Professor Moshe Zimmerman
Poll: Most Israelis sympathetic towards Germany
Hebrew University survey shows, 70 years after World War Two, only 5% of Israelis boycott German products, 52% approve of Germany's involvement in Middle East

A new poll conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation shows that 70 years after the outbreak of World War Two, only 5% of Israelis still make sure to boycott German products sold in Israel.


"The poll's findings show that, contrary to the official position and the media's stance, the feelings of the Israeli public, and in particular the Jewish public in Israel, towards Germany are not only neutral, but are even sympathetic," Professor Moshe Zimmerman of the university's Koebner Center explained.


"The past has not cast its shadow on attitudes towards Germany in the present, and the Israeli public feels it is dealing with its past appropriately," he said.


The poll, which was conducted among a representative sample of 1,200 Jews and 500 Arabs, showed that there is actually more fondness of Germany among the Jewish public than among the Arabs.


According to the poll, 52% of Jews in Israel believe that Germany is handing the conflict in the Middle East in a positive manner, compared to only 27% of Arabs.


Professor Zimmerman believes the reason for this is rooted in public relations. "The German society focused on relations with Jews, because they have a long score with Germany. The Germans managed to present themselves in a flattering light to the Israeli public, and the past was pushed aside for the present.


"The Arabs, on the other hand, suspect that the German sympathy comes at the expense of support of the Palestinian interests."


According to the poll, the Israeli public's opinion of Germany is affected by the respondents' political position and level of religious observance. When asked if they believe that Germany's support of Israel is as it should be, 30% of secular Jews said it is, compared to 20% of religious Jews and just 10% of ultra-Orthodox Jews.


"The conclusion is clear," Zimmerman said, "The more religious you are, the more you hate Germans."


The poll also showed that 30% of the respondents who define themselves as being on the Right of the political map said they are not pleased
with Germany's involvement in the Middle East, compared to just 3% of the leftists.


Exposure to German cultures is also relatively widespread. Thirty percent of the respondents said they had watched at least one German film in recent years. The most popular German film among the respondents was "The Lives of Others", following bye "Good Bye Lenin!".


Only 20% of respondents said they believe Germany's Nazi past overclouded the Soccer World Cup tournament held in the country three years ago.


"If in the past every German was automatically identified as a Nazi, this is not the situation today," Zimmerman said. "We have a past, and we have a present, and the past does not affect our vision in the present.


"People expect that younger generations have more positives opinions, but what is happening is actually the opposite. The older the person, the less sweeping and the more sober their opinions are towards Germans.


"They realize that there are like this and there are Germans like that."


The survey's findings will be presented in full at a conference titled: "In the eye of the beholder: Israel-Germany" at the Koebner Center at the Hebrew University on Thursday.


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