When Angela Merkel visited Israel in March, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert personally greeted the German chancellor at the airport. From the moment she arrived, Merkel enjoyed full red carpet treatment from her Jewish hosts.
During the trip, Merkel heartily reaffirmed Germany’s “special” relationship with Israel. In a groundbreaking speech delivered before the Knesset, she expressed repentance of German atrocities committed during World War II and pledged that Germany would “never abandon Israel, but instead will remain a loyal partner and friend.”
The consensus among Israel’s leaders and media pundits after the visit was, Germany is now Israel’s second-best friend.
Indeed, judging by the flirtatious political dialogue, it appears the Israeli-German relationship is in radiant health. In tow with Merkel was half the German cabinet, who conducted an inaugural joint-cabinet meeting with Israeli counterparts in the Knesset. Both governments agreed to hold joint sessions once a year, with Germany hosting in 2009.
Germany is Israel’s second-largest trade partner behind America, and is apparently proving a solid ally to the Jews within European politics. “Within the European Union,” noted the center-left Economist, “Germany lobbies against one-sided criticism of Israeli behavior towards the Palestinians. It championed the 2000 association agreement, which liberalized trade between the EU and Israel. When the EU debates the Middle East, Germany is said by some to keep Israel quietly in the loop. Israel’s trust in Germany has even lessened its longstanding aversion to giving the EU a formal role in the Middle East peace process” (May 19, emphasis mine throughout).
Note that last sentence: Israel’s acceptance of the EU as a key player in the peace process is largely a result of its trust in Germany. That signifies a momentous change in Israel’s foreign policy. The nation’s trust in Germany is deepening to the point where historic concerns about European meddling in Israel’s affairs are becoming redundant. “Israel-European relations are at their highest point in a very long time,” wrote Barry Rubin in the Jerusalem Post. “Relations are now probably better than at any time since the early 1980s. … Today, the governments of the four main European countries—France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom—are all quite friendly toward Israel, with the first three being especially so” (May 5).
Rubin and the others who see German-Israeli relations at a historic high point are partially right. Today there are a handful of European leaders—and Angela Merkel sits atop the list—who genuinely support Israel and the Jewish cause. But they miss another reality: Pro-Israel leaders are a minority in Germany and Europe.
The Anti-Israel Mainstream
For Israel’s leaders to interpret the warmth of a few as the will of the majority is naive and foolhardy. Behind the courageous pro-Israel viewpoint of Angela Merkel, a highly dangerous anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism pervades the German mainstream.
Merkel simply does not have the support of her people to act in any meaningful way on her bold rhetoric. In fact, her pro-Israel attitude could easily lead to her political demise. It is foolish for the Israelis to invest their hope in the Merkel administration!
In April, a bbc-sponsored survey showed that Germans were among Europeans with the least favorable views of Israel. A Bertelsmann Foundation poll in 2007 showed that 3 in 10 Germans have no qualms comparing Israel today to fascist Germany. That’s a telling figure. Thirty percent of Germans aren’t merely indifferent toward Israel, they actually believe the Jewish state to be akin to Hitler’s Germany!
For as much as the Merkel administration declares its love of Israel, Germany today remains one of the largest trading partners of Iran, Israel’s sworn enemy and the single-greatest threat to Jewish statehood. Moreover, criticizing and condemning Israel’s efforts to defend itself against attacks from Hamas remains a mainstream pastime among German intellectuals, media and political elite.
In May, another poll, conducted for Germany’s zdf television, further exposed the painful reality of Germans’ true feelings for Israel. Fifty-three percent of Germans said they have no “special responsibility” toward Israel because of their nation’s history. As positive as Merkel’s promise that Germany has a “special responsibility” toward Israel was, the fact that more than half of Germans disagree with her reduces it to little more than a personal pledge, rather than a national priority and commitment.
Moreover, these figures will only worsen as older Germans die and new generations of Germans less inhibited by the actions of their Nazi forefathers come on the scene. The report found that among 30-to-39-year-olds, only 29 percent believe their nation bears any “special responsibility” toward the Jewish state.
The poll also exposed the fickleness of German support for Israel: While 58 percent of Germans would want their nation to support Israel politically (that is, with words) if it were attacked, 57 percent said Germany should not support Israel with money, and a mere 13 percent believe Germany should send troops to help. Eighty-one percent of Germans believe their government should not send troops to Israel’s defense if it were attacked.
The day after Merkel’s Knesset speech, the Jerusalem Post’s Manfred Gerstenfeld wrote a column noting the dichotomy between the German chancellor and her people: “Few in Israel realize that a majority of Germans probably disagree with several key statements she made here about her country’s past—including the mention of shame and guilt—in the Knesset.
“In contemporary Germany there are significant expressions of anti-Semitism and racism. This includes attacks on Jews, their cemeteries and Holocaust monuments, together with ongoing anti-Semitic prejudice toward Jews among significant parts of the population. In eastern Germany particularly, there are no-go areas for non-white people in several cities, major racist incidents and sometimes even murders.
“At the same time, there are efforts in Germany to rewrite the past. Books by historian Jörg Friedrich, who compares the Allied actions to his nation’s atrocities during the war, are bestsellers. They promote ‘Holocaust equivalence’ by using Nazi semantics to describe the Allied bombings of Germany during World War II. Another aspect of the same attitude is expressed by the many Germans who think that Israel is showing Nazi-like behavior toward the Palestinians. What they mean to say is, ‘If everybody is guilty, then nobody is’” (March 19).
As inspiring as Merkel’s speech might have been to Israel’s leaders, the reality is that the German chancellor is a lone voice crying in the wilderness!
A Spectacular Double Cross
Israel’s leaders and media pundits ought to be considering this evidence and asking themselves one simple question: Can Israel trust Germany? Even a child would answer with a resounding no! Yet Israel’s leaders are still showing increasing trust despite the deadly anti-Semitic, anti-Israel sentiment saturating the collective German mindset.
This scenario exhibits all the signs of a spectacular double cross in the making.
And that’s exactly what is going to occur. How do we know? Because this event was prophesied in the Old Testament. The Jews cherish the Old Testament and their rich history with the ancient prophets. Yet they ignore the message from God that these great men preached. More than 2,500 years ago, the Prophet Hosea wrote about Germany’s impending double cross of Israel: “When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound” (Hosea 5:13).
The context of this passage shows that this is a prophecy for the end time. Avid Trumpet readers will have proved that Ephraim, Judah and Assyria are the biblical names for the nations of Britain, Israel and Germany, respectively. If you haven’t done this yet, you can do so by requesting your free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy. This scripture is talking specifically about the current German-Israeli relationship and the impending German double cross.
Anti-Israel, anti-Semitic sentiment will continue to intensify in Germany. In spite of this deadly trend, we should expect Israel’s leaders to increasingly rely on Germany as a friend and ally. They will do this for two primary reasons. First, America’s ability and willingness to support Israel are both diminishing, forcing Jewish leaders to seek other alliances. Second, in the short term, the German government is foisting itself off as an ardent supporter of the Jewish state. As long as these trends exist, conditions will ripen for this vicious German double cross.
Instead of investing their trust and hope in God, who has repeatedly and powerfully revealed Himself as a great protector throughout Jewish history when they did so, Israel’s leaders today are prepared to invest their trust and hope in a nation that 60 years ago destroyed the lives of 6 million Jews. They refuse to turn to God—the only source of help, not just for the Jews, but for all of mankind!