Thursday, May 14, 2015

Germany: Why does Germany’s young generation hold negative views of Israel?

Benjamin Weinthal wites @ The Jerusalem Post:

The peerless Middle East historian Bernard Lewis wrote nearly 30 years ago in his groundbreaking book Semites and Anti-Semites that German guilt after the Holocaust contributed to the positive response to the founding of Israel. However, he warned presciently that “such feelings are a dwindling asset to Israel, and must inevitably die away as the memory of Nazi crimes recedes into the past.”  [...]

Putting aside the scores of articles about young Israeli artists living in Berlin as an implied sign of Jewish forgiveness for the Shoah, there is a growing lack of reciprocity from the German side. According to an October Bertelsmann Foundation study, a majority of Germans in the important 18-29 age group holds a negative view of Israel. In stark contrast to the Bertelsmann finding, a January Konrad Adenauer Foundation study showed 81% of Israelis desire closer relations with Germany.  
How does one interpret this disconnect? Zvi Rex, an Israeli psychoanalyst famously remarked with piercing sarcasm that the “Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.” While pathological Holocaust guilt surely plays a factor in the negative view toward Israel, the young generation has also been inculcated in a radical pacifist culture.  Many young Germans simply cannot internalize Israel’s self-defense wars against lethal anti-Semitic terroristic organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad. It seems to pain sizable numbers of young Germans to extend the German slogan “Never Again Auschwitz” beyond the frontiers of their borders to the Jewish state.

An additional explanation for pejorative views toward Israel is the repentant new generations that serve, as the writer Wolfgang Pohrt described, as Israel’s probation officers to prevent “their victims from relapsing.” Put simply, large numbers of Germans feel they have worked through the crimes of the Holocaust and are now positioned to provide didactic lessons to Israelis about the need for peace.  German anti-Israel resentment among all walks of life in the Federal Republic reach higher peaks when Israel pursues its own security interests independent of German politicians calling for restraint.

The growing urge to impose discipline and punishment on Israel has permeated a large part of Germany’s left-leaning civil society. [...]

Writing in the Badische Zeitung, a paper included in the Simon Wiesenthal’s 2013 list of anti-Semitic/anti-Israel slurs, Inge Günther, a German reporter for the Frankfuter Rundschau—a paper affiliated with the SPD—urged that Israeli products from the disputed territories be labeled as a form of discouraging settlement activity. Günther, a correspondent in Israel who covered the 50th anniversary, wrote that “the world has to make clear that Israel has to pay a price.”

What is frequently overlooked is that the beginning of the campaign to demarcate Israeli products can be found in neo-Nazi legislation from the city council of Schwerin in 2012. It is unclear whether Günther was aware that her remedy for punishing Israel mirrors a local NPD neo-Nazi legislative act. More.

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