How do Israelis and Palestinians view Germany? Fifty years after Germany and Israel established diplomatic relations, a study by Germany's Konrad Adenauer Foundation makes some surprising discoveries.
Germany is popular with Israelis and Palestinians - that, in a nutshell, is the result of a study conducted among 1,000 people from each population in December 2014.
Almost 70 percent of the people polled in Israel had a good or excellent opinion of Germany, and the country ranked first as the most popular nation in Europe. Only 23 percent of the Israelis in the study saw Germans in a negative light.
The differences between religious and secular Israelis came as a surprise. The more religious the respondents, the more reserved they were about Germany and the Germans. Negative views were most prevalent among ultra-orthodox Jews, according to Mitchell Barack, who polled the Israeli side for Germany's Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
History and future
Memories of the Shoah still play a large role in the relationship between Germans and Israelis. Asked what came to their minds first when they thought of Germany, almost 400 of the 1,000 polled named the Holocaust: the German mass murder of Europe's Jews is a defining factor for most Israelis. But increasingly, common interests are also named as a link between the two countries. Fifty years after Israel and Germany established diplomatic relations, a third of the Israelis polled said German-Israeli ties were "warm", "very close" and "friendly."
For Israelis in particular, Germany is a popular travel destination. Israelis are very fond of traveling: two out of three said they could imagine visiting Germany, while almost half of those polled have already visited the country. Very few, however, would want to settle in Germany. Although the quality of life is regarded as vey high, only one out of three Israelis would be willing to leave Israel and work in Germany, according to the study.
Angela Merkel, superstar
Chancellor Angela Merkel is very popular in Israel; in fact, her popularity has increased significantly over the years. In 2007, one out of two Israelis took a positive view of the German Chancellor. In 2008, she held a speech in the Israeli Parliament that met with a great deal of praise. Now, Merkel's popularity has risen to 70 percent, according to the poll results.
Most Israelis give her credit for standing by Israel during difficult times, and for never letting Israelis doubt her support for the Jewish state; the German chancellor has time and again expressed her commitment to the existence of the state of Israel.
Merkel's standing is not as good in the Palestinian Territories. Only 37 percent of the Palestinians polled took a positive view of the German Chancellor, and 32 percent saw her in a negative light.
The German Chancellor addresses Israel's Knesset in 2008
Positive image in Gaza
Approval for Germany itself is not as high in the Palestinian Territories as it is in Israel, either.
All the same, about half the population there has a positive impression of Germany. Three out of four people questioned for the study said they wanted closer ties with the country.
Opinion in the Palestinian Territories varies, however, depending on the region. In the Gaza Strip, people have a particularly positive view of Germany: two thirds use German products, and interest in Germany and in particular Berlin is surprisingly avid in the closed-off region, says Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki. Many people have friends or relatives in the German capital, he adds, and read up on Germany in the media or on the internet. Sixty-three percent of the people polled in Gaza said they would like to visit Germany, compared to 43 percent in the West Bank. About half of the Palestinians in Gaza could imagine moving to Germany.
Sympathy for a special relationship
Most of the Palestinians participating in the poll understood that Israel and Germany have a special relationship founded on the events of history. More than half of the people interviewed were aware of Germany's support for Israel's right to existence, and they didn't question this stance; just as many were convinced that the German government also backed the Palestinian pursuit of a state of their own.
As far as most Palestinians are concerned, ties with Germany could be further expanded. More than 50 percent of those questioned said they would like to see ties with Germany advanced, ahead of those with France.