German public opinion of Israel is slumping ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit there. There is growing public and political disillusionment over Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian neighbors.
Merkel and her 15 cabinet ministers will participate in the largest-ever bilateral consultations on Monday and will kick off official preparations for next year’s celebrations commemorating 50 years since diplomatic relations between the two countries were established.
However, the visit has been overshadowed by reports of the worst crisis in diplomatic ties since Merkel took office almost 10 years ago. A recent BBC poll showed that only 14 percent of Germans today had a positive view of Israel.
“I think German public opinion is actually worse than what’s shown in the polls because Germans don’t publicly state their opinion, they play it down,” said Israel’s former ambassador to Germany and the European Union, Avi Primor. Continue reading
You’re not only looking at the de facto leader of Europe, which still most people don’t realize it for what it is, but you’re also looking at the next potential world leader. Critics can laugh at the notion, but when one is ahead of the curve, today’s jokes are tomorrow’s reality.
Berlin does not feel like an imperial city. The new government buildings – the chancellor’s office, the Bundestag and the foreign ministry – have all been designed with plenty of glass and natural light, to emphasise transparency and democracy. The finance ministry is, admittedly, housed in the old headquarters of the Luftwaffe. But most of the grandest architecture – Unter den Linden and the Brandenburg gate – is a legacy of the Prussian kings. Modern Berlin presents a more welcoming face, and has become a magnet for tourists and teenagers.
Yet while the German capital has deliberately eschewed the trappings of imperial power, the fact is that Berlin is increasingly the de facto capital of the EU. Of course the EU’s main institutions – the commission and the council – are still based in Brussels. But the key decisions are increasingly made in Berlin. Continue reading