BERLIN – Forty-eight percent of Germans see the Islamic Republic of Iran as the
greatest threat to world peace, according to a survey published in the Die Welt
newspaper on Saturday.
Eighteen percent of those questioned said Israel
was the main danger to peace. Twenty-two percent said that both Iran and
Israel represent a danger.
Fifty-eight percent of the respondents said
that Iran’s nuclear program was a threat to the existence of the Jewish state. The
Infratest dimap pollsters questioned German voters spanning the political
spectrum in the Federal Republic.
A large majority rejected the Nobel
Prize laureate Günter Grass’s thesis that Germans are not being allowed to
criticize Israel. Seventy-five percent of respondents agreed with the
statement that Israel can be subjected to the identical criticism as other
nations. In short, the poll shows that three-quarters of Germans believe there
are no taboos in terms of criticizing Israel.
Some German journalists
slammed Grass, saying media and political criticism of Israel is
ubiquitous. Many media experts who follow Israel in the German press,
such as the Frankfurt-based pro-Israel media watchdog organization Honestly
Concerned and its editor-in-chief Sacha Stawski, see disproportional criticism
and preoccupation with the Jewish state at the expense of other conflicts in the
According to the Die Welt survey, 52% of Left Party voters viewed Israel as a greater threat than the Islamic Republic.
Günter Grass argued
in his poem “What Must Be Said,” published earlier this month, that there is a
widespread muzzle on criticism of Israel in the Federal Republic. “This general
silence on the facts, before which my own silence has bowed, seems to me a
troubling, enforced lie, leading to a likely punishment, the moment it’s broken:
The verdict ‘anti-Semitism’ falls easily,” he wrote.
Grass argued in his
poem that Israel, and not Iran, is the chief impediment to global peace and that
Israel seeks to obliterate the Iranian population.
The results of Die
Welt’s survey contradict a Financial Times online newspaper poll from this
month, as well as other online blog and TV questionnaires, that show widespread
German support for Grass and negative attitudes toward Israel. For
example, the Financial Times’ reported that 57% of the respondents in Germany
agreed with Grass’ statements. Eight percent said his views were “dangerous” or
“anti-Semitic.” And 27% of those polled said his contentions were worthy of
discussion. Roughly 22,000 readers participated in the Financial Times
The results appears in line with earlier surveys showing German
dislike of Israel and Jews.
In 2011, a think tank affiliated with the
Social Democratic Party issued a report revealing that 47.7% of respondents
agreed that “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the
A BBC poll in 2007 showed that 77% of Germans harbored
anti-Israel sentiments – more than those of any other country in
In 2003, an EU study showed that a majority of Germans viewed
Israel, in sharp contrast to Iran, as the greatest threat to global
In an interview published on Sunday in Die Welt am Sonntag, Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu alluded to anti-Israel and pro- Grass sentiments
among broad swaths of the German population. “And those now who agree with
Günter Grass about the Jewish state should ask themselves if they wouldn’t have
agreed with the slanders against the Jewish people in the time of the
Holocaust. That’s the question the Germans must ask themselves. I
am glad that Germany’s leadership has responded clearly. But it’s something I
hope the German people will do as well,” he said.
“How would Germany feel
if it was showered with rockets by people who call outright for Germany’s
destruction? which is what we have around us. Iran that supports Hezbollah and
Hamas who are firing on the tiny State of Israel,” the prime minister said.