This coming September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will step down after serving in the top office since November 2005. During Merkel’s time, Germany has become more open and less composed, more demographically and politically diverse, but less affluent.
For many years, Merkel was regarded as one of the strongest women in the world. Critics accused her of ruining her party, the Christian Democratic Union, by relinquishing the social-democrat ideology in favor of a left-wing stance, flooding Germany with illegal immigrants, dividing Europe, and as of late, mishandling the Covid-19 crisis.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, there are some good things to say about her. She brought America and Russia closer. Also, she did not fall into harsh conflicts with France or the UK despite the fact that during her time, the UK withdrew from the European Union. Her good ties with Russia’s KGB from the time when Germany was still split between West and East helped her skillfully maneuver her connections with Moscow, and in general, I think she did many good things for Europe.
We can always find reasons for criticism, but I do not think it is helpful. I think it will be good if her successor takes the same direction she has set forth.
Angela Merkel has also been criticized for the rise in antisemitism during her time in office. While it is true that since 2005, when she took office, antisemitism has intensified tremendously in Germany, I don’t think it is her fault that this has happened.
Antisemitism has been rising all over Europe and the US for many years, and there is nothing any head of state can do about it. It is simply the call of the hour for antisemitism to grow. However, if we insist on pointing to a culprit in this perilous development, we, the Jews, should point to ourselves and our behavior toward each other.
As I have elaborated in both my books, Like a Bundle of Reeds and The Jewish Choice, Jew hatred grows when hatred of Jews by Jews grows, and not of its own accord. There are profound reasons that explain how this happens and why, but they are beyond the scope of this piece. You are welcome to read my books and get a better understanding of this process.
Another issue that “awarded” Merkel with extensive backlash, including from me, is the refugee crisis. However, here, too, I don’t think it is a personal thing, but simply the zeitgeist, if you will. One person cannot change the spirit of the time; it is rather the time that brings the person and “speaks” through that person. This is why it is written, “The king’s heart is like streams of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1).
Now it seems He is turning it in a new direction. Judging by the climatic, political, military, and international events of this summer, a volatile future awaits humanity. We will navigate it successfully only if we learn to cooperate. If we maintain the individualistic attitude and shun the need for mutual responsibility, a grim future awaits us.
In order to become more responsible for one another, we will need new leaders and new perspectives—more inclusive than our current approach. If such leaders arise, they will lead humanity to a blissful future. If no such leaders come, we will still arrive at this blissful future, but we will have to go through hell to get there.