Distinguished President of Germany Joachim Gauck,
Distinguished Chancellor of Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel,
Distinguished President of the German Bundestag Professor Norbert Lammert,
I was very much impressed by the attention that you and the Bundestag members paid to the speech delivered by a well-known writer Daniil Granin the 27th of January. I noticed that some people in the audience were crying. I estimate very high the Germany’s attitude toward the Leningrad siege. However, much more I am impressed by the uncompromised rejection of the Nazis’ anti-Jewishness and aggressiveness that took place in Germany after WWII. As one of the results, the Jewish community was rebuilded to some extend in your country, where my granddaughter currently resides.
I visited East Germany in 1984 and remember walking in Berlin and thinking what would happen to me if Nazis were still in power. I must confess that it was psychologically not easy for me and my wife to go to Germany when I was awarded in 1990 the von Humboldt price: we are Jews, I was under the Leningrad siege, and her elderly grandparents were shot to death by invading soldiers in 1941. However, we understood that while we cannot forget, we have to forgive and live with tomorrow but not with yesterday.
Being invited in 1991, with many others, to a reception by the President of Germany Richard von Weizsacker, I had a chance to speak for a while to him and his wife. I was so impressed by this event that wrote him a letter describing how in my mind the equality «German=enemy» transforms into another one, namely «German=friend». I emphasized the very important contribution made by German leadership to make this change possible. Immediately I received a very emotional and impressive response that expressed deep understanding of my feelings. Since then I had chances to meet a number of German scientists and officials, including ambassadors to Russia and Israel, speak to them, and felt the permanent interest and support to ideas of cooperation and desire to promote good relations with both Russia and Israel.
The pro-Israeli orientation of Germany is valued very high here in Israel, the state that was established on ancient Jewish land and absorbed a big part of the Holocaust survivals. Any support, moral and material, is extraordinary important for this country that after its proclamation almost 66 years ago is under permanent attack of the whole, almost without any exception, huge Arab and Muslim world. The wars started by Arabs-neighbors ended with their defeat. However, contrary to Germany, they never accepted the sad reality of the defeat. Instead, they continued the fight. During the inter-war periods Israel became a victim of countless terrorists’ attacks that as a strategy to destroy the country also failed. Now they resort to international boycott or a siege that nominally targets settlers but aims the whole Israel by making her borders indefensible.
Giving this I was shocked while reading recently in a reliable source the following: «The German government is conditioning continued grants to Israeli high-tech companies, as well as the renewal of a scientific cooperation agreement, on the inclusion of a territorial clause stating that Israeli entities located in West Bank settlements or East Jerusalem will not be eligible for funding».
If this is correct it means that Germany as a country is joining the boycott movement that protest «occupation» by Jews Judea and Samaria and claims that building settlements violates international law. You know better than I that both arguments are false. But the consequences look quite seriously: the goods produced outside the so-called Green line should be specially labeled and boycotted leading to destruction of corresponding businesses. I start to think that the next step could be the labeling of those who own these businesses.
This returns my memory to the most terrible days of the 20th century, almost eighty years back in time, when Jewish businesses were destroyed and their owners labeled. We all know quite well what happened later and what led descendants of victims, their murderers, and those standing aside to declare: «This should not happen again!»
I see deep analogy between the Leningrad siege and situation with Israel. The country is surrounded by hostile countries; which are threatening the very existence of the state. The only open way is by see; the smallest retreat can have fatal consequences. Of course, Israelis are very far from hunger, but not because of good will of her neighbors but because of the people strong desire to survive and achieve success. In my eyes it is a deep similarity between forcing Leningrad to surrender by hunger and destroying Israel by boycott and endless demands of «good will gestures» to terrorists.
One can say that analogy is not a proof and the civilized world in fact protests against occupation and oppression. This view is disproved by the fact that the living standards, level of education and longevity of Arabs residing both inside and outside the Green line is much higher than that of their brethren in the neighboring Arab countries.
I see that the siege jeopardize Israel as a state. However, the destruction of Israel would be disastrous not only for Jews, but inevitably also for local Arabs. Needless to say that Israel will not surrender even if in the siege many countries will participate – her people simply have no option to surrender and at the same time to survive. And therefore I ask you, why wait 70 years or so when descendants will have to express their regret for doings of their ancestors? Why not to give them a clean past and leave them their own problems to solve?
Sincerely yours, Miron Ya Amusia,
Principal scientist of the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia
Emeritus professor of physics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel,
Doctor of physics and mathematics,
Veteran of WWII
Prof. M. Ya. Amusia
Racah Institute of Physics