Welcome Chancellor Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel greeted by Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi at the airport, October 3rd, 2018 (photo credit: AVI DODI/FOREIGN MINISTRY)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel greeted by Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi at the airport, October 3rd, 2018
Welcome to Israel, Chancellor Merkel!
Since you assumed office 13 years ago, you proved repeatedly that you are Israel’s greatest friend in Germany and one of Israel’s greatest supporters in Europe. Your multiple visits here are a proof of the connection you feel to the Jewish people and its state, and we all hope to welcome you many more times to Israel as chancellor.
Your initiative to establish regular government-to-government meetings between our two nations shows our mutual commitment toward deepening the bilateral relations and cooperation between Israel and Germany. During your tenure as chancellor, other friends of Israel made it to high-level positions, including President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
In a relationship of such magnitude, friends also have an obligation to tell the truth to each other, no matter how inconvenient the truth is, as you in Germany say when you choose to criticize Israel.
As a friend of Germany, I see it as my duty to convey to you the feelings of many Israelis on the nature of this relationship between the countries. The painful truth is that too many times, Germany’s policies tend to contradict Israel’s national and security interests that are mostly in the heart of our political consensus.
• We see it with Germany’s unwavering adherence to the nuclear deal with Iran, a country whose leadership calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and actively endangers Israel’s security on multiple fronts – from Hezbollah in the North to Hamas in the South.
• We see it with Germany’s refusal to end the artificial distinction between Hezbollah’s so-called “military” and “political” wings and to designate it entirely as a terrorist organization.
• We see it with Germany’s vote to condemn the United States’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the Jewish state.
• We see it with Germany’s announcement that it would increase its funding to UNRWA, an agency that spreads anti-Israel hate and incitement in schoolbooks and in the education system, while perpetuating the dream of the “Claim of Return,” which only pushes away any chance for a peaceful solution in the region.
• We saw it with Germany’s ending Israel’s chances and aspirations (although realistically slim) for a seat at the UN Security Council for the first time in history.
• We see it when Germany joins anti-Israeli votes in international bodies, such as the World Health Organization, which singled out only Israel, with its amazing medical and health system, and condemned it for allegedly hurting the physical and mental health services in the Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights, an area in which Israel actively provides medical treatment for the refugees of brutal attacks by the Assad regime.
Moreover, as if that weren’t enough, we all too frequently see Germany hiding behind the so called “European consensus” when the EU acts against Israel. The country that aspires to lead the EU, especially after Brexit, chooses to “lead from behind” rather than stand with a country like Israel, which is supposed to enjoy what is known as a special relationship – Besondere Beziehung.
The latest example of this is the undermining of Israel’s Supreme Court decision, reached after nine years of deliberations, appeals and procedures, to evacuate of the illegal Khan Al-Ahmar outpost in Area C of the West Bank, under full control of Israel. The European Parliament even took it one step further and claimed, preposterously, that the evacuation would be considered a “war crime.”
In these cases and others, Germany finds it easy to be silent and waive its leadership position and its special relationship with Israel and hide behind European cover.
Chancellor Merkel, Israel – with all its faults and misgivings – is the only democracy in the Middle East, and its security and well-being of its citizens is challenged on a daily basis, including terror attacks by our neighbors, that, as you know, are not exactly Jeffersonian democracies.
Israel is also an asset for the Germany and the so-called “like-minded counties” in Europe, and we expect special friends to maintain a true Besondere Beziehung, which is also about standing with your allies, especially in though times.
The writer is head of the Abba Eban Institute of International Diplomacy at the IDC Herzliya and the former Israeli ambassador to the UN.