AJC Calls on German President to Clarify Stance on Israel
BERLIN, May 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — AJC applauds German President Joachim Gauck’s strong reaffirmation of German-Jewish relations, but is concerned by his remarks on Israel’s security situation.
During his current visit to Israel, Gauck thanked President Shimon Peres for the “immeasurable generosity of the gift of trust” that Israel has granted to the Federal Republic of Germany. The German president made an emotional visit to Yad Vashem, honoring the lives of victims and of rescuers, and also met with survivors of the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.
However, while emphasizing Germany’s commitment to Israel’s security, Gauck declined to express support for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s position that the defense of Israel is “Staatsrason” (raison d’etre) for Germany. Gauck said that this position could cause the Chancellor “enormous difficulties” regarding Germany’s response to a crisis situation.
AJC called for further clarification of President Gauck’s positions on German support for Israel.
“Recent polls show an increasingly negative climate toward Israel in Germany,” said Deidre Berger, Director of AJC Berlin.
“The timing of President Gauck’s visit is of particular importance, given the threat to Israel of Iran’s secret nuclear program,” said Berger. “We urge President Gauck to clarify that his statements do not indicate a shift by the German government in its position on Israel. We are concerned the comments, without reaffirming the position of the German Chancellor, will have a further negative impact in Germany on support for Israel.”
Upon receiving AJC’s “Light Unto the Nations” award in 2011, Chancellor Merkel pledged that the award would be a daily reminder for Germany to do everything possible to help “the people in Israel to live in a secure Jewish state, with secure borders and freedom.”
Gauck said during his visit that he hopes Israel and an independent Palestinian state will coexist peacefully in recognized borders. However, in discussions with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermann, Gauck criticized Israeli settlement policy. Following his trip to Israel, he plans to visit Palestinian officials in Ramallah.
“It is important to avoid conflation of the Mideast conflict with German-Israeli and German-Jewish relations,” said Berger. “There has never been a more critical moment for German support for Israel, given the enormous political unrest in the Mideast, and we hope this important first visit by President Gauck will strengthen the German-Israeli partnership.”
SOURCE American Jewish Committee