(By Ray D.)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust "a myth." He's called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." He's the head of one of the most repressive governments on earth. And, as far as most German authorities are concerned, he's a welcome guest at this summer's 2006 FIFA World Cup.
German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble (CDU) recently stated that Ahmadinejad is welcome at the World Cup because Germany wants to be "a good host." Schaeuble, who is considered conservative by German standards, said that he would "talk to him about his statements" in the event of a visit and added that "it will not be entirely simple."
Once again, German leaders are paying lip service to ideals that they have no intention of honoring. One day they pose as moral paragons of virtue, the next they are in bed doing deals with the world's most repressive regimes. It doesn't matter if you're the leader of a brutal theocracy who has denied the Holocaust and called for the destruction of Israel. Germany's special historic responsibility to the millions of murdered Jews and the state of Israel is apparently less important than being "good hosts" and rolling over to placate tyrants. What really matters is that the World Cup goes smoothly and serves German interests.
In a story on the potential Ahmadinejad visit, the FAZ newspaper detailed all of the problems with Iran and its President but pointed out: "On the other hand, German-Iranian trade is being promoted." Just another reason not to rock the boat! When in doubt, appease and call for more "dialog." If this is any indication of Germany's sincerity in negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program, the American "friends" ought to be quite concerned.
The only person who seems to have any sense in this is Edmund Stoiber, Governor of Bavaria (CSU). Stoiber warned that Iran's President would be less than welcome for his "tirades against the Jewish state and contesting the Holocaust." But even he wasn't willing to challenge the national government's right to allow Ahmadinejad into the country.
The ultimate question is how other World Cup attendees will react to the German government's weak-kneed stance on a potential Ahmadinejad visit. If a major player decides to pull out rather than participate in an event attended by Iran's notorious head of state, the German appeasement gamble could backfire quite badly indeed.
On another note, German entrepreneurs of a special sort are busily preparing for this summer: Berlin readies giant brothel for World Cup. According to MSNBC, "Experts estimate as many as 40,000 prostitutes may travel to Germany to offer their services to fans during the tournament." Here is a past Medienkritik post on the topic.