Last week in Berlin, at a location close to both the Holocaust memorial and the former Nazi center of power, the Third Transatlantic Conference took place. Its stated purpose was to address “common solutions” in the Middle East. During the conference, Iran’s former deputy minister of foreign Affairs, Dr. Muhammad Javad Ardashir Larijani, stated that “the Zionist project” should be “cancelled” because it “has failed miserably and has only caused terrible damage to the region.” According to the Jerusalem Post, representatives from Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia also attended, and contributed their own harsh anti-Israeli statements.
Naturally, the conference also featured denial of the Holocaust, which is a crime in Germany. Larijani, whose brother Ali was Iran’s former chief nuclear negotiator and is its current parliament speaker, helpfully explained that “denial of the Holocaust in the Muslim world has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.”
In response to rumors of government financial support for the conference, a spokeswoman for that ministry said that “the Foreign Ministry did not financially support the event.” (emphasis added) Subsequently, the spokewoman did not deny that her ministry had played a role in supporting the anti-Israel conference. She also stated that the Federal Ministry of Economics had funded the conference. In short, the German taxpayer helped pay for the event, and the Foreign Ministry helped pave the way for it.
In Israel earlier this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared the security of Israel to be part of Germany’s overall national interests. However, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has come under criticism from supporters of Israel over his policy towards Iran.
Reasonable people can disagree over what the German Foreign Ministry’s Iran policy should be. One would have thought it beyond dispute, however, that the German Foreign Ministry should not be sponsoring, supporting, or faciltating a conference whose goal is to “cancel” Israel, and that the Federal Economic Ministry should not be financing such a conference.
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