Germans have become increasingly hostile to the state of Israel in recent years, with 59 percent describing the country as “aggressive,” according to a new poll published in the national Sternmagazine on Wednesday.
The figures emerged as President Joachim Gauck prepares for an official state visit to Israel, from May 28-31, and in the midst of a recent wave of anti-Israel incidents across the country.
The figures showed a sharp rise from the 49% of Germans who replied to a similar poll three years earlier.
Furthermore, 70% of those polled answered that, “Israel pursues its own interest without consideration for other nations.”
Earlier this month, a group of suspected neo-Nazis attacked a booth distributing pro-Israel material in the west German city of Siegen, injuring two women and a man.
“The boundaries between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel are shrinking rapidly. In Germany, this is becoming apparent,” said Shacha Stawski, the chairman of the pro-Israel initiative "I Like Israel," which had sponsored the booth.
German intelligence chief Heinz Fromm also claimed in an interview with German newspaper Bild on Tuesday that “the danger for (Jews in) Germany has not decreased."
Fromm raised concerns regarding the possibility of further anti-Semitic attacks in the country, due to increasing tension between extremist Salafist muslims and police forces.
“With their intensive propaganda over the internet, in the streets, in mosques and also at so-called Islam seminars, Salafist preachers are reaching especially young people who are more sensitive to this ideology,” he said.
He continued to state that, “almost all Islamist terrorists from Germany have been radicalised in this way”.
German novelist Gunter Grass sparked outrage last month, when he published a poem titled, “What Must Be Said,” in which he claimed that Israel, not Iran, is the biggest threat to world peace.
Although his statements were widely criticized by German politicians and Israeli officials, a number of commentators suggested that his views might gain increased recognition and acceptance from the German public.
Former German central banker Thilo Sarrazin also stirred controversy when he claimed in his new book that Germany has allowed itself to become the eurozone’s “hostage” as penitence for the Holocaust. The extreme-right National Democrat Party congratulated Sarrazin for “saying openly what most Germans think”.