Back in the day, US American imports to Germany included chewing gum, caffeinated sparkling beverages, popcorn, jeans, and democracy. A few decades later Jimi Hendrix did his last gig at the Love-and-Peace-Festival on a small German island. The 1980s brought Germans ALF (which actually was way funnier in its German version), during the 1990s German teens donned Seattle-style chequered flannel shirts paired with 501s and the appropriate footwear (no, not Crocs). The first decade of the twenty-first century CE apparently has bestowed Germans with another treat from their overseas friends, namely the infamous Walt and Mearsheimer.
It may not come as a surprise to many that Walt and Mearsheimer have gone to Germany to promote their book The Israel Lobby (for detailed discussions on both gentlemen as well as the book, please refer to previous posts on the topic). The German Jewish weekly JÃ¼dische Allgemeine reports in its 22 Nov 2007 edition on Walt’s and Mearsheimer’s presentation of their book in Berlin, hosted by the DGAP (Deutsche Gesellschaft fÃ¼r AuswÃ¤rtige Politik = German Society for Foreign Politics). Questioned by a lady from the audience about how ‘normality’ in Israel was supposed to come about if it was under constant threat, Walt denied that such a threat existed and that Ahmadinedjad was not intending to destroy Israel and reasoned that since Mao and Stalin had neither made use of an atomic bomb, Ahmadinedjad wouldn’t either. So far so familiar.
A new aspect came into play though when German political theorist Thomas Risse from Freie UniversitÃ¤t Berlin pointed out that the cover of the German version of the book was decidedly anti-Semite – the cover displays a US flag with the stars being Magen David – and that the very graphic element had been used in the Nazi-propaganda book KrÃ¤fte hinter Roosevelt (= Powers behind Roosevelt, 1942). Mearsheimer would not accept that point of criticism as that cover were in accordance with the authors, who still considered it apt, had not had any knowledge of the Nazi-book, and the resemblance were a mere coincidence; this were anyhow another instance of inappropriate accusations of anti-Semitism.
But we shall not prove to be bad hosts over here in Europe. Afterall, as a Cologne saying goes, “Jeder Jeck ist anders” (= every fool is different). I’d kindly ask Walt and Mearsheimer to seize the opportunity and visit one of the large Christmas fairs starting up all over Germany this coming weekend. There they may ponder over potato pancakes with apple sauce, mulled wine, gingerbread and candyfloss (cotton candy to the Americans) why even in Germany people would not just let them promote their book unquestioned. Ah, and when did German men stop wearing those spiked helmets anyway?
* = We’ve got them!