Menu JTA Search

Outgoing Israel Envoy Says ‘special’ Ties with Israel Persist Among German People

Yochanan Meroz Israel’s outgoing Ambassador to West Germany, believes that that country’s “very special relationship” with Israel persists among the population, though it has eroded at the official level and is less important to the younger generation than to those who lived through the Nazi era. Meroz, who spent seven years as Ambassador to Bonn, said he gained his impressions from many thousands of Germans with whom he spoke in groups and in private conversations.

He said on an Israel Radio interview yesterday that all had acknowledged that relations between Germany and Is were unlike those with other countries however much the others had been harmed by the Nazis.

But, he noted, attitudes are changing, apparently because of Germany’s membership in the European Economic Community (EEC) and in the United Nations, both of which tended to downgrade the special relationship with Israel. He also said there was a “worrisome shift” away from the centrality of Germany’s concern for Israel in its general dialogue with world Jewry. He attributed this to “biological reasons” — the passing of the older generation which bore a larger measure of responsibility for Nazi crimes than those born since World War II.

Meroz said that he gathered from his talks with West Germany’s Chancellor Helmut Schmidt that while there were many points of disagreement, Schmidt had a broad understanding of Israel’s aims. He said Germany’s policy of selling modern weaponry to Saudi Arabia was “still fluid” and no decisions have been taken yet.

He summed up his seven years of service in Bonn as “interesting and fascinating.”

NEXT STORY