Is bad will towards Germany vanishing from Israeli society?
Once, it was common to hear people say they refuse to buy German goods. A new Hebrew University poll reveals that today only 6% of Israeli citizens today do so.
In fact, Israelis are pretty engaged with German culture. A third of respondents said they had watched a German movie of recent.
Among Jewish Israelis, pollsters found that some 61% are very satisfied with how Germany has dealt with Holocaust memorial and four in five think that Germany today is a “different Germany” to that which carried out the Holocaust. When the same pollsters asked that question on several occasions during the 1980s, the figure was always fifty-something percent.
In the new poll, when asked about German’s role in the Middle East, Jewish Israelis were very positive. Some 54% said they have confidence in Germany — 9% more than have confidence in France. Interestingly, only 27% of Israeli Arabs said they have confidence in Germany. This reflects a feeling among Arabs that Germany is pro-Israel. But it goes deeper.
It reflects the popular narrative that Arabs in Israel/Palestine are paying the price of German atrocities during the Holocaust, and that some Arabs see themselves as the indirect victims of the Holocaust. And of course in their view, Germany has moved to right its wrongs against Jews, but the idea that Arabs are also its victims has never come on to the German agenda.
Back to the results for Jewish Israelis, what does all this tell us? Is it an encouraging story of a nation that committed a historical wrong righting its society and dealing responsibly with commemoration so effective that relations are normalizing (four in five Jewish Israelis said Israel-Germany relations are today “normal)? Yes, but here is a less happy sub-plot.
The director of the poll Moshe Zimmerman, head of Hebrew University’s Richard Koebner Minerva Centre for German History, thinks that part of what is going on here is that Israelis see themselves as aligned with the Christian world, including Germany, and pitted against the Islamic world. In other words, dislike pointed in one direction is making way for dislike pointed in another.