Shorts: World

Merkel opposes gas deal with Iran

German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized a major gas deal between a German firm and Iran.

A government spokesman, Thomas Steg, told the Associated Press last week that Merkel said she expected more tact from German firms regarding trade with Iran.

It was announced last week that Germany’s Federal Agency for Economics and Export Control had given its approval to a deal worth $156 million to the Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec company. SPG-Steiner is to apply its unique method of turning gas into liquid fuel at three plants in Iran.

Though the deal is legal under laws that permit certain kinds of trade with Iran, the company ought to feel a “moral duty” to forfeit the deal, given the “sensitive conditions regarding trade with Iran,” Steg said. But the firm cannot be forced to drop the contract.

Steg also said German industry leaders had expressed frustration that firms elsewhere, including in the United States and France, continue to do business with Iran.

Negative reactions to the Steiner-Iran deal have come from the Israeli government and such international organizations as the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Mideast Freedom Forum. Israel’s ambassador to Berlin, Yoram Ben Zeev, reportedly asked Merkel to order that the deal be rescinded. — jta

London radio station closes after libel suit

London’s only Jewish radio station shut down after losing a libel lawsuit.

George Galloway, a member of Parliament and a vociferous critic of Israel, won the equivalent of about $28,000, in damages against the station, forcing it to shut down.

Galloway sued the station, Jcom, after a November 2007 broadcast in which an impersonator claiming to be “Georgie Galloway” used the phrase “kill the Jews, kill the Jews.”

The station apologized for the broadcast, which was heard online by 36 people and in a small area of north London. — jta

Auschwitz museum needs $100 million

The museum at the Auschwitz death camp is warning that its historic buildings will collapse without funding from world governments.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland is hoping that the European Union will foot some of the $100 million needed to reinforce and restore deteriorating structures, including wooden barracks, as well as to create new facilities for tour groups and artifact storage.

“An unfathomable bureaucratic standoff has gone on for several years, making it impossible to carry out this essential task that will benefit everyone.” museum director Piotr Cywinski told the Polish-language newspaper Dziennik Polski recently.

Cywinski credited the Polish government for absorbing the brunt of the cost of maintaining the museum. — jta