Should Israel trust Germany?

June 27, 2019 22:18
4 minute read.
German Chancelor Angela Merkel shaking hands with President Reuven Rivlin, October 4, 2018

German Chancelor Angela Merkel shaking hands with President Reuven Rivlin, October 4, 2018. (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)

German leaders and visiting politicians to Israel regularly make statements directed to Israel that a two-state solution is the way to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. One such recidivist among many is former socialist leader and foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel, an extreme anti-Israel inciter. The not-so-explicit underlying message of these German statements is: The genocide of the Jews during our grandfathers’ generation is a horrible part of our past. Contemporary Germany is a democracy which has learned the necessary lessons from its history. We are a powerful nation on the world map. We are thus entitled to tell you how you should act toward the Palestinians.

Already when I was a small child, a democratically elected German government had a policy concerning me. In the first half of the 1940s, during the German occupation of the Netherlands, I was in hiding. Had the occupiers found me, they had two options. They could have either sent me to Sobibor to be gassed or to Birkenau where the same fate awaited me. Thereafter, my body would be burned together with that of many other Jews, and I would have had no individual grave. The post-war democratic German governments rightly recognized that they were the legal successors of the democratically elected Nazi government.

Germany’s population has far from fully digested the horrible history of their grandfathers’ generation. That means that its authorities should abstain from interfering in political recommendations which concern me. The major reason for this has just been mentioned. Yet there are several others. Indeed, many Germans nowadays have radically different attitudes than the majority in their grandfathers’ generation. There is also a small number who identify with the policies of the Nazi regime.

Yet more important is another huge group. With them, the demonic views about the Jews of the German grandfather generation have mutated into a similar perception of Israel. During the period from 2004 to 2014, seven representative polls were undertaken on this subject. Germans were asked whether they agreed with statements such as: “Israel conducts a war of extermination against the Palestinians,” or “Israel is acting toward the Palestinians like Nazis acted toward the Jews.”

A poll conducted by the Bertelsmann Foundation in 2013 found 41% agreement among the German population to the latter statement. In 2007, the figure was 30%. The 2013 figure translates into more than 25 million German adults who believe that Israel behaves like Nazis when it comes to the treatment of Palestinians.

In today’s Western worldview, behaving like Nazis represents absolute evil. So too does having genocidal intentions. The widespread agreement by Germans regarding these statements about Israel also reveals that large parts of the population do not understand the essence of their country’s criminal history. Furthermore, it illustrates how large segments of German opinion-making media and journalists are morally corrupt in a major way. They have created the atmosphere for these beliefs.

HOWEVER, THIS time round, it is not Nazi papers such as Julius Streicher’s Der Stürmer, or the Völkischer Beobachter of the NSDAP, the National Socialist Workers Party. Nowadays, much of the incitement comes from a variety of German progressive media. Against the above background, it doesn’t matter whether demonization is caused by right-wing or progressive perverts. 

There are other reasons why German politicians should not tell Israel how to solve its conflicts. Democratic Germany has been unable to suppress antisemitism. Chancellor Angela Merkel keeps saying how ashamed she is about this. A normal reaction to this is: Solve your own problems so that you do not have to be ashamed of your country.

Worse even, into a society where antisemitism cannot be eradicated, Merkel has welcomed more than a million refugee immigrants. Many of these people come from the most antisemitic countries in the world. Ultimately, even she had to admit that beyond the native antisemitism in Germany, imported antisemitism from Muslim immigrants has been added to the mix of the country’s Jew-hatred.

There are other reasons for Germans to remain silent about what Israel should do. No other country is better equipped to recognize that in Palestinian society, large parts of the population have views which are mutations of what the many criminals in the German grandfather generation and their leaders thought. In the only Palestinian parliamentary elections – those of 2006 – the genocidal Hamas movement received an absolute majority. Nevertheless, the German government allows another genocidal movement, Hezbollah, to operate in its country. This is supported by all parties except the populist AfD.

Out of Germany, in part of the previous century, came a quantity of lethal hatred – which should suffice for any country for more than a millennium. Germans are thus also best equipped to recognize similar hatred coming out of many Palestinian sources. That goes also for Iran, with which Germany is far too friendly. It also goes for many other parts of the Muslim world and includes as well some Muslims in the European Union and elsewhere in the West.

As the Germans did not find me in hiding, I got my life as a bonus. I have made an effort to learn lessons for life from that fortunate circumstance in a very unfortunate environment. That lesson includes following attentively developments in Germany. This includes its participation in anti-Israel voting at the United Nations. Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, has pointed out that Israel represents 0.1% of the world population, but receives 78% of UN condemnations. Another lesson includes monitoring the profound hypocrisy of large parts of contemporary Germany and its government.

The writer is emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, and the International Leadership Award by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

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