German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

Israel-Palestine war: Germany’s march to illiberalism in the name of defending Israel

Published on 06 Nov 2023

This article first appeared in The Middle East Eye on November 6, 2023 and was written by Bridge Initiative Senior Researcher Farid Hafez

Germany’s stance towards the war in Gaza is clear: “In such difficult times, there is only one place we can be: at Israel’s side,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said during a recent visit to the country.

But rather than situating this support in the context of the current conflict, Scholz has pointed to the historical legacy of Germany’s Nazi regime, which killed six million Jews. In a special address to the nation, he declared: “Our own history, our responsibility deriving from the Holocaust, makes it our permanent duty to stand up for the existence and security of the state of Israel. This responsibility guides us.”

Going further, he framed German demonstrations against the Israeli army’s assault on Gaza as a celebration of acts of terrorism that gave “free rein to [protesters’] hatred of Israel and of our Jewish fellow citizens”, thus conflating antisemitism with a critique of the Israeli government. But does remembering the past conceal the ability to see the present? While the German vice-chancellor vowed that “Jews must be able to live freely and safely”, the recent rise of anti-Muslim racism is ignored.

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