The Federal Republic of Germany’s relation to Israel Ruthless Criticism

Translation of Ch.3, Part 2 of Abweichende Meinungen zu Israel: Die politische Emanzipation der Juden durch eine Militärdemokratie mit imperialistischem Auftrag, H.L. Fertl, Resultate Verlag 1982


The Federal Republic of Germany’s relation to Israel

The will to use a foreign state to one’s own advantage by making it more favorable to the interests of the entrepreneurs and strategists of one’s own nation is the basis and starting point of all political relations that a modern state enters into with other states. This is not quite the case in the FRG’s relationship with Israel. While the ideology of friendship between nations usually accompanies the conjunctures of diplomatic business, German-Israeli relations want to be understood according to the moral principles of guilt and atonement. And indeed they were opened in 1953 with the kind of “generosity” on the part of the FRG that is usually only imposed on the loser by victorious powers and that the Western allies imposed on the FRG: with a promise of “reparation payments” to survivors and surviving dependents of the Nazi genocide of the Jews and directly to the state of Israel; a contractual promise that was actually kept, to the surprise of the Israeli partners in particular, with around 10 billion marks for Israel’s foreign exchange accounts over the course of 10 years. An impressive triumph of morality in the tough world of competition between states – the basis and foreign policy purpose of which, however, have little to do with morality.


The fact that the German government even decided to make “reparation” payments to a lot of victims of the Nazi terror and their families and also levied this line item on its people did not coincide with so much generosity that a good life should be given to everyone who had a particularly hard time in the “Third Reich.” This is contradicted by the basis for calculating the entire campaign. Compensation was (and is) paid in the truest sense of the word: for illegally confiscated assets to those who could prove them, to everyone else for lost or reduced (family) income as a result of illegal imprisonment, mutilation or the death of a “head of household” who was otherwise capable of earning money. The aim was to “make amends” for what was subsequently judged to be an unlawful state intervention into the bourgeois existence of aggrieved subjects: into their property or into their free disposal over themselves as a source of income. The entire action thus contained a brutal clarification of what the democratic constitutional state grants and guarantees its people as “protection of life” and their “freedom”: the inalienable human right to make oneself useful and to receive money for it, depending on the economic conditions for utilizing the national human material. For morally trained fanatics on both sides, this vile counterbalancing of people in terms of money gave them good reason to be outraged: for some, that there was any bargaining at all, for others, that there was any payment at all. But this hypocritical outrage was easily dismissed with the equally moralistic official distinction between historic and moral guilt, which is of course unquantifiable and indelible, and the quasi-paternal duties of the state toward its innocent victims. And somehow it was actually about the latter: not exactly about the ideology of state welfare, but rather about the revocation and correction of that anti-bourgeois relationship of the fascist state power to its subjects which was aimed not at establishing competition, wage labor and all the other components of a bourgeois existence, but at destroying the bourgeois existence of alleged “enemies of the people” who in reality had not been guilty of being state enemies at all. As a bourgeois state, as the political power suitable to a competition based on efficiency and nothing else, without any fascist deviations and exaggerations, the FRG practically “rehabilitated” itself with its “reparations” payments.


From the very beginning, the decisive emphasis was on the “re” in “rehabilitate.” For the FRG was very determined to become the legal successor, and indeed the exclusive legal successor, of the defunct German Reich. The moral costs that it incurred with this claim to continuity with the Nazi state were just the right political instrument to lend weight to this claim, and not just a moral one. “Legal succession” became a political fact with the material sacrifice that the Federal Government demanded of its people in favor of this claim and paid out to Nazi victims. And not to its own subjects – at most, they needed a few hard pointers that now, in the FRG, things should continue purely as a class society and not as a “people’s community,” but never ever in order to support their rule in its political claim to the inheritance of the undivided and whole sovereignty of Imperial Germany. The “reparations” treaty with Israel, the first international treaty signed by the FRG’s own government, turned its imperialist claim to represent the whole of Germany into a fact of international significance. Under the morally completely unimpeachable, diplomatically easily usable generic title of a “return to the family of civilized nations” achieved through active repentance, the governments of the FRG made their policy of negating the German Democratic Republic and “keeping the national question open” against the security interests of the Soviet bloc, a good deal more internationally respectable.


