chapter  10
Another Middle East War – enter the European Community
Pages 29

The changes in the relations between the Federal Republic and Israel in the late 1960s, as discussed in the last chapter, received a new impetus in the early 1970s partly as a result of Ostpolitik, partly because of other changes in the international political situation. The new West German policy regarding eastern Europe, initiated by Willy Brandt’s SPD/FDP government, had little effect in itself; what caused a change was the further independence and self-assurance gained by the Federal Republic as a result of being able to shed the burden of the Cold War, which had persisted between it and the Soviet Bloc for several years after the global Cold War had diminished. For the first time since the founding of the Federal Republic in 1949 there existed a degree of amity and co-operation in West German relations with eastern Europe, resulting in a greater feeling of security. Not unnaturally, this greater self-assurance also rubbed off on the West German population. While there was continuing sympathy for Israel, there was also increasing impatience with the role of the eternal penitent whose atonement must continue indefinitely. The new, more self-confident attitude of the Federal Republic at a political level showed itself in its relations with all its western allies, especially the USA, where it led to disagreements. As far as Israel was concerned, the Brandt government, while still supporting the Israelis in matters which were essential to their well-being and security, was no longer prepared to allow itself to be hindered in its freedom of action in foreign policy to suit Israeli interests, as had been the case in the 1950s and 1960s. One reason why the Federal Government saw this as important was that it was trying to re-establish good relations with the Arab countries after a number of them had broken off diplomatic ties following the crisis of 1965. All this caused resentment in Israel where it was felt that the Germans were reneging on their moral debt to the Jewish State and people.