Tuesday, 25 July 2006

German soldiers protecting Jews?

Posted By: Foreign and National Desk (Email) | July 25 2006 at 04:34 PM

From Matthew Kalman in Jerusalem

The idea is not so far-fetched now that an international peacekeeping force, including German troops, is being seriously discussed as part of the solution to the Israel-Hezbollah war.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who met with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday, said such an idea needed careful thought.

"The participation of Germany is a particularly sensitive discussion. The difficult common history between Germany and Israel always comes into it."

No kidding.

Karen Tsafrir, a wedding planner for Live Events Israel whose mother was hidden from the Nazis in Holland during World War II, was almost at a loss for words when asked what she thought.

"That's really uncanny, that's so odd. I'm not sure that I like that. Is it their guilt? What are they doing here?"

"Emotionally it's very difficult to accept the idea of having a German army on the borders of Israel," said Yair Amichai, a psychologist at Bar-Ilan University whose parents were born in Germany.

Amichai said he would be suspicious of German motives. "They say they care about the Jewish state and feel a special responsibility but they are heavily involved with deep financial interests in Iran and Syria, and it doesn't put them in a good position to be objective."

However, Nomi Roth-Elbert of Atzum, a group working in Israel with "righteous gentiles" who saved Jews from the Nazis, liked the idea. "We know that the new generation of Germans are trying to understand and be good friends of Israel," she said.

Karen Tsafrir's 17-year-old son Tal, who has visited Nazi death camps in Poland, felt completely the opposite.

"The idea is outrageous," he said.

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