Tuesday, 25 July 2006

Israelis balk at German troops

Originally published on July 25, 2006


JERUSALEM - Many Israelis were appalled yesterday at the idea that German troops might join a new peacekeeping force on Israel's border.

The possibility of German troops guarding Israelis quickly revived memories of the Holocaust.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has called for a strong European buffer force rather than the UN, which has proved useless against Hezbollah.

Germany has suggested it might be willing to contribute soldiers to such a peacekeeping operation.

Karen Tsafrir, a wedding planner for Live Events Israel, said she was shocked by the suggestion.

"That's really uncanny; that's so odd. I'm not sure that I like that. Is it their guilt?" she asked.

And her 17-year-old son, Tal, who has visited Nazi death camps in Poland, was even more opposed.

"The idea is outrageous," he said.

Yair Amichai, a psychologist at Bar-Ilan University whose parents were born in Germany, was skeptical of having German troops protecting the Jewish state.

"Emotionally, it's very difficult to accept the idea of having a German army on the borders of Israel because Germany has a very hypocritical policy. 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," he said.

But Nomi Roth-Elbert of Atzum, a group working in Israel with gentiles who saved Jews from the Nazis, applauded the plan.

"We know that the new generation of Germans is trying to understand and be good friends of Israel," she said.

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