East Germany’s Assault on Israel

My essay, “East Germany’s Assault on Israel” is published in the current June, 2016 issue of Commentary Magazine in the United States. It draws on my recently published book, Undeclared Wars with Israel: East Germany and the West German Far Left, 1967-1989 (Cambridge University Press, May 2016).

“After the Holocaust, an implicit if rarely stated 11th commandment prevailed in West German politics: Do not kill or harm any more Jews and do not help anyone else to kill or harm any more Jews, including the citizens of the state of Israel. This was a moral minimum and proved uncomfortably compatible with certain disturbing aspects of the behavior of the West German government, like the premature amnesty granted to ex-Nazi officials and many years of public silence about the crimes of the very recent past. Still, no West German government brought harm to Jews, either at home or in Israel.

East Germany was a different story. It too had been part of the Third Reich, and its people and leaders were as morally shadowed by the evils perpetrated in their land as anyone in the West. But it was hostile to the state of Israel from the time of its founding in 1949 to its own demise in 1989. And now, we know that hostility was matched by behavior that systematically sought to injure Jews, the Jewish people, and the Jewish state…”

The link to the whole article is here: https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/east-germanys-assault-israel/

About the Author
Jeffrey Herf is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of History at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA. He is completing a study entitled “At War with Israel: East Germany and the West German Radical Left, 1967-1989.