October 14, 2019

Grenell Gossip Proves His Virtue and Utter Coolness

Orit and Ambassador Grenell at the 4th of July party

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the views of the Jewish Journal. 

Obviously, the reporter at the German magazine-turned-tabloid Spiegel, Konstantin von Hammerstein, is a boring, mean-spirited person given his recent salacious attempt to smear US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell. His idea of a good time must be nibbling under-spiced hors d’oeuvres with Chancellor Merkel and other German power-players at numb receptions. He be must trying so hard to get readers to shun Grenell because Grenell is, actually, the hottest ticket in town.

Anyone who has visited the Ambassador’s residence, dined with him, or attended one of his parties (such as the American Embassy’s Fourth of July party, where we first met) knows that he is a man with superb “people skills”—a concept foreign to most Germans. (Now if I only I’d been invited to the ad hoc show of Britney Spears’ dancers at his Dahlem residence after the pop-queen’s Berlin concert. Sigh.) At a Christmas dinner at his residence, politicians, influencers, journalists, businessmen and just-plain interesting people from across the political spectrum were in attendance, chatting and enjoying.

He’s the type of diplomat who makes everyone in the room feel important—but in his case, he means it. Maybe because of his Christian faith, he sees divinity in everyone, frenemies and enemies alike. During my interview with the friend of Israel in the Juedische Rundschau (republished in English in JNS.org), I was struck by his candidness, friendliness, social and political sensitivity, and just overall cool-ness.

In his failed hit-piece, Count Hammerstein paints Grenell, through unnamed (aka cowardly) sources, as an isolated, unpopular diplomat in Berlin political circles. Proof? This German political brass had declined his invitation to the Halloween costume party at the Dahlem Residence where guests dressed up as “super heroes” (maybe because that’s another foreign concept to many Germans—especially fake reporters). OMG, like—did you know–Grenell is, like, soooo unpopular! Are you actually going to his party? OMG, we are soooo not going! In fact, only four members of the German government were invited. The two who came were young social democrats; the other two were out of town.

It seems someone from Spiegel is spying on Grenell, too, since they were also sore that he attended (more like a brief “meet and greet”—I was there) the annual writers meeting of Die Achse Des Guten (Achgut.com), a non-partisan and very popular media outlet that calls out fake news, the moral missteps of the German government, and Islamic hate and violence (but of course Speigel sees all that as a vice). Was Spiegel just jealous?

Truth is, tables are turning and Speigel knows it. German media is getting desperate. The mainstream media and left-leaning intellectuals are not the cool people anymore. Grenell and his supporters are the intellectual vanguard, the ethical, the artsy, the interesting, the fun—and the socially liberal.

True to its gossipy, unsubstantiating style, Spiegel obsesses over Grenell’s social life when really, as an Ambassador, his substance is what counts. In this case, it is clear that Spiegel is taking revenge on Grenell for pooping on its anti-American, anti-Trump, pro-Iran party.

Grenell took the forefront in calling out Spiegel’s scandalous, fake reporter, Claas Relotius, for making up stories about Americans to make them look bad, not to mention for allowing such egregious ethical breaches to take place. That took courage, because Grenell fought for what is objectively right over being invited to the wursty parties where the German elite gather to feel important and bore themselves given the general German lack of small-talk skills. Spiegel could not deign to introspect (also not a German strong point); instead, the editors took the low road and took cheap shots at Grenell.

German political elites are also sore that Grenell is calling out Germany on its immoral ties with the antisemitic, genocidal Iran regime. The reporter criticized Grenell for urging Germans to stop doing business with Iran when Germany, if it learned anything from its tyrannical past, should have taken the lead on this issue. Still, the reporter virtue-signals by relating Fox News to neo-Nazis—the brave anti-Nazi crusaders they are! Just check out Grenell’s Twitter feed to see who really gets Nazi atrocities.

Spiegel felt so self-satisfied that Grenell wasn’t chosen to become the UN Ambassador—as if to suggest he’s not really as high up in Washington circles as he lets on. I know that’s not the case—and, if Spiegel did any authentic reporting—they’d find  President Trump’s praise of Grenell’s work in Germany—the main reason he wasn’t plucked out of Berlin.

