Germany is Europe’s largest economy, most populous nation and an influential voice in European institutions. An important global player, it boasts the fourth largest economy in the world. The country has significant influence over Israel’s relations with Europe, advocates for growing economic and scientific ties, and has sponsored several key agreements between the EU and Israel.
Germany is traditionally regarded as Israel’s second most important strategic ally after the United States. With total bilateral trade amounting to $13.9 billion in 2019, Germany is Israel’s largest trade partner in Europe. Both countries share important strategic interests in the Middle East, including combating terrorism and extremism, while promoting regional stability and peace. Germany supports various Israeli defense projects and plays a key role vis-a-vis Iran. The German government led efforts to place Hezbollah’s military wing on the EU’s list of designated terrorist organizations.
Israel’s security and well-being have been a fundamental pillar of German post-war foreign policy. Chancellor Angela Merkel characterized Germany’s support for Israel’s right to exist to its raison d’état. The painful history of relations between the Jewish people and Germany continues to have a profound impact on political ties between Israel and Germany. But German sympathy for Israel is eroding, as the generation after the Holocaust is succeeded by grandchildren and great-grandchildren for whom the past is less immediate. It is one of the great challenges to maintain the high level of bilateral relations and to keep Israel on top of the Ger-man political agenda. Moreover, it is paramount for both countries to find out how much they actually have in common, the interests and values they share, that go far beyond the well-known ties of history.
ELNET in Germany
ELNET was established in Berlin in 2014 and is an independent non-profit organiza-tion. It facilitates closer relations between Germany and Israel on the basis of shared democratic interests and values. Together with its affiliates in Israel, France, Poland and Belgium, ELNET-Germany fosters the ties between European and Israeli decision makers and builds a network with its dialogue programs and delegations.
ELNET-Germany and ELNET-France held the latest edition of the Strasbourg Forum, which meets periodically to discuss key strategic issue.
ELNET-Germany publishes a new briefing by ELNET-Germany Fellow Prof. Dr. Shlomo Shpiro which sheds light on the cooperation between Israel and NATO, analyzes potential areas for deepening cooperation, and summarizes key lessons learned from previous military engagements.
ELNET-Germany launches a nation-wide campaign to fight antisemitism. The campaign seeks to educate about Jewish life in Germany and Israel in a humorous way. The campaign’s purpose is to reduce prejudices, impart knowledge about Jewish life, and create space for open dialogue in German society.
ELNET surveyed parliamentarians across Europe on their perspectives on their respective relations with Israel and their own Middle East policies, as well as on Jewish life in Europe. The results show that most of parliamentarians would like to see closer cooperation with Israel, with Defense and homeland security being key issues.