BERLIN – The way things look now, Germany intends to mark the 50th anniversary of its diplomatic relationship with Israel, the historical reconciliation between the country of the murderers and the country of the murdered, without Israel.
To be more exact, it will mark the anniversary with a selected part of Israel, the one which tells the Germans what they want to hear: How wonderful Germany is and how horrible Israel is.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier hosted a reception for the jubilee celebration last Thursday at the Foreign Office in Berlin. He invited an esteemed and distinguished Israeli author and a famous German film director for a discussion in front of an audience of guests.
Only one minor detail was forgotten: The fact that the meeting should be coordinated with the other involved party – the State of Israel. In this case, the Israeli Embassy in Berlin. The Israeli media's representatives in Germany were also invited offhandedly at the last minute.
It's possible that the German diplomacy was busy organizing the secret meeting which was held several hours earlier between Steinmeier and the Iranian foreign minister. And maybe that's what happens when you do things out of a sense of duty.
The production's failures were joined by another troubling issue: The discussion, which was convened to mark the establishment of diplomatic ties with Israel, hardly mentioned the relationship between the two countries.
They spoke about Israel's internal problems, mocked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the audience applauded, discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and mainly the issue chosen for the discussion: Homeland. And there was a good reason for that: The German director invited to the discussion was Edgar Reitz, who directed the huge cinema project about Germany in the 20th century – "Heimat" (homeland).
One film critic once stated that if an alien ever landed on Planet Earth and wanted to get to know the history of Germany in the previous century, he would have to watch that cinema project. Of course. That way, the alien would learn that the Germans knew nothing about the Holocaust.
Indeed, the German suffering at the end of World War II was one of the issues stressed during the event marking 50 years of Israeli-German ties.
And since the relations with Israel turned into relations of "friendship and partnership," as Steinmeier said, the German minister noted that Germany was careful not to intervene in Israel's internal issues, although it allowed itself to participate in the fiery debate over the Nationality Bill in the past summer and get annoyed when Netanyahu called on France's Jews to immigrate to Israel following the terror attacks in Paris. Steinmeier referred to that call as "irritating."
And so, 50 years after the "reconciliation miracle," Germany is intervening in the internal discussion over the Jewish state's Jewish character and protesting the fact that the Israeli prime minister is calling on Jews to immigrate to the land of Jews. It sounds like a denial of Zionism. But in order to push away such a suspicion, they are making use of Israelis who say the exact same things. If Israelis are saying it, why shouldn't Germans?
Germany invests a lot of money in Israel in order to determine the nature of the dialogue it holds with Israel – in the academia, in the media, in politics. So it's no wonder that a study published last week by German foundation Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung found that about 70% of Israelis have a positive attitude towards Germany.
A study about the Germans' attitude towards Israel has not been conducted ahead of the 50th anniversary. There is no doubt that the findings of such a survey would have been alarming: While most Israelis have reconciled with the Germans, most Germans feel animosity bordering on hatred towards Israel.
Fifty years of diplomatic ties have led to one-sided reconciliation. And now that Israel has been appeased, it can also be told what to do.