The unacceptable behaviour of the German Foreign Minister

April 27, 2017 by Isi Leibler
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German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel displayed unprecedented chutzpa and insensitivity during his official visit to Israel to participate in ceremonies on Holocaust Memorial Day when he scheduled meetings with organisations who accuse us of engaging in war crimes…writes Isi Leibler.

Isi Leibler

Principal amongst these is “Breaking the Silence”, which virtually all sectors of the Israeli political mainstream, including the Opposition, have condemned – not because they oppose or campaign against the government, but because they are a primarily foreign sponsored fringe entity engaged in a global campaign directed towards foreign governments to depict the IDF as war criminals.

They are not a “left wing” group. They are vicious self-hating Jews. They keep their “sources” – primarily anonymous – confidential. They do not investigate or verify their findings with the IDF which examines and prosecutes all irregularities brought to its attention but instead send emissaries abroad to undermine Israel’s image. There has even been public debate in recent months about the merits of introducing Knesset legislation to curb their global smear campaigns.

For the Foreign Minister of Germany to meet with such elements, especially during this sensitive visit, illustrates the depths to which some German leaders have sunk. Gabriel is a leader of the German Social Democratic Party in the coalition and no doubt feels that his anti-Israeli posturing may attract left-inclined voters who despise the Jewish state. It is probably no coincidence that during an election campaign, Gabriel referred to Israel in a Facebook post as an “apartheid regime for which there is no justification”.

He was disingenuous when he refused to cancel the meeting, regarding it as “totally normal” on the grounds that “You never get the full picture of any state in the world if you just meet with figures in government ministries” and considered it his obligation to also hear alternative viewpoints. Nobody questioned the Foreign Minister’s right to talk to all sections of the public including those deeply opposed to the government such as the far left and Arab representatives.

But one must draw the line between a foreign minister meeting those with opposing viewpoints and a fringe organisation like “Breaking the Silence” which has been almost universally condemned as a subversive group whose principal aim is not to criticise the government but to actively engage in global dissemination of false depictions of the IDF, the world’s most moral army, as an army committing deliberate war crimes.

Gabriel says “Imagine if the Israeli Prime Minister…came to Germany and wanted to meet people critical of the government and we said that is not possible. That would be unthinkable”.

Really? The analogy is not with people critical of the government but of those seeking to undermine the essence of Israel’s security. How would Germany’s Chancellor Merkel have reacted if on a state visit, Prime Minister Netanyahu arranged for a meeting with representatives of a group extolling the virtues of the Baader-Meinhof terrorist gang or a foreign sponsored fringe group despised by Germans of all political persuasion for engaging in campaigns to depict her police and military forces as war criminials? The analogy is even weaker when one takes account of the fact that Israel is under siege and its very existence is challenged by some of its neighbors whilst Germany faces no such threat.

Gabriel was utterly unfazed by Netanyahu threatening to cancel his meeting stating that failure to meet the Prime Minister would not be a “catastrophe” and “would not change his ties with Israel” (sic!).

It was especially sickening for a German government representative purporting to participate in Holocaust memorial to behave in this manner. He stands and places a wreath at Yad Vashem and two days later effectively embraces a subversive group seeking to demonize the IDF whose mission is to ensure our security and protect us from future holocausts and from the barbarians who seek our destruction.

Netanyahu is to be applauded for his response. It is disappointing that Isaac Herzog did not speak up and display a united front. He too has previously condemned “Breaking the Silence” as a subversive anti-Israeli organization. That at least would have sent a message to the world that Gabriel’s meeting with this group was considered inappropriate by all sections of the mainstream in Israel.

By refusing to meet Gabriel, Netanyahu made a public statement. We don’t expect special treatment but today, in the week we commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, we are strong enough to tell you to stay away if you behave with such contempt that would be considered unacceptable by any self-respecting state. Above all, we would expect more sensitive behavior from a German minister, especially one who regards himself as a potential future leader of his nation.


Isi Leibler lives in Jerusalem. He is a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.



