These are words that have been brewing just below the surface in Germany for quite a while, and now they were uttered aloud, right here in Israel. In a conference held Monday at Netanya’s Academic College, German professors asserted that their country “should stop giving the Sate of Israel preferential treatment”.
This statement comes at the heels of a manifesto, recently published by 25 German scholars, which maintained that Germany must be more ‘balanced’ in its political relations with Israel and its Arab neighbors.
The aforementioned professors stated that Germany helped strengthen the burgeoning State of Israel by deporting 160,000 German Jews during the Nazi reign. These refugees ultimately ended up in Israel and bolstered its Jewish population at the Arabs’ expense.
Furthermore, noted the professors, Germany has paid its “debt to the Jewish nation” in full through its reparations agreement with Israel.
Whereas the Holocaust was an indelible stain on the annals of German history, they stated, Germany must now improve its relations with the Arab world by taking on a more balanced approach to its foreign policy and its treatment of Israel.
This German manifesto was hotly contested by Israeli professors in a debate held Monday at the Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya College.
This debate was organized by Dov Ben-Meir, a member of the center’s steering committee and former vice speaker of the Knesset. Ben-Meir has recently published a “counter-manifesto” of his own, which challenges the German professor’s assertions.
In his manifesto, Ben Meir maintained that it is only after Germany’s reparations agreement with Israel that the world began to see Germany in a different light and give credence to the “new German nation”.
Furthermore, stated Ben Meir, Israel purchased goods from Germany at a value far exceeding the amount given to it in reparation payments. At any rate, he noted, the money Israel had attained from Germany can not be deemed “preferential treatment”, but rather a moral debt paid to those that had been robbed.
Ben-Meir concluded his manifesto with a stark warning to Germany, warning the country that if it ceases its “preferential treatment” of Israel, this could very well signal a slow return to the dark days of the Nazi regime.