Ambassador Dr. Clemens von Goetze on German-Israeli relations and youth exchange

On May 12, 1965 West Germany and Israel established diplomatic relations. Down to the present day 14 German representatives have been sent to Israel to serve the state of Germany as ambassadors. Since July 2015 Dr. Clemens von Goetze is new to the office. We spoke with him about the past, present and future of German-Israeli relations and youth exchange.


Ambassador Dr. von Goetze, you have been the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Tel Aviv since July 2015, from your diplomatic perspective: what is special about German-Israeli relations? What makes them different from those between other countries?

First of all it is the history that makes it special. Germany is the country of perpetrators and Israel of victims of the Shoa. And it is very amazing that 70 years after the end of the Shoa and 50 years after establishing diplomatic relations we have reached these excellent relations between the countries. I think it is mainly due to the fact that the Israelis had the strength and generosity to stretch out their hand to us.

We are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations and even 60 years of youth exchange. How are these very different forms of interaction related?

It is not by chance that the youth exchange came before the diplomatic relations. The young people were the ones who wanted to bring future to our relations despite the very, very difficult past. And the past will never be forgotten, it will always be an essential part of our relations. But it is again the youngsters who will have to revive the relations for the next 50 years of diplomatic relations between our countries.

What can politics, can politicians learn from youth exchange?

Young people have a very good sense for the actual problems that are moving a society and it is always good when we know exactly what moves our societies and what young people – the future of our societies – are interested in, what their expectations for the future are.

Coming from the past, to the present to the future: where do you see the chances and challenges in German-Israeli relations today and tomorrow?

When we always remember the past and continue with our common efforts, for sure we will be able to develop our relations in the same positive way they have been moving forward up to now. Our relations have enormous potential for the young generation, not only in politics and business, but also in education, science and culture. Together, Germans and Israelis can achieve a lot and overcome challenges. Your youth conference with so many participants from both countries offers the chance to build a long lasting network for this endeavor.