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Nearly two-thirds of Germans think of Israel as just another country, a new survey shows.

Half of the 1,009 respondents in a poll commissioned by the Berliner Zeitung newspaper also believe that Germany’s period of atonement for the Holocaust should be over. Germany is widely viewed as one of Israel’s strongest supporters in Europe and its leaders emphasize the “special relationship” between the two countries.

In saying they want to treat Israel like any other country, the Germans polled said Israel should not be singled out for special criticism nor receive special backing

While 36 percent said Germany has a special role to play in supporting Israel because of the Nazi genocide of European Jewry, 56 percent rejected that notion.

The survey, conducted by the Forsa Institute, found that more former east Germans than west Germans seem to want a normalization of the relationship, 70 percent to 62 percent.

Two months ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel brought members of her cabinet to Jerusalem for an unprecedented exchange with their Israeli counterparts and became the first head of state to address the Israeli Knesset. Pro-Israel observers for years have been concerned about waning public support. Charlotte Knobloch, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told Berliner Zeitung she was worried about the apparent trend, but emphasized that relations continue to be positive.

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