Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Gulf War Has Made Israeli Public More Wary Than Ever About Germany

March 21, 1991
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israelis now have stronger negative attitudes toward Germany than at any time in the last 10 years, according to the latest public opinion survey.

It goes deeper than resentment of Germany’s equivocal policies in the recent Persian Gulf crisis, experts said.

The poll was conducted under the auspices of the Koebner Chair in German History at the Hebrew University.

A random sampling of 1,200 Israeli Jews over age 18 was interviewed. Of that number, 36 percent believed German-Israeli relations could not be described as normal, up from 20 percent who felt that way in a poll taken last year.

Ten years ago, 30 percent gave a negative response.

According to 34.5 percent of the respondents, today’s Germany is not a “different Germany” from the Germany of World War II, the Third Reich.

Such feelings were reported by only 13 percent 10 years ago.

Asked to rate five nations — the United States, France, Germany, Holland and the Soviet Union — only the Soviet Union received a more negative response than Germany. Among 10 possible ratings, Germany ranked lowest.

Professor Moshe Zimmerman, who now holds the Koebner Chair, attributed Germany’s negative image to the way it is portrayed in the local press, against the background of Israelis’ collective memory of history.

But according to Zimmerman, these public attitudes will not affect Israel’s pragmatic approach to Germany, based on its leading role in European affairs.

The poll’s results can be contrasted with the official Israeli position, voiced last week during Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy’ visit to Germany.

Following Germany’s economic and political offerings to Israel, the Jewish state seemed prepared to forget, or at least play down, anger at Bonn for the help German firms gave Iraq to produce poison gas.

Levy praised the Bonn government for solidarity it demonstrated with Israel when it came under Scud attack from Iraq. Bonn gave Israel humanitarian financial aid and sent special tanks equipped to detect nuclear, biological or chemical gases.

Recommended from JTA