Iran, weapons, memory of the Holocaust: Lapid visits Scholz – politics

He has big plans for this trip, as you can see when Jair Lapid gets on the plane in Tel Aviv. Shortly before leaving for Berlin, Israel’s prime minister opened the weekly cabinet meeting with surprising and, from an Israeli point of view, good news: At least in the near future there will probably be no new international nuclear agreement with arch-enemy Iran. Now he climbs up the gangway, and at his side there is a very unusual delegation. Five elderly Holocaust survivors accompany him to his political talks with the German leadership.

Lapid, who is campaigning in Israel for elections, has drawn a wide arc for this visit: The current political situation is to be discussed with the German partners and, if possible, new directions in dealing with the Tehran regime are to be discussed. But he shouldn’t neglect what is important to him both politically and personally: remembering the mass murder of six million Jews. Right now, right here.

Lapid, 58, is the son of a Holocaust survivor; his grandfather died in the Mauthausen concentration camp. When he took over as prime minister in June, his first stop was the Yad Vashem memorial. “Never again” is at the heart of his political credo, and the fact that he is now bringing a group of survivors to Berlin can also be understood as a response to the recent appearance of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the German capital.

After Abbas’ Holocaust comparison, the two spoke on the phone. All settled, they assure

In mid-August, Abbas made a devastating comparison in the chancellery: he accused the Israeli occupying power of “50 holocausts” against the Palestinians – and the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, stood by quietly and only became violently outraged afterwards. In a telephone conversation between Scholz and Lapid in the days that followed, this was clarified and this visit was then agreed at the same time. And as Lapid now descends from the plane onto German soil, as he walks along the red carpet through the trellis of the guard of honor with those who escaped the Nazis’ annihilation mania, he declares: “This is your victory, mine as a son of a Holocaust survivor, and ours as a people and a nation.” And he adds: “We will never forget.”

On Monday afternoon, after previous meetings with Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Lapid will be standing at the joint press conference where Abbas had been almost four weeks earlier: next to Scholz. However, not inside the Chancellery, but outside in the garden. However, the airy atmosphere does not prevent the chancellor from having to comment again on this appearance with the Palestinian president, which was also a misstep on his part. He cuts it short and strongly condemned Abbas’ statements. And Lapid does Scholz the favor of thanking him for the “very clear reaction”.

Abbas, that much is clear, should not have the honor of standing between the two in whose hands the very special German-Israeli relationship now lies. However, the two could hardly be more different: the brittle Scholz as a master of defense, plus Lapid, who goes on the charm offensive at every opportunity. Israel’s head of government likes to take a very personal approach to politics. He maintains an ostentatious friendship with French President Emmanuel Macron. He has been associated with the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss since they were foreign ministers together. Now he wants to deepen the relationship with Scholz as the third in the alliance of those “E3 states” who are negotiating with Iran on the European side – and who, just before Lapid’s arrival in Berlin, expressed “doubts about Iran’s intentions” in the nuclear negotiations in a joint statement had.

These doubts, which make it highly unlikely that an agreement will be reached in the near future, are seen in Israel as a success in their own right. After all, Lapid’s government had not only always warned its partners in the West about a Tehran double-cross, but also provided them with plenty of intelligence information about it. Now it is hoped that a new edition of the nuclear agreement concluded in 2015 and terminated by then US President Donald Trump in 2018 will not only be postponed, but actually off the table.

Then it goes to the House of the Wannsee Conference – with survivors of the Holocaust

Lapid is already campaigning in Berlin for the time after, for a possibly better deal that puts the Iranians in far stronger shackles. He hopes that the US will dissuade the Tehran rulers from the path to the atomic bomb with a credible military option. He expects significantly more pressure on the regime from the Europeans. Scholz, however, makes it clear that he still thinks an agreement with Iran is “the right way”. “We remain patient, but we also remain clear,” he says. Finally, the lowest common denominator is the commitment of both parties that Iran should not have nuclear weapons.

The subject of Iran dominates Lapid’s visit to Berlin. Other important bilateral issues tend to be overshadowed. There is also progress to report on the way to a long-planned German-Israeli youth organization. In addition, the “strategic dialogue” agreed between the two countries in the spring is to be expanded. Gas deliveries from Israel to Europe should also be discussed, which could compensate for at least ten percent of the Russian supply shortfalls from next year.

On top of that, a few arms deals may have been negotiated behind closed doors, for example the missile defense system Arrows 3. Neither of them want to say more about it. Scholz, however, speaks of a “very powerful system”. Lapid confirms that there is talks, “every day and also today”.

Finally, in the afternoon, Scholz and Lapid drive out together to the house of the Wannsee Conference. There, where the Nazis planned the mass murder of millions of Jews in 1942, they now meet together with the survivors of the Holocaust who came to Berlin with Lapid, with Shoshana Trister and Pnina Katzir, with Abraham Roth, Yisrael Milah and Zvi Gill.

“I think this will be a complicated meeting for you,” Lapid said to the chancellor at noon and later praised his “moral courage”. But Scholz is “glad that we have the opportunity to discuss today”. This is also a reminder not to let up in the fight against anti-Semitism. Outside the window, the little boats sail by in an innocent idyll, inside five old people, some in tears, tell of the horror they have experienced. From the death of relatives, from beatings or cut off ears, from the cold, hunger and fear. You survived and are now giving testimony before the German Chancellor and the Israeli Prime Minister.

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