Cooperation between Israel and Germany is growing, especially in technology and the military. As this relationship grows, the question remains: How much should Israel trust Germany?
On November 11, Germany delivered its first Sa’ar 6 corvette warship to Israel. Another three are scheduled to arrive next year. Built by German giant ThyssenKrupp, the Sa’ar 6 is one of the world’s most advanced warships. It is designed to offer enhanced attack capabilities, including the ability to shoot down large numbers of missiles, a challenge Israel expects in the event of another war with Hezbollah. Israel plans to use the new warships to defend its offshore gas platforms from Hezbollah’s large and growing arsenal of guided missiles.
Germany and Israel aren’t just collaborating on warships. Germany’s Type 214 submarine is one of the world’s stealthiest, and it will get even stealthier with help from an Israeli company. In an October 27 press release, Israel Aerospace Industries stated that its subsidiary, Elta Systems, which makes electronic sensors for military equipment, will team up with Hensoldt, a German company with similar capabilities.
The two companies will work together on the development of a new periscope unit—one that combines multiple communications and sensor masts into one compact unit. This decreases the submarine’s radar cross-section when surfaced, making it easier for the sub to communicate and find targets while reducing the risk of being discovered.
Germany and Israel are cooperating more than ever. Again, is this a good idea for Israel?
Risk vs. Reward
While collaboration can obviously provide many advantages, it also comes with risks, especially when two nations share military technology. For Germany, working with a nation like Israel— with its world-class research and development and sophisticated technology sector— could prove extremely productive.
Consider drone technology. Israel is arguably the world’s most advanced drone developer. It’s drone technology is used worldwide, by private citizens, governments and militaries. Over the last decade, Germany in particular has benefited from Israel’s expertise in this field.
Since March 2010, Germany has operated Israel’s Heron 1 drone in Afghanistan. In March, Berlin extended its Heron 1 program for another year. Meanwhile, Germany’s Heron 1 program in Mali will continue till July 2022. Germany has also already received the Heron-TP, a more sophisticated version of Heron 1. Under this nine-year agreement, Israel leases powerful drones to Germany and provides training, operational support and maintenance.
Germany’s deal to lease the Heron 1 has given it access to vital knowledge and experience that it can use as it develops, together with France, Europe’s Eurodrone program. In this way, Israel is helping Europe develop its own military drones.
Germany’s cooperation with Israel extends beyond sharing knowledge and expertise. Today it even includes on-the-ground military training and exercises. For example, every two years, German and Israeli air forces train together in the “Blue Flag” exercises. These began in 2017, when German fighter jets landed in Israel for the first time.
The military partnership strengthened in 2019, when 70 aircraft from Israel, the United States, Greece, Germany and Italy participated in the second “Blue Flag” exercises. Approximately 250 airmen from the Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany deployed to Uvda Air Force Base just north of Eilat for the exercise. But unlike typical joint maneuvers, German and Israeli troops were manning each other’s equipment. “We started doing a squadron exchange,” said German Air Force Lt. Col. Manuel Last at the time. “We flew with the Israeli Air Force. One of our pilots flew in an Israeli F-16 and we took one of their pilots in our Eurofighter. It was kind of emotional; it was a great experience. And I really honor the professionalism of the Israeli Air Force.”
Building on that trust, earlier this year Israeli fighter jets landed in Germany for the first time. Along with over 100 servicemen, the aircraft participated in the first-ever exclusive German–Israeli military war games, practicing maneuvers and joint missions with the Luftwaffe. The “Blue Wings 2020” war games were the culmination of years of warming ties between the two air forces. The event also held symbolic importance for the Israeli pilots, many of whom were grandchildren of Holocaust victims.
A Question of Trust
Since the Holocaust, the issue of German-Israeli cooperation has been sensitive and emotionally charged. But in recent years the collaboration has been hailed as a sign of a strong, mutually beneficial relationship.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has led in this effort. In her unprecedented Knesset speech in 2008, the chancellor spoke of German shame for the Holocaust. She affirmed that “we want to strengthen these ties and the trust between our peoples even further. We want to consolidate our partnership even further. … Germany’s special historical responsibility for Israel’s security … is part of my country’s raison d’être. For me as German chancellor, therefore, Israel’s security will never be open to negotiation.”
Merkel has backed up her words with arms deals and increasing military integration. In 2015, when Israel ordered the Sa’ar 6 warships, Merkel stated that “Germany has a special obligation to support Israel.” On November 11, Germany’s Die Welt newspaper framed the completion of the sale of the Sa’ar warships in the context of Merkel’s 2008 Knesset speech, saying, “Now Germany’s responsibility for the Jewish state is becoming visible.”
Merkel concluded her speech, “Germany will never forsake Israel but will remain a true friend and partner.”
Twelve years have passed since Merkel uttered these words, and the German-Israeli relationship appears to be thriving. But the question remains: Can Israel be certain that Germany will remain a true friend? Angela Merkel’s overtures toward supporting Israel seem sincere, but what about the German people?
Germany today is expanding its military presence and capability, not renouncing it. In recent years, many world leaders and policy analysts have encouraged Germany to rearm. Few are concerned about German militarism. And while anti-Semitism remains a problem in Germany, most people are unconcerned. (For more information, read “The One Minority Society Loves to Hate”) The prospect of conflict between these modern, democratic nations seems like a fantasy.
However, the Bible says a close relationship with Germany is a direct precursor to war. For more than 30 years, Watch Jerusalem editor in chief Gerald Flurry has warned that Israel should beware getting too comfortable with Germany. In his booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy, Mr. Flurry writes, “The friendship between Germany and Israel will lead to one of the biggest double crosses in the history of man!”
This forecast is rooted in Bible prophecy. Biblical prophecies refer to the modern Jewish state by its ancient name, Judah. Meanwhile, the modern nation of Germany is called by its biblical name, Assyria. (For an explanation, read “The Remarkable Identity of the German People”)
An end-time prophecy in Ezekiel 23 shows that Judah will look to Assyria as an ally instead of God. When this prophecy was written, the kingdom of Israel had already gone into captivity. In 586 b.c.e., Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians, not Assyria. This means Ezekiel 23 is clearly a prophecy for the end time. In verse 11, Judah is personified as a woman named Oholibah who plays the harlot with the Assyrians. Instead of relying on God for protection, Oholibah turns to the warriors of Assyria.
Verse 12 states, “She doted upon the Assyrians, governors and rulers, warriors, clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them handsome young men.” But this relationship ends in ruin. “Therefore, O Oholibah, thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy soul is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side …. And they shall come against thee with hosts, chariots, and wheels, and with an assembly of peoples; they shall set themselves in array against thee with buckler and shield and helmet round about …” (verses 22-24).
This is describing what Mr. Flurry says is “one of the biggest double crosses in the history of man!” Ezekiel 23 shows that Germany will actually turn and attack Israel!
A prophecy in Hosea 5 adds details. “And when Ephraim saw his sickness, And Judah his wound, Ephraim went to Assyria, And sent to King Contentious; But he is not able to heal you, Neither shall he cure you of your wound” (Hosea 5:13). The time will come when Israel will reach out to Assyria, seeking assistance. But Germany will not reciprocate.
These are sobering prophecies, and they can be hard to accept. But they are wonderful warnings from God, if we would only listen. Israel and Germany are trying to move past their history in the name of reconciliation. Though the effort is well intentioned, you can prove that this cooperation will end in a betrayal that will shock the world and spark war. Our free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy will show you what to watch for as this cooperation deepens.