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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 10, 2003

The German Foreign minister is a thug


February 12, 2003 -- "Excuse me. I am not convinced."- German Foreign
Minister Joschka Fischer, lecturing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in
Munich last week, after Rumsfeld's argument for war against Iraq.

MR. Rumsfeld may have convinced the leaders of 18 European nations, but not
you, Mr. Fischer. It's personal: The question of failing to convince must be
seen in the context of who we have failed to convince. Sometimes "who"
explains "why."

Mr. Fischer, who are you?

You are the foreign minister of Germany. You have been that since 1998, when
Germany's left-wing Greens Party, of which you are a leader, won enough in
the polls to force the Social Democratic Party into the so-called Red-Greens
coalition government.

But for the formative years of your political life, you were not man in a
blue government suit. You were a man in a black motorcycle helmet. That is
what you were wearing that day in April 1973 when you were photographed, to
quote the New Left historian Paul Berman, "as a young bully in a street
battle in Frankfurt."

In 2001, Stern magazine published five photos of you in action that day.
What these depicted was described by Berman, in a deeply informed
25,000-word article, "The Passion of Joschka Fischer" (The New Republic,
Sept. 3, 2001).

The photos showed you, Mr. Fischer, inflicting a "gruesome beating" on a
policeman named Rainer Marx: "Fischer and other people on the attack, the
white-helmeted cop going into a crouch; Fischer's black-gloved fist raised
as if to punch the crouching cop on the back; Fischer's comrades crowding
around; the cop huddled on the ground, Fischer and his comrades appearing to
kick him."

As Berman reported, Mr. Fischer, you rose in public life as an important
figure in the anti-American, anti-liberal, neo-Marxist, revolution-minded
German radical left of the generation of 1968. This was the left that
produced and supported the Baader-Meinhof Gang (or Red Army Faction), which,
as Berman wrote, "refrained from nothing," including "kidnappings, bank
holdups, murders."

You were not a terrorist yourself, but you were a good and active friend to
terrorists, weren't you, Mr. Fischer?

In 1976, to protest the death in prison of Baader-Meinhof founder Ulrike
Meinhof, you planned and participated in a Frankfurt demonstration in which,
Berman wrote, "somebody tossed a Molotov cocktail at a policeman and burned
him nearly to death." You were arrested, but not charged.

In 2001, Meinhof's daughter, Bettina Rohl (who gave those damning photos to
Stern) told the press that you were responsible for the throwing of that
firebomb. Other contemporary witnesses, Berman reported, said that you "had
never ruled out the use of Molotovs and may even have favored it." You
denied it, for the record.

In 2001, the German government put on trial your old friend Hans-Joachim
Klein, who had been an underground "soldier" in the Revolutionary Cells, an
ally of the Red Army Faction and the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine. The Revolutionary Cells helped in the murder of the Israeli
Olympic athletes in Munich in 1972, and Klein himself took part in a 1975
joint assassination operation with Carlos the Jackal in which three were

During your testimony at Klein's trial, you were accused of having harbored
Red Army Faction members in your Revolutionary Struggle house, the Frankfurt
center for the group Revolutionary Struggle, which you co-founded with
housemate Daniel "Danny the Red" Cohn-Bendit. You were forced to admit there
was some truth in the accusation. (After your testimony, you shook hands
with your old terrorist friend Klein. Sweet.)

In 1969, you attended the meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organization
in which the PLO resolved that its ultimate aim was the extinction of Israel
- that is to say, the extinction or expulsion of the Jews of Israel. In
1976, Revolutionary Cells terrorists led by your Frankfurt colleague,
Wilfried Boese, hijacked an Air France plane to Entebbe. The hijackers
intended to murder all the Jewish passengers on that flight, but were killed
by Israeli commandos.

"Suddenly," Berman wrote, "the implication of anti-Zionism struck home to
[Fischer]. What did it mean that, back in Algiers in 1969, the PLO, with the
young Fischer in attendance, had voted the Zionist entity into extinction?
Now he knew what it meant."

So, that's who you are, Mr. Fischer, the man we haven't convinced. You are
the man for whom Munich wasn't enough, the man who needed Entebbe to
convince him that Jew-murder was wrong. You ask to be excused. You have been