Germany, Light Unto the Nations

It's lucky for the tormented Syrians knocking on Germany’s door that there is no German interior minister like Israel's Silvan Shalom.

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
Girl holds up poster of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as Syrian refugees in Budapest head for Austria, September 4, 2015.
Girl holds up poster of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as Syrian refugees in Budapest head for Austria, September 4, 2015.Credit: Reuters
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

It was German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel who said, “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” Now, around 200 years later, another German, Angela Merkel, is proving that in fact, one can learn from history. The gates of Berlin are open wide to all refugees fleeing death, oppression and starvation. Good for you, Germany!

It’s hard for the ear to hear such praise, given Germany’s dark history during the previous century, but “the worst pain is the current one,” as the Arabs say. And if Germany is positioning itself as the primary country to face the current pain and give solace to a million refugees from Syria and elsewhere, the country and its leader deserve praise and appreciation.

One tends to assume that if Merkel had been an interior minister named Silvan Shalom, or a culture minister named Miri Regev, she would have been given the boot after making such a promise. So it’s lucky for the tormented Syrians knocking on Germany’s door that there is no German Silvan Shalom.

Beyond that, I think that in addition to the humane attitude behind Merkel’s decision, there also lies some common sense; what turned America into a mighty power could repeat itself in Europe. After all, refugees are people hungry for work and integration, and want to make up for everything they lost in their homelands. These aspirations, which gave America so much of its momentum, could also bring benefit to Europe, which is suffering from a negative birthrate, if it will be wise enough to help the refugees feel that they belong.

For now, the blast echoes of the Middle Eastern carnage are reaching Europe’s shores. We can talk a lot about the bloody Middle Eastern regimes, as well as the Islamic fundamentalism that has sown destruction and poisoned peoples’ minds, but without the criminal intervention of Russia, Iran and the United States (through Qatar and Saudi Arabia), the flames would be much lower than they are.

Iran and Russia are supporting a brutal Syrian dictatorship, while Qatar, a U.S. ally, is supporting the sadistic ISIS (Islamic State). Moreover, the only result of the U.S.-led “war” against ISIS is that the organization, battered though it may be, is getting stronger. Really now, how can one battle ISIS when Turkey, another U.S. ally, is its fighters’ primary arms supplier and also finances ISIS by buying the crude oil it now controls?

Saudi Arabia, of course, is the mother and father of the Wahhabi stream of Islam, which sees everyone except its own adherents as heretics deserving of death. By building on this movement, the House of Saud seized control of Saudi Arabia, supported by Britain. Later on, America replaced Britain as the Saudi sponsor, but the Wahhabi ideology remained the same. So even as America was ostensibly fighting for human rights all over the world, the Middle Ages prevailed in its own backyard, in Saudi Arabia.

As Saudi Arabia underwent incredible economic development, there emerged a fatal combination between billions of dollars and a horrific ideology of death, which brought about the current Arab disaster. But when the worst of all occurs, the leaders of the Gulf states, who are still supplying weapons and billions of dollars to these death cults, remain silent. Their money is safely stowed in Western banks, while their brethren are seeking refuge and a scrap of bread in Europe.

Let me conclude with a philosophical thought of my own, in the spirit of Hegel. From history we learn that there is no people that serves as a light unto the nations forever. During the Middle Ages, the Ottoman empire held the torch as it absorbed the Jews expelled from Spain. Today the torch is being carried by the Germans.

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