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Ahmadinejad's called the Holocaust a "myth" and said Israel should be moved to EuropeImage: AP

German Press Review: Lighting the Middle East's Powder Keg

DW staff (sms)
December 15, 2005

The German press was fuming over Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated attacks against Israel and denial of the Holocaust. Editorialists also put forward their views on how Germany and West should react.


Berlin's Der Tagesspiegel called the outrage at Ahmadinejad's accusation that the Holocaust was a "myth" justified and added that no one should be surprised by his comments anymore since the Teheran has made no secret of it hatred for the West. "His rhetoric is consistent with the Iranian revolution," the paper wrote. "The destruction of Israel is the Mullah regime's stated goal, and newspaper classifieds have advertised for potential suicide bombers who would be willing to blow up Israeli or American targets for some time."

Alarmed that Ahmadinejad could be lighting a match in the Middle East powder keg, another Berlin paper, the taz, said there are two reasons to take Ahmadinejad seriously. "First, his words are falling on fertile ground in the Islamic countries and adding fuel to the hatred of the West and Israel," the paper editorialized. "Second, the USA and Israel, who already have prepared plans to attack Iran, could see this as a welcome pretense to put them into action."

Iran Präsident Mahmud Ahmadinedschad zu Israel
Many in Germany are nervous too many people are interested in hearing AhmadinejadImage: AP

A different tack was taken by Süddeutsche Zeitung. The Munich daily remarked that the Ahmadinejad's "continued provocations scream for a response," and pondered how the West should react. European leaders have to be prepared for confrontation, the paper wrote, and "make it clear to Ahmadinejad that there are consequences to his populist campaign." However, too strict of a reaction could be equally dangerous. "If the West reacts excessively -- excluding Iran from the World Cup would be like a national tragedy -- there is the danger of escalation with uncontrollable consequences for the nuclear talks."

Diplomatic messages wouldn't be enough, according to the Leipziger Volkszeitung. "Deep outrage, the sharpest disapproval and international condemnation alone will not put an end to this rubbish," the paper wrote. But it too cautioned against barring Iran from the World Cup as the "least useful" way to achieve any result. "The Olympic boycotts in Moscow and Los Angeles showed diplomacy's helpless when it applies the thumbscrews where they will politically and economically hurt the least," the paper concluded.

The Neue Presse from Hanover commented that Ahmadinejad's words would bring the world around to the position from which Israel has never wavered. "Israel has a right to feel threatened by the Persian potentate," the paper wrote. "Tel Aviv has never left a doubt that it would pay any price, including military attacks, to prevent Iran from having atomic weapons Thanks to Ahmadinejad, Israel can expect world-wide understanding for the time being."

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung took time to analyze the background of Ahmadinejad's anti-Israeli comments. "Iran has always worked to be recognized as an actor that follows criteria of (western) reason," the paper pointed out. "That became clear during the argument with America and Europe over the Iranian nuclear program when Teheran insisted on its right to peaceful atomic technology." The paper then wondered why Ahmadinejad would provoke an argument with such "baiting" unless "he already feels so safe and close to developing a bomb" that he can afford to strengthen the West's argument against giving him nuclear technology.

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