Old Habits Die Hard: Germany Funding Palestinian Extremists / Peter Martino

April 4, 2012
It is a disgrace that the German authorities allow this to happen.

Last week, Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority [PNA], visited Berlin with several of his ministers. His visit was successful. The Germans, who pride themselves on being one of the largest sponsors of the Palestinian cause, promised almost €100 million ($133 million) in bilateral German aid to the PNA this year.

Germany has a long history of pro-Palestinian activism. By 1935 the Germans were already subsidizing a wide variety of Palestinian organizations. Berlin was especially generous towards Haj Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. The Germans subsidized the Grand Mufti, who led several anti-Jewish pogroms in the Middle East, to the amount of 75,000 reichsmarks per month.

In 1937, Husseini's friend Adolf Eichmann attempted to visit Palestine, but the British did not allow him in. Four years later, after the Grand Mufti had met German Chancellor Adolf Hitler in Berlin, Eichmann gave Husseini a tour of Auschwitz and showed him the gas chambers. Husseini reacted with great enthusiasm and began planning another Holocaust in Palestine, for which he asked German assistance. Fortunately, the German defeat in the war prevented the Grand Mufti's plans. The Grand Mufti, who also acted as the religious leader of a Bosnian Muslim SS-division, died in Beirut in 1974, at the age of 77. In a 2002 interview, his relative, Fatah Chairman Yasser Arafat, a grandson of the Mufti's first cousin, praised Husseini as a great Palestinian hero.

In 2006, Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian National Authority, appointed Muhammad Ahmad Hussein as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Three months after Hussein's appointment, the new Grand Mufti stated that suicide bombings against Israelis are "legitimate." Again, at a recent Fatah meeting in January, he quoted anti-Jewish statements advocating the killing of Jews. His statements were broadcast on Palestinian television. There is widespread admiration for Hitler being spread throughout the Palestinian Authority area, where Mein Kampf is still a bestseller.

The contemporary Grand Mufti of Jerusalem still adheres to the ideas of his infamous predecessor in the 1930s and 40s. The same applies to the Fatah leadership. Even though PNA President Mahmoud Abbas is perceived by the Western media as a "moderate," he sang the praises of the genocidal wartime Grand Mufti in a 2010 speech. He said: "We must … recall the outstanding [early] leadership of the Palestinian people, the Grand Mufti of Palestine, Haj Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, who sponsored the struggle from the beginning, and sponsored the struggle and displacement for the cause and died away from his home."

Husseini wanted to cleanse Jerusalem of the Jews. Mahmoud Abbas, too, denies that Jerusalem is a historic Jewish city. In a recent speech in Doha, Qatar, Abbas questioned the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, saying that the city "has always been and will remain an Arab city."

Unfortunately, old habits also die hard in Germany. Berlin is still one of the major sponsors of Palestinian activism. This is done in three ways: through the European Union, through bilateral government aid, and through political advocacy non-governmental organizations.

Every year, the European Union pays €400 million in so-called development aid to the PNA. The bulk of this money (as with all EU money) comes from Germany. The EU's financial assistance to the Palestinians dates back to 1971. Since then, the EU has become the largest provider of aid to the Palestinians.

Berlin also funds Abbas's Palestinian National Authority. Last year, the PNA received €72 million in bilateral German aid. This year, the German government has already promised to give up to €93 million. Last Wednesday, a delegation including several Palestinian ministers, led by Salam Fayyad, the PNA Prime Minister and a close collaborator of President Abbas, was in Berlin for a meeting of the German-Palestinian Coordination Council. Germany is the first country to hold such bilateral governmental coordination meetings with the PNA. The Council was set up in 2010 to balance Germany's holding similar regular consultations with Israel. The concept has since been imitated by other European nations.

"Germany is a friend and a partner of your government and of the Palestinian people," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told Fayyad, who returned home with the promise of €40 million from the German taxpayers for the Palestinian police force. "Our aim is a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution and we support the development of that state not just theoretically, but also practically," Westerwelle said. Germany has also formally upgraded the Palestinian mission in Berlin to that of an embassy, allowing the Palestinian representative in Germany to call himself an ambassador. In an op-ed piece in the Arab-language newspaper al-Quds, Westerwelle emphasized that Germany had been helping the Palestinian territories "for decades" and that it is "one of the largest benefactors" of the Palestinian state.

Fayyad used the opportunity to criticize what he called "Israeli settlers' violence" against Palestinians, the "excesses of the Israeli security forces" against the 4.5 million Palestinians who live under "occupation," and the "increasing pressure" on Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem.

In late April, Nabil Sha'ath, the Palestinian Minister of Planning, will visit Berlin again to discuss other German development projects in the Palestinian territories. German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said that with its aid to Palestine the Germans wish to "make a statement."

In dealing with Israel, Germany usually demands concessions from Israel towards the Palestinians. One would expect that, in return for lavishly showering the PNA with funds, Berlin would demand that PNA officials refrain from singing the praises of the former Grand Mufti, stop naming streets and schools after terrorists who have killed Israeli civilians, including children, or ban the sale of Mein Kampf in PNA areas, since the copyright of the text belongs to the Bavarian state government and no permission was granted for a new Arab publication of the infamous book. But no, such demands were not made.

The German government also provides support via leftist and anarchist Israeli pro-Palestinian NGOs. Most of this money is given through the political foundations of the various German parties, which are subsidized according to the number of seats they hold in the German Parliament, through the Institute for Foreign Relations (IFA), funded by the German Foreign Ministry, through local governments or through church organizations.

The political foundations of the leftist parties, such as the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Social Democratic Party), the Heinrich Böll Stiftung (Green Party), and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (Left Party) are particularly active supporters of biased anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian NGOs. In this way, groups advocating boycotts of Israeli products or international sanctions against the Jewish state are showered with money from German tax payers.

It is a disgrace that the German authorities allow this to happen. It looks as if Germany, realizing that it has a "good reputation" among Palestinians and Arabs thanks to its Nazi past, is attempting to avoid everything that might harm its pro-Palestinian reputation. In this sense, it is almost as if the spirit of Eichmann is still very much alive in Berlin today.

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