The German national soccer team is generally not considered one of the most popular in Israel, but it seems this year's FIFA World Cup is leaving its mark. A poll conducted Sunday by Yedioth Ahronoth and the Dahaf Institute, headed by Mina Tzemach, showed that almost one-third of Israelis would like to see coach Joachim Löw's team win the Cup.
The poll's findings are based on answers by 500 respondents, comprising a representative sample of the adult population in Israel.
According to the findings, 31.1% of the male population in Israel (27.7% of the general sample) would like to see Holland take the cup home. Germany, surprisingly, comes in second place, with 30.5% of the male population (25.1% of the general sample) hoping to see striker Miroslav Klose and his teammates win the international championship.
Christine Winter of the Goethe Institute in Tel Aviv welcomed the German national team's growing popularity in Israel, and said, "As the World Cup games progress I hear of more and more fans of Germany here…There is a sense of awakening with regards to Germany. Many come to study the language here and the Israelis are the second largest group of tourists in Berlin.
"There are many German visitors in Israel and Berlin has a large community of Israelis. The national team was the last thing that wasn't so 'in' until now, but this is changing too."
'It's just soccer'While Israeli fans are aware that their decision to support the team may be perceived as controversial, some insist that it is "just soccer."
Germany supporter Ariel Melamud, a med student at Ben Gurion University, told Yedioth Ahronoth, "My uncle was born in 1947 and says he could never support a team like Germany, even though it is just soccer.
"There is always the connotation of what happened in the Holocaust, but let's keep in mind that this is just soccer. With all the history, which is certainly difficult, I do not think it should affect the game itself."
Germany's fans in Israel also include a significant number of Israeli-Arabs, and one such fan, a resident of Nazareth, told Yedioth Ahronoth, "This team is the most popular in our sector. I can't explain why Germany. There is no special reason, and it is certainly not because of what happened, but simply because they play the kind of soccer we like."
Thomas Müller scoring against Argentina (Photo: Reuters)
But there are still those who cannot forgive and forget, no matter what. "It is simply a disgrace that there are fans of the German national team in Israel," Holocaust survivor Zeev Wolf told Yedioth Ahronoth.
"We did not go through what we went through for this, to have people in this country supporting the Germans like nothing happened. Is there a shortage of teams in the world? Can't they support the English? The Spanish? Do they have to support the Germans of all people?
"Now they support the Germans, tomorrow they will forget the Holocaust, and the day after, when it happens again, heaven forbid, we will see them remember when it is too late."
Only 13.6% wanted Germany at start of tournament
As for the results of this year's tournament, Spain comes in third after Holland and Germany, according to the poll, and got the support of 23% of its respondents. Uruguay was ranked last, with only 8.1% of Israelis wishing to see it win.
The maximum sampling error for the general sample stands at 4.4%.
When asked what country they most supported before the tournament kicked off, 13.6% of the male respondents opted for Germany, which surprisingly got more votes than teams such as England, Spain, and even Holland.
While the respondents were asked to ignore the achievements recorded during the tournament, Germany's fantastic abilities, including defeats over Australia, England and Argentina, may still have had an influence on their answers.
The respondents' favorite team before this year's World Cup opened was Argentina, while Brazil was the favorite among men. According to the poll, these two teams were also the most disappointing.
Another interesting figure shows that most of the fans that supported Argentina before the tournament would actually like to see Germany, which knocked it out of the competition, take the cup home.
England's fans showed massive support of Holland, as did Brazil's supporters.
Danny Spektor contributed to this report
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