Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

International Affairs

Abstract

This thesis examines the continuation of the special relationship between Germany and Israel in the 21st century. The relationship has existed for nearly 60 years yet current politicians played no role in the crimes of Nazi Germany and it seems logical that they would not share the same motivating factors as earlier generations. In order to etermine the future of the relationship, the paper begins by defining a special relationship within the field of international affairs. This focuses on motivations including shared interests, common values and ideals, historical intimacy or intensity as well as the influence of “soft” and “hard” factors on a relationship. Qualitative historical accounts are first used to provide background on the creation and growth of the Israeli-German special relationship. Having established that the relationship does in fact exist, comparative case studies are examined to highlight factors that could potentially change or end the special relationship. This includes data on rising levels of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism across Germany and Europe, increasing differences between Germany and Israel on the appropriate use of force, and German politicians’ understanding of the special relationship within German identity and foreign policy. Having examined these influential factors, the power of “soft” factors in the continuation of the relationship is clear. German officials in the past have sacrificed strategic interests in favor of the alliance and have maintained the relationship with Israel as a vital piece of Germany’s identity and policy with no signs of alterations in the near future. The German public however, demonstrates increasing displeasure with continued associations to the nation’s Nazi past. More importantly, public opinion shows that Israel is increasingly viewed as committing crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing in the Occupied Territories, which has led to a decrease in support from the German people. Even with increasing German displeasure over Israeli use of force, the strength of the “soft” power of the Holocaust will allow the special relationship to continue into the 21st century.

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