Controversy as German Company Backs out of Israel Project

German national railways backs out of Israel train line project following pressure from left. Holocaust survivors critical.

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Maayana Miskin, | updated: 13:20

Israel railway (illustrative)
Israel railway (illustrative)
Flash 90

German national railway company Deutche Bahn has backed out of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway project over concerns that the train line will pass through areas east of the 1949 armistice line. The company faces pressure from the left-wing groups in Germany, Israel and the Arab world, led by the Israeli feminist group Coalition of Women for Peace.

Noah Peleg, head of the Center of Holocaust Survivors Organization in Israel, was critical of the decision. In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Peleg said the company “wants to be more Christian than the Pope, and it's a bit strange.”

Deutche Bahn was the company that brought Jews to Auschwitz, he said. “I personally was taken to Auschwitz on one of the company's trains... Deutche Bahn was the company that brought Jews from all over Europe to the death camps.”

The company has made a small effort to make amends in recent years, but for the most part, continues to deny responsibility. “They say it isn't the same company, that they have new management and new members and are not responsible for what happened 70 years ago,” he said. However, he noted, the company recently donated 5 million euros to Holocaust survivors.

Overall, Germany is friendly to Israel, said Peleg. However, he said, several individual companies remain aligned with Israel's enemies, and some continue to trade with Iran and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, despite the latter's threat to wipe Israel from the map.

Deutche Bahn had been in charge of electricity and communications control on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem line. However, the company decided that the project was “problematic” because it crosses the armistice line at two points, once near Latrun and once near Beit Surik.

Israel Railway is looking for a substitute company for the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem line, which it is hoped will reduce commuting time between the two cities by nearly half an hour. Deutche Bahn will remain involved in other Israel projects.