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German Honor, Jewish Pride

By Michael Freund
12/5/2004, 12:00 AM

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is in Israel today, and while making the rounds of Israeli and Palestinian officials, he will reportedly stop at Yasser Arafat’s grave in Ramallah to pay his last respects to the late Palestinian leader.

There is something unseemly, and downright offensive, about Mr. Fischer’s planned graveside tribute to the founder of Palestinian terror – and it would be a shame if Israel allows the incident to pass by without comment.

True – Fischer would not be the first international dignitary to make a pilgrimage to Arafat’s tomb. UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw already holds that dubious distinction.

But in light of what Germany did to the Jewish people just six decades ago in the heart of Europe, I would think that Deutschland’s Foreign Minister has an added responsibility to be a little more sensitive about such things.

After all, whatever one may think of the wisdom of signing agreements with the Palestinians, no one can deny that Mr. Arafat was responsible for the deaths of more Jews than any other person since the Second World War.

Arafat was a killer, a mass murderer, an unrepentant terrorist who ordered the deaths of men, women and children. The very idea that Mr. Fischer would see fit to bow his head in respect at the grave of such a person is an affront not only to the victims of Palestinian terror and their families, but to the entire Jewish people.

If our leadership were guided by a semblance of national dignity and pride, they would not hesitate to show Mr. Fischer the exit. No people can tolerate such a slap in the face, and neither should Israel.

Antinazi

There are indeed many Germans who have done a great deal to atone for the actions of the previous generations, and we should not lose sight of that. But when Germany’s top diplomat sees nothing wrong with honoring a murderer of Jews, it just goes to show how quickly the lessons of the past are often in danger of being forgotten.