Israeli Affairs (Issue no. 70)

the relations between Israel and Germany.

  • Translator: , Eyad Barghouthi, Salim Salameh, Mona Abu-Bakr, Yaseen Al Sayyed
  • Preparation: Ali Haydar, Ahmad Ezz-Eldeen Asa’d, Fady Asleh, Honaida Ghanim, Yael Almog, Amos Goldberg, Daniel Marwecki, Neve Gordon, Yehouda Shenhav, Galili Shahar, Inon Cohen, Weaam Baloum,
  • Number of Pages: 130
  • ISBN: 978-9950-03-016-9
  • Date of update: Monday, 01 January 2018
  • Price: $0.00

The theme of this issue has its focus on the relations between Israel and Germany. Beyond doubt, the entry point to understand these relations lies in the Holocaust, which befell European Jews under the Nazi regime.

Initially, there was no consensus in Israel on how to deal with the German state following the integration of Nazism. As it did not wish to engage in direct negotiations with the Germans, Israel addressed the Allied Powers to claim compensations from Germany. However, having felt the wind of the Cold War, the USA and the West were eager to include West Germany in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The payment of compensations would pave the way to West Germany’s membership of the NATO.

In the meantime, Israel decided to accommodate hundreds of thousands of Jews who immigrated from Arab countries. Then, the economic situation in Israel coincided with Germany’s desire to return to the international stage as a sovereign country. Against this backdrop, negotiations were launched on compensations.

German Chancellor Adenauer’s address to the Bundestag was the point of departure for these negotiations. The address was brief and concise: Adenauer did not recognise the responsibility of the German people as the majority of Germans opposed and resisted the Nazi regime. Nevertheless, Adenauer admitted the crimes against the Jews and Jewish properties.

The address was sufficient to initiate and proceed with the negotiations on compensations. It also marked the start of economic and military relations between both sides.

Domination of the Holocaust over the moral and political discourse in Germany did not take place in the 1950s. Rather, it came to light and developed in later stages. Undoubtedly, the USA played a key role in consolidating the Holocaust as an intellectual and moral milestone in the 20th century.

Interestingly, though, economic and military cooperation between Germany and Israel preceded the apology and taking ownership of the historical, moral and political responsibility.

Will Israel’s relations with Germany continue to be overshadowed by the Holocaust?
The Holocaust memory continues to be a landmark.

Israel’s security, existence and future is a cornerstone in Germany’s foreign policy. However, it is neither clear nor perceived what Israel’s security and existence mean. Where are the borders of Israel? What is the relationship between occupation and security? Over the past few years, particularly after Trump was elected President of the USA, particular differences in the foreign policies of Germany and Israel seem to be in place.

The first dispute concerns International Law and international bodies. Contrary to Israel, Germany seems to attach great importance to these in the making of its foreign policy. Secondly, differences have recently surfaced regarding the Iranian nuclear file. The administration of this issue seems to involve serious disagreement between the USA and Israel on the one hand, and between Germany and Israel on the other.

Thirdly, the approach to the Palestinian file has clearly featured serious differences. This disagreement has not risen to the level of a serious, open confrontation.

Finally, Germany follows up on the government of Israel’s prosecution of activities carried out by human rights organisations. Some of these actors enjoy the direct support of the German government.

So far, these disagreements have not changed the essence of the relation between the two states, nor have they affected Germany’s unconditional commitment to Israel. However, disagreement indicates that a potential change in the distant future is seen as a possibility.

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Friday, October 22, 2021


The Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies (MADAR) is an independent research centre specialising in Israeli affairs, based in Ramallah, Palestine. MADAR was established in 2000 by a group of Palestinian intellectuals and academics, including the late poet Mahmoud Darwish, Dr. Lily Feidy, Dr. Ali Jarbawi, Dr. Ahmad Harb, Mr. Walid Al-Ahmad and Mr. Akram Haniyyeh. The centre was registered as a not-for-profit organisation with the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, and obtained a research centre’s operational licensing from the Palestinian Ministry of Information.