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Study says Germans have skeptical view of Israel, a majority want to put past behind them

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BERLIN — Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, some 58 percent of Germans say the past should be consigned to history, while three-quarters of Israelis reject the idea of putting the past behind them.

Some 48 percent of Germans also say their opinion of today's Israel is poor and the Germans' view of the Israeli government is even worse, with 62 percent expressing a negative opinion.

Israelis have a much better view of today's Germany, with 68 percent saying they have a positive image of the country, while only 24 percent have a poor opinion.

The figures are the results of a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation released Monday. The foundation questioned 1,000 Germans and 1,001 Israelis for the poll; the margin of error was 3 percent.

According to the study, the perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has an increasingly dominant impact on the way Germans view Israel as a whole.

Some 35 percent of Germans equate Israeli policies toward the Palestinians with Nazi policies toward the Jews, an increase from 30 percent in 2007, when the foundation conducted a similar study.

Nonetheless, a majority of both Israelis and Germans believe that Germany still has a special responsibility toward Israel because of its history.

During the Third Reich, the Germans killed 6 million European Jews in the Holocaust, many of them at the Auschwitz death camp.

"In Germany the persecution of Jews is viewed as a dark chapter in German history, but not as an essential part of its identity; quite the opposite, Germans would prefer it as an anomaly," the authors of the study wrote in an analysis of their findings.


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