With Mideast failed and failing states depositing ever greater numbers of refugees at Europe’s doorstep, the distance between Europe and Israel seems to shrink by the week .
Most of the refugees have headed for Germany and the government is reeling from the political impact of more than a million newcomers in a short space of time with no end to the influx in sight. At recent German-Israeli cabinet consultations in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that boundaries between Israel and Germany are merging more and more in the common fight against terror.
Suddenly, it is all about security. Europe’s refugee crisis has put German-Israeli relations in a new perspective. Fighting Islamic extremism, strengthening Jordan and Egypt, stabilizing the refugee situation in the Mideast, dealing with regional powers Iran and Saudi Arabia and much more have become topics of greater urgency than disagreements about settlements and the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Chancellor Merkel gave a sober assessment of the Palestinian situation, noting that at a time when the Mideast order is dissolving, it is not the moment to strive for a peace treaty between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Israel is the fortress of European values in the Mideast, Prime Minister Netanyahu said during his stay in Berlin, helping defend common values. Without Israel, Europe's problems would be far greater, he noted. Indeed the refugee crisis has helped redefine priorities in German-Israeli relations. Terror and Islamic extremism are no longer the preserve of Israel but common challenges for the West and for Israel, which is the most eastern of our western outposts. Peace in the Middle East can only happen with Israel, not against Israel. Meanwhile, Germany and Israel are finding ever new ways to cooperate and intensify their exchange, as demonstrated in a multitude of agreements signed during the recent German-Israeli consultations. More and more, Germans and Israelis are looking ahead, not behind, in their relations.
Picture: Embassy of Israel in Germany.