A label for the Jews, again
Barack Obama was in Berlin last week, a different Barack Obama from the one who visited the German capital as a candidate in 2008. He was in a different Berlin, too.
More than any other country that once constituted the Axis, Germany has tried to make amends for the Holocaust. It has paid reparations. Five and a half acres of the heart of Berlin is a memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. Small bronze plaques, frequently embedded in the sidewalks, are inscribed with names of Jewish families that lived there before they were taken out of their homes and sent to death in concentration camps.
Germans have understood the lessons of history and their role in making that history. Germany has become a “special friend” of Israel and has cultivated that alliance when it wasn't easy to do as a member of the European Union. But that seems about to change.
Capitulating to pressure, especially from the left-wing and anti-Zionist Green Party, Germany has joined 13 other EU members to put labels on products made in Jewish-owned factories on the West Bank, or in what Israelis call Judea and Samaria. This sends a chill along the spines of those who know the history of Kristallnacht, when Nazi thugs broke the windows of Jewish merchants across Germany, singling out shops with windows splashed with the word “Juden” or painted with the slogan “Kauft nicht bei Juden!” Don't Buy from Jews!
“Whatever one may think of the peace process and the two-state solution,” observes Michael Freund in the New York Sun, “it should be obvious that treating merchandise differently simply because the person who owns the factory where it was made is a follower of Moses rather than Muhammad is an act of pure bigotry.”
Such bigotry not only hurts Jews, but will hurt Palestinians, too, the same people the self-righteous Europeans say they want to help by labeling targets for boycott. More than 23,000 Palestinians work in Judea and Samaria. Almost half of these workers are between the ages of 18 and 29, and their average daily pay is 88 percent higher than what they would be paid in Palestinian-controlled areas. These Palestinians who work for Jews have health benefits and pensions, which are not easily obtained in Palestinian factories and shops.
These fine points are lost on the liberal Europeans who feel oh-so-good about themselves when they can read a label and look for a Jew to target for “occupying” what they consider to be Palestinian territory.
Former President Jimmy Carter pretends to be acting nobly as a defender of the labels. “This is not an anti-Israel move,” he insists, but merely a suggestion in behalf of a two-state solution.
Israel rightly identifies the labeling of Jews as the result of a double standard; similar labels have not been imposed against others in other territories in dispute. The EU counters that they're not aiming for a boycott, only to offer a “service to the consumer.”
That's what someone else said about splashing “Juden” on a Berlin storefront on a cold November night in 1938.
By adding her support to the labeling of Jews, Angela Merkel casts an ominous shadow over the good works of Germans since the end of World War II. As they say in Yiddish, it's a shandeh, a shame.
Suzanne Fields is a columnist for The Washington Times.