In a constructive move that is widely seen as a great step forward in increasing Germany’s international credibility, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spent the past few days pissing off [sic] and offending practically anybody she can get her hands on.Mind you, all the victims are remarkably easy to offend: the Palestinians, the Syrian government and Irish politicians. I hasten to add that, in my experience, the Irish people are no more easy to offend than anybody else but when it comes to their politicians, tears seem to flow with great readiness.
First off, there were the Palestinians, though it is a little unclear what Chancellor Merkel has done apart from refusing to become part of their propaganda machine. Oh, silly me, that is about as offensive as one can get.
According to the Jerusalem Post
"She did everything to provoke the Palestinians during her visit," said one official. "She showed no understanding for the plight of our people. On the other hand, she appeared to be very biased toward Israel."Put another way, she refused to equate terrorists with a kidnapped soldier, whose fate remains unknown; completely refused to accept that the Israeli fence, built to protect the country’s people is in any way similar to the Berlin Wall, built to keep the people of East Germany prisoners; refused to listen to the propaganda of the carefully chosen “leaders” of the fast disappearing Christian community.
The official claimed that while Merkel refused to meet with families of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, she focused during her talks with Abbas on the need to release kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit, who has been held in the Gaza Strip since last June. In addition, he noted, Merkel met with the families of missing IDF soldiers during her visit to Jerusalem.
At the joint press conference with Abbas, Merkel refused to answer a question about the Palestinian prisoners in Israel, the official added. "She appeared to be obsessed with the case of Gilad Schalit," he said. "But she refused to even acknowledge the fact that we have more than 10,000 prisoners in Israel."
Another PA official described Merkel's visit to Ramallah as "extremely negative and a total disappointment." He revealed that Abbas had originally requested that the meeting take place in Bethlehem, where Christians are celebrating Holy Week.
"We were hoping to show her the wall that Israel built around Bethlehem, but she refused to go there," he said. "President Abbas was hoping to draw parallels between Israel's wall and the Berlin Wall. He wanted to remind Merkel of the days when she lived in East Berlin."
Merkel, according to the official, also turned down a request to meet with church leaders and representatives of Palestinian civil societies. "Almost all the European leaders meet with Christian leaders and representatives of civil societies," he pointed out. "But Merkel refused to do so. She did not offer any explanation and that's why we are very disappointed with her and the German government. This behavior is completely unacceptable."
Let’s face it, the lady grew up under Communism. What she does not know about propaganda is not worth writing on the back of a postage stamp. No doubt, that is why she is the first of the European leaders to take this line and, while meeting Mahmoud Abbas and other politicians, to refuse a starring role in the latest episode of Pallywood.
It gets worse. On a one-day visit to Lebanon Chancellor Merkel proclaimed that Germany wanted to see an independent Lebanon and urged Syria "to cooperate with international efforts to put the suspected killers of Lebanese ex-premier Rafik al-Hariri on trial".
Even worse, she said that Syria should recognize Lebanon diplomatically, demarcate the border between the two countries and stop smuggling weapons into the country.
One could argue that this can be described as interference in another country’s domestic affairs (which is the way Syria regards Lebanon quite often) but it is no worse than Nancy Pelosi’s grandstanding in Damascus.
So much for the Middle East. It would appear that Angela Merkel has managed to annoy some Fianna Fail politicians by appearing to back Fine Gael.
In what Irish media interpreted as a snub to Fianna Fail leader, Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, Merkel made it clear in a letter to Fine Gael she favoured a change of government.Officially Fianna Fail cares not a jot but a few politicians, such as Martin Brady, have been making the obvious comments, advising Chancellor Merkel to stick to German politics and leave Ireland alone. I hope they and all their British colleagues will remember this when the American elections finally roll around and there will be no cheering for the Democrat candidate, whoever he or she may be or weeping, should the Republicans win.
"I hope that Fine Gael will be successful and will emerge as the strongest force from the election in May and will take over the responsibility of government," Merkel, who holds the EU's rotating presidency, was quoted as saying.
Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Fine Gael are allies in the same Christian Democratic grouping in the European Parliament.
As it happens, Merkel does not seem to have done anything heinous and the Irish politicians are being thin-skinned. Most politicians support parties in other countries they think they have something in common with.
Socialists from across the world address the Labour Party Conference and right-wing politicians used to address the Conservatives. These days it is Al Gore, the Party Formerly Known As Conservative listens to, but that is a separate issue.
Private letters to leaders of friendly parties are usually non-controversial, unless they are used as electoral weapons. But then, it is very easy to upset Irish politicians.