cares for Israel by siding with her deadly enemies.

This is coupled with a healthy sense of "Am Deutschen Wesen soll die Welt genesen" (The German Being Will Heal The World), even though we don't call it that anymore. But we feel deeply concerned and STILL know what is good for others, although we have learned and changed our methods.

Take Walter Kolbow, deputy chairman of the SPD (Socialdemocratic) parliamentary faction of the Bundestag who thinks that Israel has violated international law by invading the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. Israel, according to Kolbow, should join negotiations "unconditionally" with a ceasefire and abandonment of all violence as the goal.

Hamas will LOVE that idea, Walter!

Thursday, Kolbow returned from a 4-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories., which had obviously served as a crash course and turned him into an expert. By the way, where were you, Walter, when the Pals bombed Sderot and kidnapped those soldiers? Wasn't that "against international law" as well?

Let's not forget that this is the same Kolbow, who wrote at his faction's website after Hamas had won the elections:
"Im Sinne eines friedlichen Zusammenlebens beider Völker und der dringend notwendigen Fortsetzung des Friedensprozesses ist zu wünschen, dass auf beiden Seiten Vernunft und Pragmatismus schnell die Oberhand gewinnen."

"On the grounds of a peaceful cohabitation of both peoples and the sorely needed
continuation of the peace process it is desirable, that on both sides common sense and pragmatism will prevail."
In the meantime, Hamas has proven impressively what they think of "common sense and pragmatism" and Kolbow and his ilk give a damn.

Of course, Kolbow is not a lonely caller in the desert. Minister for Foreign Aid Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, for example, condemned the Israeli "attacks" as "inacceptable from a point of view of international law, and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Saniora had a cosy twosome on the phone where they agreed to "push for a return to calm".

What that means is clear. "All powers in the region who are involved" are supposed now to "make an active contribution to de-escalation". Irrespective of their previous contributions to escalation, of course. After all, "proportionality" and "symmetric reactions" is what we need.

"It is necessary to break the spiral of violence," so Steinmayer, using a well-worn cliché. (I guess he couldn't help himself.)

What "spiral", Frank-Walter?

Some weeks ago, after Shimon Peres made it clear that Israel wasn't prepared to wait until Iran would follow through with their threat to create a Zionism-free world, the German newsmagazine FOCUS online dubbed the now famous headline: "Israel Threatens to Defend Herself", a nice Freudian slip.

The roles in the Middle East conflict are firmly cast in Germany, and Israel is the bad guy. Always, in any case.

And THAT is the "special relationship".