Berlin’s most widely circulated newspaper, BZ, devoted its front page Tuesday to an extraordinary display of solidarity with Israel, running a story speculating on what would happen if Berlin were attacked by rockets similar to those being fired at the Jewish state.
Under the headline "What if Berlin were Israel?" the paper presented a map of the potential damage Berlin could theoretically suffer if it were in the range of the same type of rockets. The cover story appeared only days after the Israeli Embassy in Berlin posted a similar map on its own Facebook page, showing how much of the Berlin area would be in range of those projectiles.
In the front-page story, the paper presented a scenario of various targets in Berlin being attacked by rockets and missiles. “How does one live in a country that is having thousands of rockets fired at it every year?” the paper asked.
“Imagine that Berlin has been under rocket attack for a week. That on Ku’damm [Kurfurstendamm] Avenue, there are alarms every half-hour, warning of another barrage and that three people are killed by an explosion in the Tiergarten. That 11 rockets had just been fired at the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam."
“Would you say that this is war? So you understand how the people of Israel have been feeling during the past six days.”
The paper explained that the rockets Hamas is firing at Israel are manufactured in Iran. It also quoted German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle during his visit to Israel Monday as saying, “Israel is our friend. It’s our partner. It has every right to defend itself and its citizens.”
Berlin embassy spokesman Itay Tagner told Haaretz that it had been running an intensive public diplomacy campaign.
“Since these events started, we’ve been trying to make it sink in what it’s like to live with missiles,” Tagner said. “Our message has been: ‘If even one rocket were to fall on Berlin, how would you feel/respond?’ Our focus has been on bringing individual voices of Israelis who describe to the Germans here the abnormal reality of living in the south in particular, and in Israel in general, right now.”
To do this, the embassy located German-speaking Israelis to be interviewed by German media outlets, as well as Germans who live in Israel. One particularly interesting voice in this context has been that of the daughter of late German president Johannes Rau, who wrote a blog post entitled “My first siren,” which was also printed in the daily Tagesspiegel.
“Until now the operation [Pillar of Defense] has been totally legitimized by the German media,” Tagner said. “We’ve succeeded, even if it’s only partially and for the moment, in conveying the feeling of living under missile fire in Israel. Understanding and identification generate support.”