This week, Israeli daily Haaretz published an article with the headline: “Germany, Light Unto the Nations of the World.” The tenor of the article is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is proving that it is possible to learn from history. According to Haaretz, Ms. Merkel has opened the gates of Berlin to refugees fleeing certain death. “Good for you, Germany,” the article continues.
The world is being inundated with images of a Germany where cheering people welcome refugees with open arms. The notion of a German chancellor who is opening the borders instead of merely preaching austerity to other countries has shaken stereotypes.
The Italian media have been discussing this strange new Germany for days. During the Greek crisis, Ms. Merkel was often depicted wearing a Prussian military helmet. Now the media are trying to explain her transformation. The Italian daily Corriere della Sera devoted an entire page to the phenomenon, in a story titled “The German Spirit.” La Repubblica, another Italian newspaper, wrote: “Merkel’s Transformation: Berlin Chooses the Good Face.”
For her part Ms. Merkel, who had initially been chided at home for her timid handling of the influx of refugees, is using the positive response to her about-face to exert pressure on other countries. “We simply have to pitch in and overcome all obstacles,” she said yesterday in the German parliament. “If we are courageous and sometimes lead the way, we are more likely to find a European solution.”