The rapprochement between Germany and Israel in the aftermath of the Holocaust is one of the most striking political developments of the twentieth century. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently referred to it as a ‘miracle’. But how did this ‘miracle’ come about? Drawing upon sources from both sides of the Iron Curtain and of the Arab–Israeli conflict, Lorena De Vita traces the contradictions and dilemmas that shaped the making of German–Israeli relations at the outset of the global Cold War. Israelpolitik offers new insights not only into the history of German–Israeli relations, but also into the Cold War competition between the two German states, as each attempted to strengthen its position in the Middle East and the international arena while struggling with the legacy of the Nazi past.
From that year onwards, West German and Israeli football teams began exchanging expertise, with Israeli coaches travelling frequently to Cologne for training purposes. 5 The links between the German Trade Union Confederation (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund) and its Israeli counterpart, the Histradut, also grew closer. 6 But Shinnar maintained his focus on high politics for the time being, fixated on his goal of establishing diplomatic relations. The desire for a closer cooperation with the Federal Republic was something that DavidBen-Gurion seemed to be ‘possessed
MUP FINAL PROOF – <STAGE>, 08/19/2013, SPi
The formation of a discourse
The need for a discourse
In the autumn of 1948, while the eventful war was drawing to an end, DavidBen-Gurion, who led the organized Jewish community – the Yishuv – to what
has been described until recently in the media and history books as a miraculous victory, began his moves for the next stage. At the personal level, he had
to reaffirm his leadership through a popular vote. In the international arena,
he had to manoeuvre for international recognition of Israel without making
.), Deutschland und Israel: Solidarität in der Bewährung: Bilanz und Perspektive der deutsch-israelischen Beziehungen (Gerlingen: Bleicher, 1992); G. Lavy, Germany and Israel: Moral Debt and National Interest (London: Frank Cass, 1996); N. Hansen , Aus dem Schatten der Katastrophe. Die deutsch-israelischen Beziehungen in der Ära Adenauer und DavidBenGurion ( Düsseldorf : Droste , 2002 ); Y. A. Jelinek , Deutschland und Israel, 1945–1965. Ein neurotisches Verhältnis ( Munich : Oldenbourg , 2004 ); D. Trimbur , De la Shoah à la Réconciliation? La Question
favor, juggling ideology and geopolitics. Between the end of World War
II and the collapse of the Eastern bloc, the superpowers, fighting proxy
wars in Korea and Vietnam and contending over Berlin and Cuba,
calculated their national interests in the Middle East according to
bilateral global factors. For Israel, those factors determined the
nature of its relations with each of the superpowers.
of residents’, which was central
to the broader Zionist project.57 In support of this, a subcommittee was established,
focusing entirely upon industry in Jerusalem to facilitate its rebirth. For DavidBenGurion, the subcommittee was to facilitate a rise in ‘Jewish settlement in Jerusalem and
its environs, to rehabilitate and strengthen its economic basis, and to ensure that the
capital of our country will have a Jewish majority in population and building’.58
In spite of such demands, before the establishment of Israel in 1948 Jerusalem
became peripheral to the
Nasser’s increasing popularity in the region, of the spectre of Soviet penetration of the Middle East, and of a possible imminent reduction in the US armed forces stationed in Europe, it was easy for the Chancellor to understand why DavidBen-Gurion would justify the Sinai campaign as a pre-emptively defensive, rather than an offensive, act. 47 This, in turn, came close to putting the FRG onto a road to covert defiance of the United States, while the relationship between Adenauer and Ben-Gurion, and the West German and Israeli security establishments, grew ever closer
Attitudes towards subversive movements and violent organisations
surprising odds with the fact that in its struggle against political parties the inchoate Government of Israel suffered from a dearth of measures in its effort to protect itself from radical political manifestations, we find that in regard to (extra-parliamentary) extremist movements and violent uprisings Israel tended, even in its early days, to adopt highly rigorous forms of warfare against subversive groups. This approach is given prominence in the words of the first prime minister of Israel, DavidBen-Gurion, only a short time after the founding of the State
Ben-Gurion to ICAB, April 20, 1958;
‘Interview, May 16, 1958, with the Prime Minister of Israel,
Mr. DavidBen-Gurion, and 31 Members of the National War
College,’ Washington, D.C., ISA 7226/6a.
ICAB, April 27, 1958, ISA.