Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

What people in Germany are saying about Obama’s visit

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obama.jpgObamamania has hit Germany hard, but many here are wary of the big show the Democratic presidential candidate will put on in Berlin on Thursday, when his speech at the “Victory Column“ could attract hundreds of thousands.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Die Zeit magazine that the “young and open” Obama was raising hopes of a renewal in transatlantic relations and for that reason he should be heeded.

But Eckart von Klaeden, a foreign policy expert for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, recalled that Germans had seen big political events like Obama’s speech before. Hundreds of thousands had turned out for Helmut Kohl and Willy Brandt during during German unification , but the message was clear: “Euphoria in politics is an invitation to disappointment.”

Obama is at least not like Bush, seen by many Germans as a war-monger, said Manfred Guellner, head of the Forsa opinion polling group. “There is a lot of hope associated with Obama. People hope he’ll be a peace, rather than a war president.” But the charismatic Democratic senator will find that if he asks Germany to get more involved militarily in Afghanistan or even Iraq, “the positive feeling towards him could change very quickly”.

Obama on Jerusalem. What did he mean?

Barack Obama said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee yesterday: “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”

Compare that remark with this comment by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert published on January 1 in an interview with The Jerusalem Post: “The world that is friendly to Israel… that really supports Israel, when it speaks of the future, it speaks of Israel in terms of the 1967 borders. It speaks of the division of Jerusalem.”
Obama’s comment infuriated Palestinians.
The United States and other international powers do not recognise Israel’s annexation of Arab East Jerusalem following the 1967 war. The future of Jerusalem is one of the most divisive issues facing Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators as they try to reach a deal before George W Bush leaves office in 2009.
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank called it a “pandering performance”

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