For this purpose, Israel was particularly well suited as a recipient of Federal German subsidy payments – partly through it, partly directly to it as the legitimate custodian of the compensation claims of all surviving Jews, all their surviving family members and even all those exterminated without descendants. It would actually have been quite contradictory if the federal government had also applied this principle to other Nazi victims and their political organs and had compensated, for example, the Soviet or even the German Communist Party for all the losses suffered by its members for the sake of their membership. It would have simply been subsidizing the enemy against whom it was aiming its claim to exclusive representation, which it wanted to make authoritative with the international compensation of debt claims against the defeated Nazi Reich. With Israel, it was the other way around, West German assistance went to benefit a state that owed its very existence to the Western powers’ interest in it and which, as a Middle Eastern outpost permanently dependent on Western support, promised one definite security, namely: to be an anti-communist bulwark. Seen in this light, the “reparation” money was by no means “given away,” but well spent – and has found and continues to find its appropriate continuation, especially since the FRG, in supporting Israel with loans and discreet gifts of weapons that are almost given away, is no longer concerned merely with national claims such as “sole representation of Germany” and “reunification,” but rather with worldwide imperialist influence. Together with its Western European partners and – in moderate competition with – America, the new West German imperialism benefits from Israel’s strength, which it helps finance, using the defeats of Israel’s Arab opponents as the business basis of its “helpful” relations with them. Israel’s militant radicalism, with its successes, gives the imperialist states – the Europeans at an always controlled distance and competition with the USA – the pleasant position of “mediator,” i.e. the authoritative arranger of political relations, which has merely been given a particularly striking expression with the all-Arab approval of an international “protection force” consisting of Italian, French and American soldiers for the Palestinians leaving Beirut. Because for them there is ultimately no way around Israel, the Arab states are more willing to get on board the political “peace” and other “offers” of Israel’s protecting powers, the more diplomatically exploitable distance there is between Israel, with its radical nationalism, and its financiers and war supporters. On the basis of the Israeli victories, the EC and NATO have turned the Mediterranean into their inland sea – and as a financier, arms supplier and profiteer of this “development,” West German imperialism is victorious too.


And it has achieved this with the best conscience in the world, which its native subjects, the citizens of the Federal Republic, have always been allowed to partake in to the full as an ideal reward for their willingness to serve the nation. The bad conscience with which the new West German nation was supposed to take up the “inheritance” of the “Third Reich” has ever since been the seal of approval of the new West German national sentiment; because this has already provided – without a trace of a wiser criticism of fascism, let alone self-criticism – striking proof of how totally different it is and thus its moral incontestability. The Nazi murder of the Jews has thus become the best moral prop for the nationalism with modesty with which the FRG presents itself; the suitably politicized German citizen cultivates his understanding of the FRG as a notoriously innocent lamb in world politics, which, along with the murder of the Jews and the world war in general, has put behind itself any morally questionable involvement in an imperialist world trade.

This extra-good West German national conscience does come at a price: German patriots who were raised in anti-Semitism have since then been forbidden the usual national arrogance toward the rest of the world in one direction, namely toward the Jews. The correspondingly hypocritical “philo-Semitism” imposed as a duty of conscience on every good – as opposed to the other, bad – German has benefited and continues to benefit the Jewish state to the extent that its military machinations benefit the “cause of freedom.” It is precisely in this respect that the slightest discrepancy should not be discovered between the Israeli state and its Jewish people. And with that, the dutiful love for the Jews at least gets its money’s worth: the forbidden West German militarism could not be as unhesitatingly enthusiastic about any victorious wars as those of the state of Israel which, in the eyes of a democratic public that ultimately agrees on the matter, has the moral right to commit absolutely any brutality on account of the “hard fate” of its subjects. Conversely, the distance from Israel’s special imperialism, which the West German Middle East policy has maintained not only, but even more so, since Israel’s Lebanon campaign, does not cancel out the morally inverted anti-Semitism of the West German national ideology. Now it is considered permissible at most to differentiate between the people and the leadership, as a nationally conscious imperialist view of the world always allows itself in the case of useful opponents and competing allies as needed. All the more reason, however, for any criticism of Begin and Co. from the West German side to be able to refer to ethnic Jews who do not agree with these rulers. The fact that the Jewish state and its people are an imperialist concoction is an insight that has the full moral force of official philo-Semitism against it – which not only and not even so much morally removes this state from criticism, but above all the imperialist purpose of this state’s existence itself, in which the FRG has such a significant share both as an investor and as a beneficiary.