German Chancellor Angela Merkel just wrapped up a two day visit to Israel.
Germany's head of state did not make the trip alone, she brought along her entire cabinet and a slew of business leaders.Throughout the trip local Israeli and German press coverage emphasized the divisions between Germany and Israel.
They focused on differences in diplomatic policy between the two countries, specifically centering on the Iranian nuclear agreement and the Palestinians.
Germany is still hanging on to the Iranian nuke deal and has taken the lead within the European Union (EU) in protecting investors that continue to deal with Iran from punishment by the United States.
The Israeli take on the nuclear agreement has never waivered from its original, emphatic, 'no deal, no way' stance. Vis-a-vis the Palestinians, Germany is pushing for a peace deal while Israel bides their time insisting that Palestinian leadership is not ready and has pushed back all advances and refused to come to the table.
One might think the relationship was at risk. It is not.Germany and Israel are very close friends. That is first and foremost. Germany is one of the strongest economies in the world and, outside of the United States, they are one of Israel's most important trading partners.
Their relationship is mutual. Israel provides Germany with essential goods and services, especially in the high tech and bio tech world and in the world of security and safety.
Germany provides Israel with several essential weapons, most notably the entire Israeli submarine fleet in which many weapons and defenses are top secret.
On issues of international affairs countries agree todisagree. It happens all the time, even with the best of friends. It is even happening now between the Trump and Netanyahu administrations.
Current issues of contention between Germany and Israel are classic issues of dispute in today's diplomatic arena. To give them more weight or credence is to misunderstand both the art of diplomacy and global history. On both Iran and the Palestinians, Israel echoes the Trump administration's point of view.
This is critical because the dialogue that took place about Iran and about Palestinian intransigence was actually conducted as a virtual mini US / EU summit.
The U.S. was represented by Israel and Germany represented the European Union.During a press conference she held with Israeli President Reuven "Ruby" Rivlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel underscored that, "[O]n the basic statement that everything must be done to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, we are in agreement.
"The issue on which we have different views is whether the agreement reached with Iran is the way, for a limited time, to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons."
In his response the Israeli president said, "This is the time to join the sanctions on Iran, not go around them. The Iranian monster should be starved, not fed,"Rivlin continued on, "This is the only condition to maintaining stability in the region. We ask Germany to stand beside us in the demand for supervision on Iran's nuclear program, and to not allow it to evade its commitments."
Merkel then responded, "we want to prevent Iran from using nuclear weapons. The question is in what way: should we continue with the agreement or build on the sanctions? We're working towards the same goal — to stop the Iranian nuclear program."
Both Germany and Israel agree on the objective, it is the method on which they disagree. That seems to be the real issue at stake — and it is not a disagreement which can or will rattle the strong bond that has been forged, with blood, sweat and tears, between these two nations.
After the Holocaust, the State of Israel, the Jewish nation, was created.
Israel declared statehood in 1948 and almost immediately after the newly-democratic Germany, forged from the rubble of World War II emerged and assumed responsibility for their actions as a nation and for the actions of their parents.
Germans — the people of Germany and the nation of Germany — admitted that theirs was a society that committed the most atrocious murder in history.
Germany reached out to Israel and a very important relationship emerged. It was a relationship that included paying billions of dollars in reparations to Holocaust survivors.
It was a relationship that included favored trade deals which helped Israel develop their own economy.That relationship continues on and, as painful as it still is, Germans today fully admit and recognize that their grandparents perpetrated the Holocaust.
It is part of their national psyche and very much a part of the fuel which engines the relationship between Israel and Germany.In the late 1940's, when Israel accepted German reparations, a massive debate ensued among Israelis.
The country was wrenched over the question of should Israel take the money and should Israel accept the hand of Germany in friendship so soon after the murder of 6 million Jews.
It was courageous of post-World War II Germany to reach out to Israel, it was wise of Israel to accept Germany's hand in friendship. Like all good friendships there are sometimes disagreements.
The disagreements we witnessed this week are insignificant. Pay them no mind. We see it with the U.S. and Israel all the time — so, too, with the U.S. and Germany.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.
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