Germany Is Walking a Tightrope on the Israel-Hamas War

Germany Is Walking a Tightrope on the Israel-Hamas War
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give a press conference, Jerusalem, Israel, March 17, 2024 (DPA photo by: Kay Nietfeld via AP Images).

“There is only one place for Germany at this time, and that is by Israel’s side,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared in the Bundestag shortly after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. “This is what we mean when we say: Israel’s security is part of Germany’s Staatsrason.

Since World War II, Germany’s duty to combat antisemitism and protect Israel has been a moral obligation shared across the country’s political spectrum. In evoking Israel’s security as a Staatsrason, or reason of state, Scholz further linked that historical legacy to Germany’s core interests.

The ruling Ampelkoalition—or traffic-light coalition, comprising Scholz’s Social Democrats, the Free Democrats and the Greens—has held firm in its steadfast support for Israel after the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust. Nevertheless, the ongoing military assault in Gaza in response to the Oct. 7 attack has alienated many of Israel’s most stalwart defenders in Germany. Cracks in the current consensus have begun to emerge, testing the balance between the obligations Germans’ feel to Israel due to the legacy of the Holocaust and their commitments to human rights and a multicultural society.

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