Germany’s newly elected President, Joachim Gauck, is off on a four-day state-visit to Israel today. At a time when German public opinion of Israel is increasingly negative, the purpose of Gauck’s visit is to “demonstrate German solidarity and support for the Jewish State.”
I expect that Angela Merkel will have briefed Gauck and given him her view about Netanyahu, who is considered by world politicians to be a liar. I imagine that the German Embassy in Tel Aviv will have similarly painted a bleak picture of the deterioration of Israel into a country run by extremists. If he will meet representatives of German NGOs, they may well tell him of the harsh and hopeless reality of life for Palestinians under Israeli rule.
Gauck’s Israeli hosts, however, will doubtlessly remind him of Germany’s special responsibility to support Israel because of the Holocaust. They will warn about increased anti-Semitism in Europe. Netanyahu will paint Iran as a threat comparable to Hitler and his hosts may also try to engage him in the debate over Günter Grass’ recent “poetical” attack.
Will Gauck be allowed to tell his Israeli hosts what most Germans think of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank? Will he tell the Israeli people that Germany supports Israel’s right to exist but cannot and will not support Israel’s hold on the Occupied territories? Will Gauck tell Israel that unless Israel gets out of these Territories, Europe including Germany, will cease supporting Israel altogether?
He should, but he probably won’t.