Germany should spurn the wooing Ahmadinejad
Bridget Johnson, Daily News:
RECENTLY, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, out to write more lengthy letters than Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, penned a tome to new German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seeking to draw the country into its axis by painting Germany as a modern-day postwar victim of the vanquishing Allies.
"The propaganda machinery after World War II has been so colossal that has caused some people to believe that they are the guilty party by historical accounts and must pay ... for indefinite period of time," Ahmadinejad wrote. "But just imagine where Germany would be today in terms of its eminence among the freedom-loving nations, Muslims of the world and peoples of Europe, if such a situation did not exist and the governments in power in Germany had said no to the extortions by the Zionists and had not supported the greatest enemy of mankind." READ MORE
Surely any nation should dismiss the crafty alliance-building of this Holocaust denier ("I have no intention of arguing about the Holocaust," Ahmadinejad wrote as he launched into paragraphs about why Germany shouldn't let others make them feel bad for it), knowing there is always an ulterior motive in his olive-branch extensions.
But according to Iran's propaganda machinery, no offense was taken.
A few days later, on Sept. 2, Iran's official news agency was boasting that the letter opened a "new chapter" in German-Iranian ties, political as well as economic and cultural. "The German ambassador pointed to the great number of common traditional interests between the two sides and said that his country is prepared to expand bilateral ties and strengthen cooperation in various fields," reported IRNA.
Based on his own anti-Jewish, nationalist agenda, Ahmadinejad's letter clearly tries to appeal to latent anti-Semitic attitudes, believing that Germany is full of bitter nationalists sick of Shoah education and hostile toward Israel and her supporters.
Sadly, he could be on to something.
Today's Germany is a crossroads of the ingredients that empower the Ahmadinejads of the world. You have your traditional far-right Neo-Nazis; add that to a new victim complex regarding WWII being pushed by German historians. You have the neoliberals whose view of Israel as genocidal monsters - while conveniently dismissing Palestinian suicide attacks - blurs any distinctions between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
And you have a burgeoning Muslim population that has exerted its sometimes extremist influence in a nation timid of appearing xenophobic. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were planned in Hamburg, and terror came close to home July 31 when two suitcase bombs were planted on Cologne trains but failed to explode. Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahir was banned in 2002, and Germany is feeling the strain from the culture clash of about 3 million Muslims, mainly Turkish immigrants, and dozens of "honor killings" of Muslim women in the country over the past decade.
"The situation in Germany is particularly telling," Lorenzo Vidino wrote in Middle East Quarterly. "More than anywhere else in Europe, the (Munich-headquartered) Muslim Brotherhood in Germany has gained significant power and political acceptance. Islamist organizations in other European countries now consciously follow the model pioneered by their German peers." The Muslim Brotherhood concurs with Ahmadinejad's now-infamous statements about Israel.
"I believe we and you have both been the subject of tyranny," the Iranian president wrote. "We must make the shadow of World War II disappear ... To the extent that I know of the people of Germany, they will come along and join us and want (to) restore their dignity."
Adolf Hitler appealed to Germans wanting to restore their dignity after World War I.
Germany's best response to Ahmadinejad's letter would be three crisp words: "Return to sender." Those who think the European Union will actually solve the Iranian nuclear crisis would consider this poor diplomacy. Those who think Germany can't afford to sell its soul and bed with the devil again will find it just right.
Last Wednesday, Germany - among the nations to decide whether Iran will face sanctions for ignoring the U.N. Security Council deadline of Aug. 31 for freezing nuclear enrichment - became the first nation involved in the nukes negotiations to vow that military force against Iran would never be an option. Amazing what a little love letter can do.
Bridget Johnson writes for the Daily News. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.