During the London Olympics, for the first time in a long time, the world was forced to remember the brutal attacks of 1972, when the Palestinian terrorist group Black September launched an unprovoked and vicious attack against unarmed Israeli athletes. The eleven men who were massacred in the Olympic Village and on the tarmac at the airport as the terrorists tried to escape are rightly remembered as innocent victims who deserved so much better. Unfortunately, since the Munich attacks in 1972, West Germany and her unified successor-state has continued in a pattern of cowardice in confronting anti-Semitic terrorism, and threats to the State of Israel. It is time that Germany was held to account.
Der Spiegel, a leading German-language news magazine, has now published a report showing that immediately after the attack, West German officials made efforts to contact Black September and to assure them of immunity from potential justice in return for an undertaking not to carry out further attacks on German soil. Furthermore, not content with offering a carte blanche to terrorists to continue their campaign of violence on foreign soil, Germany offered political advancement for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in return for peace within their own borders. The moral cowardice would be enough to make your blood run cold if it was any surprise whatsoever.
The reality is both West Germany and the current unified republic have shown callous disregard for the security of the Jewish people and the Jewish state despite making frequent references to the ‘historical responsibility’ they have to Israel. By offering discounted submarines to Israel, Germany seeks to absolve itself of moral responsibility for the wider defence of the Jewish state.
There is an undercurrent in German society, particularly among young people and students, that they have had enough of having to pay the price for the Shoah as they see it. They argue that they are in no way responsible for what their grandparents did. In this, they are clearly correct. The difference is how you respond to those crimes that while you are not responsible for, you nonetheless have a deep historic connection to. Within living memory, a German government, supported by large swathes of the population, sought to destroy European Jewry. They came terrifyingly and tragically close to wiping from this earth one of the most ancient, deep and persistent cultures in human history. Their crimes bring a new responsibility to not just all Germans, not just all Europeans, but to all people. That responsibility is clear; the world cannot permit the Jewish people to ever again be so threatened, and cannot allow genocide and such crimes against humanity to happen to any group. Germany has historically, and continues, to shirk that responsibility.
Terror cannot be defeated through caving to the demands of murderers. Responding to the massacre of Jews in Germany by offering political recognition to the terrorists does not bring peace. Only once the criminal thugs have put down their arms, and undertaken never again to target civilians can compromise be mooted. By failing to do this in the case of Black September, who knows how many more terrorist attacks against Israel and Jews Germany promoted. By offering excuses today regarding the behaviour of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, how many more Jews will Germany condemn to death?
It is a question of morality and the character of a nation. Either the German people wish to place their country and their politics in contrast to those who came before, or they do not. How much progress has really been made, if now the killing is simply being outsourced?