French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel have won accolades for pushing EU members to fight anti-Semitism. That of course could be a good thing. But such high-minded pronouncements are never matched when it comes to the Holocaust-denying, genocide-threatening Iranian regime.
But one European leader, Sebastian Kurz, recently did just that.
As soon as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had once again denied Israel’s right to exist, the 32-year-old Austrian Chancellor condemned this provocation as “absolutely unacceptable.” Sadly his counterparts in other European nations — many of whom are twice his age — seem to lack Kurz’s moral clarity.
Top German politicians left the recent Rouhani derailment unanswered, and the silence is deafening. I was recently in Berlin, where anti-Semitism is growing stronger, and spoke to top politicians about two issues in particular: Iran and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). On both fronts, we see a rhetorical escalation in the attempt to delegitimize the existence of Israel.
First, let’s look at Iran. For many years we saw the Iranian anti-Israel doctrine poison the climate in the Middle East, while European policy towards Iran reeked of appeasement. In Europe’s shadow, Iran continues to pursue a policy of naked self-interest with the ultimate prize of establishing itself as the regional counterbalance to Saudi Arabia — principle guardian of the Shiite faith. Iran’s decisive bridgehead is civil war-torn Syria, whose murderous regime Iran supports with money, arms supplies, and military advisors. In February of this year, the Israeli Air Force intercepted an Iranian drone over the Golan Heights. Without a doubt Iran has burrowed itself in Syria. Never before have Iranian troops stood so close to Israel’s external border. This is in addition to its Lebanese proxy-terrorist Hezbollah which has more rockets aimed at Israel than NATO members possess.
Now for UNRWA.
Following the U.S.’s move to pull support from the group that brainwashes kids on the many “virtues” of martyrdom, German Secretary of State Heiko Maas announced a “substantial” increase in funds from his country to UNRWA. With 100 million euros in aid money, Germany remains one of UNRWA’s largest benefactors. Yes, support for the Palestinians’ quest for a better future is right and important. But Hamas and Palestinian Authority curricula funded by UNRWA amount to textbook child abuse. Nobody I met with in Berlin could assure me that the German money did not directly benefit Hamas.
On our behalf, the Middle East expert Arnon Groiss has examined more than 200 textbooks of the Palestinian Authority with regard to how these materials portray Israel and Jews. He painstakingly examined every textbook used in in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. I can summarize his chilling findings in three words: de-legitimization, demonization, and indoctrination.
Last week, there was, at least, a glimmer of hope.
The federal government condemned via Twitter “the unacceptable statements of the Iranian President Rohani … in the strongest terms.” And if the German foreign minister would follow the young Austrian Chancellor’s lead in personally denouncing all expressions of anti-Semitism including and especially Iran, it would be a powerful step in the right direction.