Germany's Merkel with President Peres
Photo: AP
Foreign Ministry fears anti-Israel mood in Germany growing
Although German Chancellor Merkel is considered one of most prominent pro-Israel leaders in world, Israeli PR delegates are concerned. 'Germans view Israel, and Iran, as a great danger to world peace,' senior Israeli official says
Foreign Ministry officials have recently voices their concern over the growing anti-Israel mood in Germany. Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel is considered one of the most prominent pro-Israel leaders in the European Union and in the world, the public opinion in her country appears to be completely different.


A senior state official told Ynet that although the official Germany remains pro-Israel, the public atmosphere in the country is affecting the Merkel government's attitude, particularly in terms of the Iranian nuclear plan.


Israel's great fear is that the increasing anti-Israel mood in the German society, economy and media will eventually influence the German government's policy on this issue for the worse.


"Germans view Israel – and Iran – as a great danger to world peace. German tourists don't visit Israel, while the number of tourists from neighboring Poland exceeds the number of visitors from Germany," said a source in Jerusalem.


"The Germans are filled with prejudice against Israel. Our PR delegates are pulling their hair out in frustration when they meet young and old people there. More than once they hear remarks like, 'That's not your country,' 'It's a shame that a Jewish country was established on stolen land,' 'Israel is treating the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews' and 'We are equally responsible towards the Palestinians as we are towards the Jews.'"


Anat Sultan-Dadon of the Israeli Embassy in Berlin recently sent a telegram reporting a meeting with the "Israel-Germany friendship youth forum", during which German youths expressed their reservations over Iran's isolation, in spite of the Islamic republic's attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon.


"If the mighty have succumbed, how shall the weak emerge unscathed in Germany?" said the state official in response to the telegram.


Where did promises go?

Israeli delegates in Berlin have been aware of the changes in the German public's attitude for some time now, and Foreign Ministry discussions have been dealing with the concern over the development of similar trends in other European countries.


The Israeli PR activities have failed to bring about a significant change. Merkel, who brought eight of her government ministers to Israel as part of the Jewish state's 60th anniversary celebrations, also failed to change the atmosphere.


"The outrageous thing is that Germany of all countries, with its unusual moral history, is the weakest link among the three largest European countries (Germany, France and Britain) in terms of toughening the sanctions on Iran," said an Israeli source, noting that German companies have been trading with Iran in multi-billion-euro deals.


"Germany favors dialogue and persuasion, even when Iran talks about destroying the Jewish state and builds a nuclear bomb. Other Germans prefer to view Iran's poisonous and anti-Semitic attacks at the UN and on other stages, not as anti-Semitism but as hostility towards Israel.


"Why aren't the Germans implementing their promise given 60 years ago to fight any type of anti-Semitism?"


"Although the large German parties promised in their platforms to guarantee Israel's security, Germany did not lose its temper when a country which is a member of the UN called for Israel's destruction at the General Assembly.


"There were no mass protests, no real shock in the German media, and not one Iranian cultural center was closed," the source said.


"Germany is becoming more 'European' in its attitude towards Israel. The European umbrella is very convenient for the German conscience, as the German-Israeli dialogue often turns into a three-way dialogue.


"The concern for the Palestinians becomes the German conscience's best 'washing powder'. Because if the Israelis are so bad and evil, perhaps we, the descendants of that German generation, can look at ourselves in the mirror with greater comfort and no longer feel ashamed?"


First published: 10.28.08, 13:04
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