Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Most Germans reject notion of 'special responsibility' toward Israel

This leaves 48% of Germans believing that they have a significant obligation toward Israel, although 91% wish to remain neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ...

From The Jerusalem Post:

"A little more than 60 years after the Holocaust, a public opinion poll shows that a majority of Germans believe their country has no special responsibility toward Israel.

A recent opinion poll conducted by the German television station Sat1/N24 and the Emnid polling organization revealed that 52 percent of 1,000 respondents see no significant obligation toward the Jewish state.

Sat1 spokeswoman Kristina Fassler told The Jerusalem Post that the finding is "extremely alarming" and displays "an ignorance of history" in Germany. (...)

The result of the survey prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel, who just completed a three-day visit to Israel, to say before her visit: "This is exactly the reason why we must place Israeli-German relations on a sustainable footing, and in addition we must remember our history." (…)

Josef Joffe, a leading German commentator and co-publisher of the widely read German weekly Die Zeit, told the Post that "What the government does is more weighty than what the pollsters find out."

Joffe sees Germany's "friendship with Israel not as a popular project but as a government project," and stressed that under Merkel's tenure German foreign policy had shifted in a more defined and clearer commitment toward Israel.

The gap between Merkel's defense of Israel's right to counterattack in response to rocket fire from Hamas terrorists in Gaza and German mainstream opinion remains dramatic. Joffe cited a Der Spiegel opinion poll in his Die Zeit commentary showing that 91% of the German public wish to remain "neutral" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and only 3% back the Israeli side, while 1% embrace the Palestinian view."

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