Thursday, 27 April 2017

Archangel Gabriel

It is all over the press: Germany’s foreign secretary, Sigmar Gabriel, had arranged to include meetings with two Israeli NGOs, B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence in his programme during his recent visit to Israel. These organisations, like various other NGOs that are critical of the Israeli government are subject to intense intimidation attempts by the Israeli government that is trying its utmost to close them down and block their activities.

Israel is striding fast to become as democratic as Turkey. You may wish to visit the websites of B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence and be convinced of their importance, and perhaps even make a donation to support their activities.  

Despite Netanyahu’s attempt to blackmail Gabriel into cancelling his meetings, Gabriel did not budge. By cancelling his meeting with Gabriel, Macho Man Netanyahu was able to prove the size of his balls to his right-wing support base.

A curious coalition of German Gabriel haters and the usual voices of German Philosemites can be heard in Germany in support of Netanyahu, criticising Gabriel and even suggesting that – how not –  the man is an anti-Semite. A false, ridiculous and shameful allegation.

I expect that Netanyahu will not have such problems during next month’s visit of Duterte, Prime Minister of the Philippines, who is on record urging his citizens to kill drug addicts and who has famously stated "Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are 3 million drug addicts. ... I'd be happy to slaughter them." Duterte’s Israel diary is more likely to include meetings with Israeli arms manufacturers than with peace activists.  


  1. Don't forget the phonecall that followed the deleted meeting. Bibi does understand that he is sometimes do silly things. But Gabriel didn't play yhe game this time.

  2. Danke für Deine blogs. Du hast mal wieder voll ins Schwarze getroffen. Leider kann ich am 8. Juni nicht taktisch wählen.

  3. weiter so! Ein großartiger Kommentar. Ich bin – wenn ich das darf als Deutsche- sehr damit einverstanden.

    Greetings, a lot

  4. Your comments were again a great highlight !!!!!

  5. Gabriel, very far from being an archangel, went about his business in Israel rather like an elephant in a porcelain shop.
    Netanyahu responded the way he had to. I don't think he had a choice.
    Gauck, with his inate sensibility, managed it withpout causing offence. We shall see how Steinmeier goes about it next week.

  6. The recent furore regarding the Belgian and German foreign ministers' visits to Israel was triggered by the start of a new assertive policy by Netanyahu to rebalance and level the playing field that European countries apply to each other and other states, but not to the Jewish state. Interference in internal politics is something that the Europeans and the US for that matter take very seriously as the recent fuss over the Russians (in the US elections) and the Turkish President who tried to mobilise support amongst Turkish nationals in Western Europe - shows just how strongly the Europeans amongst others feel about this issue.

    But as is normal these days treatment of Israel is another matter and something where European foreign ministers do not hesitate to become involved in Israeli internal politics. Netanyahu is seeking to redress that balance and with firmer background support from the White House, can be expected to continue with this more muscular approach.

    The two organisations Breaking the Silence and B'Tselem are organisations that have lost completely the battle for public support inside Israel. A recent poll showed that 53% of Israelis think that Breaking the Silence should be outlawed while only 22% were opposed to this measure. So having lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the Israelis these two organisations have turned overseas to try to continue the fight externally rather than internally. To make matters more acute, Breaking the Silence receives its funding almost entirely from European governments - and Germany is a major backer. The Europeans have therefore found a new stick with which to beat Israel - namely Israelis who are themselves prepared to ignore overwhelming public opinion in Israel and thus provide ease of reference for European countries to "justify" and to continue to justify further attacking Israel on the basis of the programmes promoted by these two organisations. There is questionable morality in the campaigns of both Breaking the Silence and B'Tselem both of whom have their own political agendas.

    All of this plays well in Germany, of course, where approximately a third to a half of Germans view Israel as similar to the equivalent of Nazi Germany. Palestinians they are saying are effectively the new Jews. So domestically it makes sense for Gabriel

    to stick his neck out and to ignore the several pleas and requests from the Israel foreign ministry and Prime Minister not to meet with these two organisations on his official tour to Israel.

    On the same trip, Gabriel visited with the Palestinian Authority but notably did not meet with the Palestinian civil society groups advocating real democracy within the Palestinian area or greater accountability from the PA President Abbas. Naturally he would not have deemed to offend the Palestinian Authority with such a meeting which would directly have been seen as interfering in internal affairs.

    But with regard to Israel, for the reasons stated, it became a politically expedient thing for him to do on his trip to Israel both to support the organisation which Germany and other European countries fund and also of course because it plays well in domestic politics inside Germany. The continuing holding of Israel to double standards by the UN and the Europeans is to be deplored.

    I expect Israel now to continue to draw the correct and proper red lines around the behaviour patterns with which foreign states treat Israel - to ensure that there is a price to double standards.

    Meanwhile Israel looks eastwards to India and China to develop its future trading relationships as recent visits by heads of state and senior diplomats to Jerusalem, Beijing and Delhi have shown. Israeli goods, cyber security expertise, terrorism counter measures, defence equipment, agricultural expertise, medical breakthroughs and hi-tech industry are seemingly appreciated in significant measure. In the interim, Europe has its own problems.

    Europe is foundering, not Israel.

  7. It seems that Alex was right when he says that Gabriel is no archangel – ironically his name derives directly from the Hebrew “God is my strength”.

    The Israeli press reported yesterday that Gabriel wrote an opinion article in the Frankfurter Rundschau Daily on Tuesday of last week where he stated that “Social Democrats were, like the Jews, the first victims of the Holocaust…..”.

    Sascha Lobo (der Spiegel) tweeted “We were however also Holocaust victims!!! – wrote the Social Democratic foreign minister about Israel. Unbelievable”.

    Amongst many others, Wolfgang Wippermann, a professor of history at the Free University in Berlin, called Gabriel’s parallel “terrible”.

    His remarks were similar in some respects to those of Ken Livingstone, a former Mayor of London, who stated recently that “When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews.” Livingstone was later suspended by the UK Labour Party (but notably not expelled) for these comments and remains stridently unapologetic. Like Gabriel’s, his remarks sparked criticism from historians, Jewish groups and Labour Party colleagues and he was later confronted outside of the BBC’s studios by Labour MP John Mann, who accused him in front of TV news cameras being a ‘Nazi apologist’.

    It is not for me to opine whether deep down either Livingstone or Gabriel are antisemites, but in their psyche there seems to lurk something that resents the focus and justifiable sympathy that the Jews are accorded by virtue of their catastrophic Holocaust experience. When these men adapt that event to better suit their own agendas they move into dangerous territory.