So German Chancellor Angela Merkel flew to Jerusalem this week and this was a thing that happened while she was there. O.K., O.K. The shadow of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s finger on her upper lip makes her look like a past German head of state who shall remain nameless. We get it. This is just a coincidence that does not indicate anything about Merkel or Germany’s attitude toward Israel or the Jews. That’s all that needs to be said.
Indeed, the fact that this awkward moment is no more than an uncomfortable joke for the international media is really an indication of how far Germany has come since the Third Reich — or even since 1961, when Merkel’s predecessor Konrad Adenauer sent a secret agent to Jerusalem during the trial of Nazi official Adolf Eichmann. Adenauer hoped to ensure that during the trial, Israeli prosecutors did not reveal anything about the Nazi histories of German officials in his government at the time. It wasn’t until 1965 that the two countries established formal diplomatic relations.
Now, even as the economic crisis has fostered resurgent far-right movements in other European countries, such as the Golden Dawn in Greece, these have attracted comparatively little support in Germany.
Yes, Merkel’s government includes several senior officials who have spoken harshly about Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, enraging the Israeli right. But if there is ever going to be any possibility of peace in that part of the world, we all need to acknowledge that criticizing Israel’s policies, or appointing someone who does, does not always mean you are a Nazi.
The photograph above was taken by Yoav Lemmer for Agence France-Presse and was made available by Getty Images. Click below for more on the relationship between Germany and Israel.