I wager Ambassador Grenell will go down in history as one of America’s great ambassadors, competing with the likes of Nazi-era Ambassador William E. Dodd, whose tenure was made famous with the book In the Garden of Beasts. Grenell has been auspiciously—or ominously–placed in a similar situation: a moral conscience at a time when Germany is regressing to its immoral, greedy, propagandistic ways. Those who hate him have only one tool against his charm, skill, and ideals: fake stories, op-ed pieces posing as features, and petty gossip.

As a journalist, I try to keep a comfortable distance from my subjects. No journalist should ever be in anyone’s pocket, and vice versa. As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, however, I’m relieved Grenell’s in Berlin. So far, Grenell, throughout my interactions and observations, has shown he is a mensch—a good man with good values. And I can’t let such vicious, partisan attacks by fellow so-called journalists go unanswered.

Let Grenell know he is far from being isolated. Show your support by following him on Instagram and Twitter. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll get invited to one of his parties.

Orit Arfa is a journalist and author based in Berlin. Her second novel, Underskin, is a German-Israeli love story.

Ambassador Grenell Commemorates Kristallnacht Memorial on 80th Anniversary

United States Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell paid his respects at a memorial for Kristallnacht victims on Friday.

Grenell can be seen walking down Track 17, where tens of thousands of Jews were deported from Berlin to the Nazi concentration camps:

Grenell also tweeted out a video of a tribute to the Kristallnacht victims from the Central Council of Jews:

Friday marked the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass. The Nazis used the assassination of a member of the German embassy in Paris to incite mobs into attacking Jews and ransacking their businesses.

“At least 96 Jews were killed and hundreds more injured, more than 1,000 synagogues were burned (and possibly as many as 2,000), almost 7,500 Jewish businesses were destroyed, cemeteries and schools were vandalized, and 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps,” Jewish Virtual Library states.

German Court Allows Kuwait Airways to Continue Barring Israeli Passengers

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A German court concluded on Tuesday that Kuwait Airways can continue its practice of barring Israelis from flying on their airlines.

The German appeals court upheld a Frankfurt state court’s ruling on the matter, arguing that while the airlines’ policy is “unacceptable,” any Israelis who boarded the plane would be unable leave the plane once it landed in Kuwait.

Therefore, the court ruled that Kuwait Airways’ policy should be allowed to continue.

“This is a tragic day for German law. Rather than be held accountable before the law, the court has rewarded Kuwait Airways for its anti-Semitism. If, as the court says, the execution of the contract is impossible, the fault for that lies with the racist policy of the airline, not with the nationality of our client,” Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein said in a statement. “It is sickening that in 2018, in Germany of all places, a court has legitimized hatred and discrimination against Jews. We are exploring the options to appeal this decision but in the meantime, the authorities cannot simply stand by in the face of this blatant racism and injustice.”

Richard Grenell, the United States Ambassador to Germany, said, “It is 2018. No airline should be allowed to categorically reject Israelis.”

The case in question involved an Israeli man, identified as Adar M., being denied from boarding a Kuwait Airways flight in 2016 from Frankfurt to Bangkok just because he’s Israeli. The United States concluded in 2015 that such a practice was illegal.

95-Year-Old Nazi Collaborator Deported to Germany

Screenshot from Twitter.

The last known living Nazi collaborator in the United States was deported on August 21 to Germany.

According to ABC News, Jakiw Palij, 95, was an armed guard at the Trawniki death camp in Poland, where he ensured that none of the 6,000 Jews that were murdered in a camp-wide slaughter in November 1943 were able to escape.

Palij gained entry into the United States in 1949 by lying to immigration officials that he didn’t collaborate at all with the Nazis and was instead working in his hometown in Germany. He became a citizen in 1957.

However, in 2004, a federal judge ordered Palij to be deported after federal investigators unearthed Palij’s Nazi background. There has been bipartisan support for years for Palij’s deportation, but the fact that he hasn’t been a German citizen since immigrating to the United States caused the deportation to be stalled until now.

ABC is reporting that President Trump made Palij’s deportation a top priority for German Ambassador Richard Grenell.

“It’s really a credit to President Trump, who was very clear about this case, made clear he wanted this individual out of the United States,” Grenell told Fox and Friends.

Grenell also praised the recently installed German leaders for their desire to get Palij back. It is not yet known what Germany will do with him.