A Daily Analysis- Special
By Yael Schulman
March 17, 2008 German Chancellor Visits Israel
"To move on or not to move on, that is the question"
German Chancellor and President of the European Union Angela Merkel and eight ministers of GermanyÌs government arrived in Israel yesterday for a three day official visit marking IsraelÌs 60th anniversary. Today Prime Minister Olmert joined Merkel and the other ministers at Yad VaÌshem. Before leaving the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority for the joint government meeting, the German Chancellor signed the guestbook. She wrote, ÏIn recognition of Germany's responsibility for the Shoah, the German government underlines with the first German-Israeli consultations its determination for a joint shaping of the future."
How are Israelis and Jewish people worldwide supposed to feel about this strong friendship? Whether we like to admit it or not, following World War Two, Germany has been a good friend to Israel. In my opinion, this is due to their guilt for the sins and horrors of the Holocaust combined with their fears of being once again accused of anti-Semitism. Does their regret mean we should absolve the current generation of Germans of their fatherÌs and grandfatherÌs crimes?
Perhaps the answer is yes. Perhaps the answer is we should at least try. But a much more difficult question is how can I look in my grandmotherÌs eyes, as someone who lost her entire family 65 years ago in the hands of the Nazis, and tell her that the German flag is hanging high outside of my office in the Knesset today? Tomorrow Merkel is going to give a speech in the Knesset plenum in German. Many Knesset Members tried to stop this from happening, but they were warned that if she was not allowed to speak in her native language, it would result in diplomatic crisis between the two countries. Everyone knows that in the current climate, a Îdiplomatic crisisÌ must be avoided at all costs.
Does at all costs really mean that in the face the Holocaust survivors who are still alive and those who are not, in the face of Holocaust survivors in Israel, some of which are poverty stricken and hungry, and in memory of the six million who were murdered, German should be spoken in the Israeli Parliament? Had there been an Israeli parliament in 1939, perhaps the disaster that befell the Jews of Europe could have been avoided.
I am a capitalist and a realist. I believe that countries must do everything in their power to climb the economic and social ladder of the world and succeed. More than almost anything, I pray that Israel will have the strength to continue the battle of survival and will someday be able to live at peace with our fellow United Nation members. It is obvious that survival takes sacrifice and that sacrifice, and we all know, is usually painful. What if anything is Israel sacrificing by befriending a former arch-enemy?
While I do not consider myself to represent the greatness of leaders such as Herzl and Ben Gurion, I would like to believe that at least a tiny bit of their ideal exists in me. I question how much of GermanyÌs past lives on in Germans today. As I will eternally honor my grandparents, I wonder if my German peers feel the same towards theirs.