.. h neither has yet been able to overcome completely. Shortly after the division of Germany the Israeli government started mentioning the fact that the Germans have to pay for what they did to the Jews during the Holocaust and for the horrors committed by Hitler and his followers. It was through compensation that the relationship between Israel and West Germany began. The requirement that the Germans must pay compensation to the victims of Nazi oppression, to those, that is, who were physically or economically harmed for reasons of race, creed or nationality (Lavy, 1).
While the German government was more than willing to pay this compensation, German public, emerging from years of starvation and economic ruin, was not eager to take this step since there were other priorities that should come first. Many Germans felt they had had no part in the destruction of European Jewry and that no blame therefore attached to them (Lavy, 2). The Israeli public on the other side was not ready for such a relation with the Germans, but the Israeli government saw the compensation offered by West Germany too tempting to be rejected. Israel was not wealthy at that time; it had few natural resources, its land was largely desert, and it was surrounded by neighbors willing to engage in war at any time. Adding to all this the problem of settling thousands of immigrants, who were arriving to Israel every year. So, Israel was not able to reject the compensation, but at the same time secrecy was preserved by the two sides to prevent any discontent by the public.
Germans also knew that the Jewish people are not ready for good relations with them. Official Germany was prepared to exercise patience: the healing process would need time and the Federal Government would not press the issue, but would wait until Israel is ready (Lavy, 32). Later on, due to political changes and pressures in Israel, politicians there recognized the importance of the West German State and the urgent need to come to terms with it. Step by step the Jews were showing signs of readiness to strengthen the relations with the Germans. The Prime Minister, Moshe Sharett, mentioned in an informal interview the possibility o a West German consulate in Tel Aviv (Lavy, 33).
In fear of public disagreement he excluded full diplomatic relations for the time being. Later on in early 1956 the Israeli government stated that it no longer objects to the establishment of full diplomatic relations. In the same year West Germany started helping Israel economically, which in one way or another helped increasing Israels war potential. So, for some time the German-Israeli relations began to develop all behind the scenes, in a way that was of great importance to the security if not the existence of the Jewish State. The attack on the Suez Canal by Britain, France and Israel all at the same time was met with displeasure by the United States, who cut off arms supplies to the Jewish State.
For Ben-Gurion to exploit the only remaining source, the Federal Republic, was a bold step, fraught with great political danger to his [ ] government (Lavy, 48). Secret agreements were successfully developing the military relationship between the two countries. When the secret was finally revealed to the public, it paradoxically led to the normalization of official relations between the two states. West Germanys effort to establish close relations with Israel was regarded as a symbol for the Germans intention to overcome what they did in the past. By the end of 1961 the value of West German military equipment sent to Israel had reached DM 20 million, a small amount considering what followed later (Lavy, 53).
These payments of large sums of money and the military aid given to the Jewish State are ways by the Germans to win the forgiveness of the Jews for the Holocaust. Yet the Jews always made it clear that material restitution could never completely repay such a debt (Lavy, 72). Recalling an article I read 4 or 5 weeks ago in Al-Ahram about a conversation that went on between an Egyptian and an Israeli, who got to talk together in Sharm El-Shaykh. The conversation was about the bombs still present in the ground of Sinai, which lead to several deaths every year. The Israeli told the Egyptian, that if this was to happen in Israel then the Israelis would have been paid for every single leg, arm and even finger that gets hurt because of these bombs.
It is very obvious from this kind of conversation that the Israelis know how to get money. Even if this money will regretfully not bring the dead people back, it will help the now living people have a better chance than their predecessors. It seems that the Jews were able to use the Holocaust for realizing their own goals. Back in the 1960s Israeli politicians wished that Germanys aid would continue as a mark of the Germans moral debt for the crimes committed against the Jewish people during the Second World War (Lavy, 137). As a matter of fact this wish came true and Germans are till this very day paying for the Jews and for what has happened more than 50 years ago.
At the beginning of the 21st century a meeting was held between the Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping in Tel Aviv. At this meeting Barak noted the close ties between Israel and Germany and expressed the gratitude of the Israeli government for Germanys contribution toward the construction of the navys new submarines. The three submarines were built in shipyards in northern Germany, and two of them were funded by Germany (Barzilai, 1). Germany is now seen as the second largest supplier of weapons systems, after the United States. Although Germany tries to be as neutral as it could be concerning the weapons sales to the region, it has sold Patriot missile batteries to Israel. Also during the 1998 Gulf war Germany provided Israel with thousands of gas masks (Barzilai, 2). There are still many people in Germany today who want to remember the past and are sympathetic towards Israel, and the government even if it does not admit it, is still aware of the moral debt.
But with the changes in Europe and the ultimate passing of the Holocaust generation in both countries the relationship is likely one day to become normal in every sense. As seen above, the Holocaust could be seen not only as a painful memory for the Jews, but as very beneficial to the Jews, especially for their newly established state. This state could not have been established so easily if it was not for the Holocaust. The Holocaust was one of the main reasons for the worlds acceptance of the idea that the Jews needed a homeland for themselves. The Holocaust also resulted in the constant German and United States constant aids and economic supplies during the past 50 years.
Not only this, but the Holocaust was used as an excuse for what the Jews did to the Palestinians since they came to their land. One Egyptian political scientist said that during his stay in the United States for 10 years he learned that propaganda was very important for the Jews. This is a tool they learned from Hitler, who used the same method to have the acceptance and encouragement of the public. The political scientist told me that whenever he heard that the Israelis killed or injured Palestinians, he knew that as soon as he would open the TV he would find three or four documentary films picturing the Holocaust. These films were played to revive the guilt and sympathy within the people and make them see this as an excuse for what the Israelis are doing nowadays to the Palestinians.
No denying that the media and the propaganda that comes with it are very important tools nowadays in political life, in justifying certain acts and winning the public opinion. The Jews learned the lesson from Hitler and knew how to use the painful Holocaust for their own benefit. If the Holocaust killed 5,860,000 Jews and wounded several other millions, Jews should not forget that the Holocaust miraculously revived current generations and gave them a homeland of their own and a life better than the one they ever dreamed of. Bibliography Citation List Barzilai, Ammon. Ties with Germany will Broaden.
Haaretz 11 Jan 2000. Cargas, Harry J. ed. When God and Man Failed. Non-Jewish Views of the Holocaust.
New York: Macmillan, 1981. Chalfen, Daniel J. Was the State of Israel created because of the Holocaust? (Internet). Lavy, George. Germany and Israel. Moral Debt and National Interest.
London: Frank Cass, 1996. Political Issues Essays.