Behind the Headlines Anti-american Feelings in Germany Spill over to Anti-israel Feelings
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Behind the Headlines Anti-american Feelings in Germany Spill over to Anti-israel Feelings

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An increased wave of anti-American feelings in West Germany is seen by diplomats here as a phenomenon likely to exacerbate the problem of Israel’s image and to trigger a further deterioration in the relationship between Bonn and Jerusalem. At the same time, however, there is hope among friends of the United States and of Israel that German leaders will take decisive action to help change that situation.

How Israel is linked here to any anti-American feelings was illustrated by a television report following the dogfight between U.S. and Libyan aircraft off the coast of Libya last week. A reporter for the German-operated TV Channel One described the dogfight as an American calculated demonstration of force, implying that the clash was provoked by the U.S.

A commentator said later that the American action was in line with Washington’s support for Israel, which he described as its “Middle East client.” The whole issue was presented in the media as part of President Reagan’s “aggressive” policies and wide coverage was given to Arab reactions linking Israel and “world Zionism” to the Reagan Administration’s new security policy.

The dogfight supplied more ammunition to a wide coalition of anti-American groups here which criticize the U.S. for being too tough toward the Russians and for allegedly developing a strategy of avoiding a full-scale nuclear catastrophe by preparing for a possible “limited” nuclear war on European soil. The opposition to having American-made neutron bombs stored in Europe is part of a widespread campaign against having any U.S. offensive weapons in Europe. Originally this campaign was aimed solely against the U.S., but of late has drawn Israel into the firing line.


In recent days, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) opposition has warned against what it views as anti-Americanism in some quarters of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD). The same warning, though in a weaker form, was issued by former President Walter Scheel and by Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher. Chancellor Helmut Schmidt himself said he has detected the anti-American trend in public opinion and in his own party and has urged that the U.S. should be careful not to be identified with a policy that appears to make it unwilling to reduce world tensions.

An Israeli diplomat here said the anti-American trend is bad news for Jerusalem because it tends to identify Israel with what is perceived to be a bellicose American military stance and thereby places Israel in a negative light. Reversing the anti-American trend would give Israel a more positive image, and the diplomat expressed hope that German political leaders could stem the tide of anti-American feelings.

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