15 Responses to “The unacceptable behaviour of the German Foreign Minister”
  1. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    Yes, the Germans have behaved a lot worse. So badly in fact that they’re fortunate to still be a country at all! I don’t think we should be too concerned with Minister Gabriel’s electorate problems, or bend over backwards with empathetic thought in regard to his local issues. He’s the Foreign Minister of Germany and that means he must think ‘internationally’. If he’s visiting the head of another country, he doesn’t fit in a talk session with a group who seek to undermine that country’s defence forces. That’s the issue here, nachon?

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      Nahon, that’s the issue presented by all and sundry, but, more so I am more concerned with yours.
      I will no backtrack on what I said and will emphasise that, while Israel and her existential principles as well as respective concrete actions are vital for us as Jews, others may, legitimately, take different approaches.
      Positions contrary to the strict and fair Zionist ones may suggest that even radical opposing views of groups LEGALLY allowed to “perform” in Israel may not be ignored “simply” because the governing powers of Israel considers them – mind you, I believe rightly so – unacceptable, even perniciously so.
      Since nobody – as I said twice here already – bothered to check with Minister Gabriel WHY he opted to visit the dreaded group, I can continue to speculate that he saw it legitimate to verify first hand how and why such antagonistic a political platform functions – once again legally – in a country for which, once again speculatively, he has special, actually non- antagonistic, interests, the kind well within the area of his official mandate.
      He would perhaps be required by his Cabinet to report on the nature and claims of the said opposition group and, then, we can also assume that he would be expected to give an accurate, comprehensive account, based what the said group presented to him… Naturally, he could have asked others, specifically in the Government , maybe even Bibi personally, but that could have been construed as tendentious, insufficiently unbiased an opinion.

      This is my short version, but, with our Henry’s permission, I could fill in at least 12 more pages. Problem is, I don’t think Jwire are financial enough to afford my fees….

  2. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    Dear Otto,
    How lovely to hear your voice through the printed word again! And I certainly don’t wish to disappoint your expectations of me, BUT the thing is if said Foreign Minister representing his government was coming to Israel on an official visit, that visit should not include meeting with a group the likes of Breaking the Silence. Not kosher at all! Not appropriate. What was he thinking of to suggest such a meeting, and to extrapolate further, did his superiors have knowledge of the proposed scenario? The plot thickens.

    Netanyahu did the right thing to cancel his meeting with him under those circumstances.

    Whether or not Minister Gabriel thinks they’re a bunch of ‘schlemeils’ or not, isn’t the point here.
    warmest wishes to you,

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat
      As we must dissect the non-event dispassionately, I would go as far as saying that our own Bibi gave course to his well timed PR tactics exploiting just a tiny bit the known dislike a good part of his and not so his electorate harbour for the Germans, regardless what they – the same teutonic ilk – do.
      On the other hand, the not quite our won Herr – almost said Reich – Bundestag Minister Gabriel has his own electorate which maybe want to see a slightly equidistant krautische official not being impressed/intimidated by a fairly pugnacious – let’s face it – Jew PM. Gabriel is more accountable to his people than to ours………
      This is how I can explain an event which, just as well, is not going to affect the, otherwise, excellent relationship between the 2 countries.

      To be hones/fair, I’ve known the Germans to behave a lot worse…………

  3. Otto Waldmann says:

    Funny – actually not at all – how with every “incident” that involves matters Jewish and/or Israeli we get a plethora of lectures about all kinda “ideological”, historic and everything a prolific ind can produce to “explain”, “clarify” and render decisive, final rhetorical blow to something which, by the end of the lectures session is totally lost…….I hope yous guys haven’t lost ME here…..

    That German FA Minister is NOT a nazi sympathiser cum propaganda mouth-piece, he is NOT a covert, overt, pervert or any vert antisemite, he did not go to Israel on an official visit, representing his Govt. , to antagonise anyone and, as I alluded before right here, nobody seemed to bother to ask him what he thought about those bloody meshige Israelis bent on no less than destroying the Jewish State – has vsholem – after talking to them. Maybe the poor kraut came out convinced, just like me and yous guys, that the abominable group in question are a bunch of shlemils, of oyf kippure of losers etc. Now, wouldn’t that be a bit of welcoming good news about being Jewish, a Zionist and, more importantly a comment kibbitz on the Yiddische “slightly” ( I wish ) broyges gravy train !!!
    I expect at least Liat to agree with me !!!

