The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Debate over the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations with Germany 1953-1955
This study discusses at length the vacillations of Israeli diplomats and mainly the Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett regarding political relations with West Germany in the years immediately following the reparations accord. It analyzes Sharett’s reasons for consistently opposing a rapid transition from the low-level reparations ties to full-scale diplomatic relations and explains why he changed his mind towards the end of 1955. While previous studies have emphasized the clash between Israeli public opinion and Foreign Ministry professionals, the present article comprises a different and more complex tableau of Israeli diplomats’ attitudes toward Germany between 1953 and 1955. Its focal argument is that the postponement of diplomatic relations with Germany was influenced not only by the possibility of negative Israeli public opinion but also by the Foreign Ministry assessment of Germany’s political standing. The discussions and the views expressed by the Israeli diplomats concerned included not only practical diplomatic questions but also Israel’s need never to forget the Holocaust and skepticism of the West German state’s motives and attitudes toward Jews, Israel, and the Arab states.