Out of the blue, a friend of mine said that he was uncomfortable with the fact that Israel was patrolling the Persian Gulf with two U-boats that Germany had given to Israel as a present and which Israel had armed with nuclear weapons.
My friend continued and explained that the whole world knows how in 1981, Israel had “started a war with Iraq” to bomb its nuclear reactor and that it was now planning to do the same with 17 nuclear sites in Iran. He added that the Iranians were not stupid and that they had buried their sites deep in the earth and that Israel was mad with its plans to attack Iran with those two small U-Boats.
I blew up. But he was adamant, yes, he said, he knew that those were Israel’s plans and this would not be Israel’s first mistake. Israel, after all had gone into that war in Gaza and a couple of years ago in Lebanon. I explained that I had no idea what Israel’s plans were and that I doubted very much that my friend had any inside information from the depth of Israel’s – probably non-existent – strategic planning. However, I reminded the flabbergasted dinner table – flabbergasted because of my reaction – that unlike Germany or any other country in the world, Israel had enemies that made clear their wish to annihilate it. Iran is one such enemy and that country has now been allowed to become nuclear.
Before Israel allows Iran or anyone else to annihilate it, it will strike. I have no moral qualms about that. My German friend does. Israel is not considering the other six billion inhabitants of the earth, he said. Some Germans are rightly uncomfortable with the fact that Germany had started two world wars. My friend is taking this discomfort a step further: he is terrified by the idea that German U-Boats – be they in Israeli hands- could trigger a third world war. This would be a third world war that could be laid at Germany’s door.
Israel’s irresponsible and immoral conduct vis-à-vis the Palestinians produces more and more anti-Israel sentiment. The willingness to accept a serious threat to Israel’ existence is where such sentiment should not be allowed to go.
Two days later, at a different dinner party in Germany, I was lectured to by a German lawyer. This man explained to me how well Israel had done in the last twenty years. Every year – he told me – Israel enlarges the territory that it populates; every year it cultivates more land. To top it all, Israel manages this without waging war.
Choosing who to dine with is an art.