Skip to main content

Merkel Netanyahu Li Rui/ZumaPress

The Limits of German Guilt

Since Germany and Israel established diplomatic ties 50 years ago this month, the relationship has become a solid one. But historic guilt is no longer adequate to compel Germany to support Israel’s wrongheaded policies – especially when those policies are victimizing another group, the Palestinians.

MUNICH – This month marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel. The bilateral relationship, born in the wake of the Nazis’ annihilation of European Jewry, has developed into a solid one. But fading memories of the Holocaust among younger Germans, together with Israel’s declining international standing, have lately challenged the official discourse about “special” ties between the two countries.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father and the architect of Israel’s reconciliation with Germany, was a pragmatist through and through. He knew that forging a partnership with Germany, which included reparations that would help boost Israel’s capabilities, could go a long way toward securing Israel’s survival.

Of course, the reparations – which began in 1952 – served Germany’s interests, too. The best way to regain international legitimacy after World War II was to atone publicly for the atrocities committed by the Nazis, and reconcile with the world’s Jewish population.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/E4Nf9dg;
  1. bildt69_DELIL SOULEIMANAFP via Getty Images_syriansoldiermissilegun Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images

    Time to Bite the Bullet in Syria

    Carl Bildt

    US President Donald Trump's impulsive decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria and allow Turkey to launch a military campaign against the Kurds there has proved utterly disastrous. But a crisis was already inevitable, given the realities on the ground and the absence of a coherent US or Western policy in Syria.

    8

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions