BERLIN — Fewer than half of Germans recently polled believe Iran poses the graver danger in the current tensions between Iran and Israel.
In a survey carried out by the Infratest/Dimap polling firm for Die Welt am Sonntag newspaper, 1,000 citizens of voting age were interviewed on April 17 and 18.
The results stand in contrast to a European Commission flash survey in 2003, according to which most Europeans felt Israel posed the biggest threat to world peace, with Iran in second place.
They also fly in the face of a recent controversial poetic essay by German Nobel Prize-winning author Gunter Grass, who raised a tempest by blaming Israel for the current tensions and criticizing the German government for its subsidized sale of submarines to the Jewish state.
According to the survey on the Infratest/Dimap website, 58 per cent of Germans see Iran’s nuclear ambitions as an existential threat to Israel, while 48 per cent see Iran as the greater threat of the two countries.
Only 22 per cent said the two countries are equally threatening, while 18 per cent said that Israel was the more dangerous of the two. The latter group included supporters of the Left Party, which is the most critical of Israel of all the mainstream German political parties. Supporters of all the other mainstream parties pointed the finger at Iran.
The survey also found that Germans in general believe there is no taboo against criticizing Israel.
“Some suggest that one is not permitted to say certain things about Israel and the Jews in Germany,” one survey question began. “Others say that in Germany, Israel and its policies can be criticized just as those of any other country. With which of these views do you agree?”
In response, 75 per cent said Israeli policies were just as open to criticism as those of any other country. Again, the Left Party differed from the rest: only 46 percent believed that there is no taboo against criticism of Israel in Germany.
The Left Party has come in for serious criticism over its Israel policies in recent years. In May 2010, three Left Party parliamentarians were aboard the ill-fated Mavi Marmara flotilla boat that attempted to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.