Germany joins Iran’s ‘Down with Israel’ rally.
From Wall Street Journal Europe
It’s been a while since German military officers attended rallies that feature threats to Jews. Last month Berlin’s defense attaché in Tehran resumed that tradition at Iran’s annual military parade.
The German envoy had the privilege of hearing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promise to “break the hands” of invaders amid banners that read “Israel should be eradicated from the universe” and shouts of “Down with Israel” and “We will crush America under our feet.”
Iran’s parades are notorious for their “Death to Israel and America” slogans, which is why the European Union shuns these hate-filled spectacles. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was “very annoyed” about the attaché’s faux pas, according to a report in Der Spiegel, and summoned Herbert Honsowitz, the ambassador to the Islamic Republic, to Berlin. Mr. Honsowitz, who is known for pushing trade between the two nations, has since returned to his post and is expected to serve out his term.
This episode illustrates the fundamental problem with Germany’s attitude toward Iran: the disconnect between what Berlin says is its official policy goal — stopping the mullahs’ quest for nuclear arms — and what Berlin actually does. Germany remains Iran’s key Western trading partner. The German-Iranian Chamber of Industry and Trade counts about 2,000 members, including such big names as Siemens and BASF. In the first seven months of this year, Germany’s Federal Office of Economics and Export Control approved 1,926 business deals with Iran — an increase of 63% over last year. During that same period, German exports to Iran rose 14.1%.
For the record, French exports went up 21% during the first six months of the year, but they are still worth less than half of Germany’s €2.2 billion of exports. Britain’s exports to Tehran, only a fraction of Germany’s trade with Iran, fell 20%. And while France and the U.K. are both pushing for tougher EU sanctions against Iran, Germany is reluctant to join their cause.
Given this reality, it’s not surprising that Berlin’s ambassador in Tehran apparently thought nothing of sending a military envoy to Iran’s “Down with Israel” rally. He simply put Germany’s mouth where its money already is.