'Sweet Revenge,' Say New Germans

Holding her brand-new German passport, Avital Direktor, 29, of Azor, just had to laugh. "What a crazy world," she thought to herself. "Germany's soil is drenched with my family's blood, and in spite of it all, I got German citizenship. I see it as taking revenge on Hitler. Sweet revenge."

The past year has seen 4,300 Israelis receive German citizenship, according to data released this week by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The figure represents a 50 percent increase over the previous year.

Avital, who belongs to that growing group of new German citizens, had not been aware that she was entitled to a German passport until three years ago. "Like many Israelis, I was completely unaware that I was entitled to citizenship," she said.

Avital's grandparents are Holocaust survivors from Berlin and Stuttgart. When she asked them whether they objected to her applying for German citizenship, they asked whether she intended to go back to Germany to pick up where they "left off."

It took Avital three years to get her German citizenship. "It's a long and complex process that stems from the rigid Germanic character," she said, recalling her experiences at the German embassy in Tel Aviv. "They require every possible piece of documentation. They want to see it all. Birth certificate, divorce papers, death certificates, the works."

"Now, I will be able to pass it on to my children," she added.

Avital said she is not surprised by the sharp rise in demand for German citizenship among Israelis. "Look at what's going on here. Ours is a land that devours its inhabitants. The obtuseness to the needy, the corruption. People are dying to get out of here."

Avital hopes to study to be a sound technician in Germany. "Here, it's expensive like you wouldn't believe, but there, I'll get it practically free of charge. I had intended to study it in Israel, but I just can't afford it financially," she explained.

According to Avital, most of her friends supported her decision to apply for German citizenship. "They said they wished they could get a German passport, too, and asked me what I was still doing here in Israel."

But not all of Avital's friends jumped for joy. In her youth, she was a member of the right-wing Moledet party. She even attended demonstrations opposite the German embassy on Holocaust Memorial Day. "Some of my friends called me a traitor," she confessed.