by Roy Tov
Monday, April 9th, 2012
In the last month, there was an accumulation of odd news items concerning German humiliation by Israel, culminating with two truly odd affairs. German Nobel laureate Gunter Grass was declared persona non grata in Israel, and Richard Wagner’s music was rejected by the Israeli Opera as an overture for a show by a U.K.-based Israeli choreographer. Some of these events—if not all of them—were purposely performed by Israel. In the fashion favored by Security services all around the world, let’s make a short review beginning from the end, before asking Israel a tough question.
On April 8, 2012, Hebrew media announced that Israeli Opera director Hanna Mantis has asked Jasmin Vardimon to replace the overture of Richard Wagner’s “Tannhäuser,” which features in the opening scene of her show “7734,” with another musical piece. The piece was created in 2010 for the Royal Opera; her author, Jasmin Vardimon, is an Israeli choreographer based in London. Make no mistake; it was the Israeli Opera that invited her to perform in Tel Aviv, Ms. Vardimon didn’t force her work on Israel. The invitation was conditioned that the overture of her show would be changed. This odd–if not insolent–request was placed because Israel considers Wagner an anti-Semitic and his descendants’ ties to the Nazi party. For the first time in human history, and in contradiction to what the Bible teaches, Israel claims one is responsible for the crimes committed by one’s descendants. If this is true, then Israel has already stained its descendants forever.
Jasmin Vardimon complied with the Israeli request. She didn’t have even the integrity necessary to point out that the relevant work–Tannhäuser–centers on the struggle between sacred and profane love, especially on redemption through love, a main theme in Wagner’s work. Probably, this is the real cause for the censorship; Israel’s consistently avoids topics related to love, especially of the other. Israel proposes not only an antithesis to the Bible, but considers the verse “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:” (Leviticus 19:18) its ultimate Nemesis.
On the same day Jasmin Vardimon stained her own work with shame, Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared Gunter Grass persona non grata in Israel. According to Mr. Yishai, this was for his wearing an SS uniform in the past, fact that was disclosed by Gunter Grass himself in 2006. Why did it take six years for Israel to respond to this? Yishai helped us to solve this riddle. “Grass’ poems are an attempt to guide the fire of hate toward the State of Israel and the Israeli people, and to advance the ideas of which he was a public partner in the past, when he wore the uniform of the SS,” Yishai said. “If Gunter wants to continue publicizing his distorted and false works, I suggest he do it in Iran, where he will find a supportive audience.” Mr. Yishai, please have mercy on us; next time mention the real reason first.
“What must be said” is the name of the poem that infuriated Israel. The work is critical of Israel’s role in the Israel-Iran conflict, claiming the Zionist country is a threat to world peace. He claimed in the poem that Israel’s nuclear reactor—and not Iran’s—presents a threat to world peace. The poem calls for Germany to cease supplying Israel with submarines, and warns against an Israeli strike on Iran. In other words, Israel is censoring perfectly sensible and legitimate views only on the grounds that they do not support Israeli ongoing violence. Silly me, I thought Israel was the only real democracy in the Middle East. What a fool!
On March 21, 2012, Israel and Germany signed at Israel’s embassy in Berlin an agreement for the supply of the sixth Dolphin class submarine to Israel. The agreement was achieved after a delay caused by Germany conditioning the deal on concessions to the Palestinian Authority. On December 4, 2011, it was disclosed a German submarine had hit Netanyahu’s office, Welt am Sonntag claimed Germany had told Israel in November 2011 that it could not go ahead with the sixth submarine purchase unless Israel transferred the frozen budget to its legal owner, the Palestinian Authority (see Sanctions on Israel Redeem Germany). An upset Netanyahu surrendered on November 27 and opened the way to the last leg of the negotiations process, which ended last month. As analyzed in Six Million Submarines, this submarines are the most strategic and expensive weapon owned by Israel and form the basis for its second strike capabilities. In other words, Germany helped Israel in its dearest project.
Considering this, one would expect at least a nice “thank you” from Netanyahu to Merkel. He could send her a few roses with a nice note. Israel being Israel, the response was brutal. While the ink on the new submarine agreement was still drying, Israel announced on March 25, a planned re-freezing of the Palestinian budget. The offensive move was strengthened by a decision to ban the Human Rights Council of the UN. “Ignore all phone calls from Rights Council Commissioner,” said Israel’s Foreign Affairs Minister to the Israeli envoy in Geneva (see Israel Hits Back at UN, Palestine and Germany). What Israel did to Germany (unfreeze Palestinian monies in order to reach an agreement on the sixth submarine, and then freeze the money right after its signature), is the mother and father, and probably even the grandparents, of all humiliations in international relationships. Like Jasmin Vardimon, Germany complied.
It is difficult not to see humiliation of the other as a systematic tactic of Israel. This is true not only towards the German. In the past I showed how the same behavior is applied towards Palestinians, especially towards Mahmoud Abbas, Israel’s closest partner. Bringing additional examples is easy. This is the antithesis of the “redemption through love” motif in Wagner’s work. This is the antithesis of godly behavior. This is just savagery.
It would be easy to write a sermon explaining the issue to Mr. Netanyahu and his “Warring Family.” Yet, as the Hebrew proverb says, the message “will fall on circumcised ears,” in other words, it won’t be heard. Thus, dear Mr. Netanyahu, let me speak the language you can hear, the language of war. Following WWI, the Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to relinquish several territories and demilitarize the Rhineland. It imposed economic sanctions, and levied heavy reparations on the country. Many Germans perceived the treaty—especially Article 231, which declared Germany responsible for the war—as a humiliation. This feeling is considered today as the main reason for the rise of Adolf Hitler and the beginning of WWII. Mr. Netanyahu, are you trying to impose a new Treaty of Versailles on Germany? Why are you systematically humiliating the most strategic partnership Israel has?
Mr. Netanyahu, I beg you, can you explain that to us logically? If you do so, people may arrive at the conclusion they are wrong when criticizing Israel. If you do so, you may be able to recruit a few new allies, who are badly needed by your crumbling, violent regime. If you do so, you may be even be sympathized with. Yet, here is Israel’s problem: you can’t justify your violence and lack of love towards everybody, including Jewish children starving on Tel Aviv’s streets. Humiliation backfires, Mr. Netanyahu, and that is what will happen to you.