    No lectures, please !!!

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Henry, a typo again…
      please correct 2nd line from top “…. a prolific Jew can produce…”

      thanks and hope you enjoyed that meal at the restaurant on facebook prior to scaling the Harbour Bridge, as agreed……


  4. Hymie Glass says:

    The Europeans have quite a record for their hostility towards Israel as a Jewish state. Examples: German FM Gabriel, as evidenced by this meeting with the treacherous BTS; Swedish FM/Deputy PM Margot Wallstrom by her many rantings against Israel; numerous French governments who since the 1960’s openly give succour to those who threaten Israel. Obviously oil and innate anti-Semitism make a potent mixture.

    On the Israeli side, why does the government allow the existence of BTS (sounds just like BDS)? Sure, Israel is a democracy, but BTS is beyond the pale. Israel’s existence is under constant threat by the likes of Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and the quieter workings of certain Arab governments. The brave and moral soldiers of the IDF risk life and limb for the benefit of the country and they are deserving of every Jews’ support. Why should BTS, a foreign funded NGO, be unrestrained in its destructive behaviour? The Israeli government should enact appropriate legislation and ban it forthwith.

    • Leon Poddebsky says:

      There’s a dilemma: do you force an enemy to go underground, or do you allow it to operate above ground, so that you can identify it?

      • Lynne Newington says:

        It’s a little like “Jews for Jesus” movement or the likes in my opinion.
        Better be for you than against.

  5. Lynne Newington says:

    Look you have it everywhere honestly.
    Fischer who as ex Ambassador to the Holy See stating in his publication in reference to the American Jewish lobby, is run by hardliners who “gets their feeds from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, cut no slack in terms of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, not allowing a debate as to whether that is actually in Israels worst interests long term, in his view [for what it’s worth] Israel with it’s aggressive settlement expansion throughout the West Bank to the River Jordan, has become a ticking time bomb of it’s own making and amid all this, Christian minorities will continue to flee from the birthplace of their religion.
    Another Papal Knighthood coming up.

  6. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    Well, he is the Foreign Minister of Germany, so a visit to Yad Vashem at this time would be appropriate. However, what is decidedly not appropriate, as Isi says, is a Minister as senior as that coming to Israel to meet with the Prime Minister and also wishing to meet with a group of people who seek to undermine the Defence Forces of Israel, which they do under a cloak of anonymity as far as individual allegations are concerned. That Breaking the Silence is also funded by overseas organisations and used to malign Israel is a grave and irresponsible interference in the internal affairs of the country. It is good to see the Knesset of late being more careful who they allow in and seeking transparency of the funding of NGOs. Israel has been too open altogether in allowing those with ill intent to stay and report in the safety of Jerusalem against Israel, against the IDF, using any situation at hand to stir their pot.

    You would certainly not have Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, or any other Foreign Minister, going to Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel, while at the same time discussing Germany’s defence forces with a small, private group of people known to be working against those defence forces. It just wouldn’t happen.

    Sigmar Gabriel should not be accepted back into the country, with his formal status, unless he can behave himself.

    • Leon Poddebsky says:

      “…a visit to Yad Vashem” was that German’s alibi for his antisemitism.

  7. Otto Waldmann says:

    All points raised by Isi are quite salient to the complexity of the situation………… yet, just as important is to find out what Minister Gabriel had to say about the said meeting after meeting with the despised group……… otherwise we must accept at face value the respects the same German official paid at Yad Vashem.

  8. Maurice May says:

    I believe the soldiers are Israelis, so why label them?

  9. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Why on earth was someone with this German’s record even invited to Yad Vashem?
    It should have been clear that he is an extremist pro-Arab inflammatory influence, whose only contribution to “peace efforts” is to encourage Arab rejectionism.

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