When I was a child, Jews didn’t buy German cars. It wasn’t done, for obvious reasons. But from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s twitter feed the other day:
Prime Minister’s Office Trivia Question: Do you recognize this vehicle? Let us know what you think it is! http://ow.ly/i/2wD37
Here’s some context for understanding the Israeli relationship with Germany. Netanyahu spoke of the Holocaust to the Congress in May 2011 but always in reference to Iran. The word Germany did not appear in that speech.
Now, the threat to my country cannot be overstated. Those who dismiss it are sticking their heads on the stand. Less than seven decades after 6 million Jews were murdered, Iran’s leaders deny the Holocaust of the Jewish people while calling for the annihilation of the Jewish state…
But there’s something that makes the outrage even greater. Do you know what that is? It’s the lack of outrage, because in much of the international community, the call(s) for our destruction are met with utter silence. It’s even worse because there are many who rush to condemn Israel for defending itself against Iran’s terror proxies. Not you. Not America. (Applause.)
You’ve acted differently. You’ve condemned the Iranian regime for its genocidal aims. You’ve passed tough sanctions against Iran.
History will salute you, America. (Applause.)….Now, as for Israel, if history has taught the Jewish people anything, it is that we must take calls for our destruction seriously.We are a nation that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust. When we say never again, we mean never again. (Applause.) Israel always reserves — (applause) — Israel always reserves the right to defend itself. (Applause.)
When he spoke in Germany last year, alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel, Netanyahu said not a word about the Holocaust or Nazi history, but focused on the attempts to “wipe out the Jewish state” — even during a period when Jews in the country he was visiting were in huge danger:
The attempt to wipe out the Jewish state was conducted from 1920 to 1967, 47 years, when there wasn’t a single Israeli settlement or a single Israeli soldier in the West Bank or in Gaza.
At that time, Netanyahu described the relationship with Germany as a special relationship:
I know, and I heard it again yesterday and today, how important to you is the relationship between Israel and Germany. You said it’s not just another relationship; it’s a special relationship and it’s deeply felt, that you deeply feel it. And I appreciate it greatly. I appreciate the time and energy that you’re devoting to strengthening this relationship…
We spoke today about the various realms of cooperation – scientific, economic, academic, cultural – in every possible way between our two countries.
Last year I did a post on traveling through Israel and Palestine, and my friend Bill spoke of how the Israel-Germany friendship affects Palestinians.
I told Bill what an old Palestinian guy on the bus from Ramallah said about Nakba reparations. “The Jews got reparations for their Nakba. Did you know that? They got money from the Germans. But we have never gotten money for the Nakba. It’s been 63 years, and we’ve never gotten anything.”
I said to Bill, “But the Holocaust and the Nakba, they’re not really the same.”“They are and they’re not,” Bill said. “Of course it’s not genocide, it’s not gas chambers. But it was an effort to destroy a people, to turn the cultural landscape of the place upside down. And there’s something else to what he’s saying. After El Al, the most flights in here are Lufthansa. And what’s the most popular cab in Israel? Mercedes. So Palestinians look at all that and they say, ‘They tried to wipe them out and now they have all this stuff from them, and they get along? What’s going on?’ It’s been 63 years and they have nothing. Add anger and cynicism and it’s easy to see how all sorts of crazy conspiracy theories about the Holocaust and Zionism can resonate.”
Thanks to Scott Roth for conception of this post. He’s been on the Spitzer beat.