Skip To Content
Breaking News

German Teen Immigrant Hopes for Israel’s Destruction

A teenage girl who has become a symbol of would-be immigrants to Germany has said she actually hopes to live in Palestine.

By Palestine, Reem Sahwi, 14, means “everything,” including present-day Israel.

“I hope that someday [Israel] won’t be there anymore, just Palestine,” the teenager told the German daily Die Welt on Sunday. “The country should not be called Israel anymore but Palestine.”

The teen’s remarks, tantamount to calling for Israel’s destruction, put a new twist on a story that has brought the situation for migrant families into focus.

Sawhi, whose family came to Germany from a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon about four years ago, drew national attention last week when she broke into tears during a discussion between youth and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Sawhi said that the uncertainty of her family’s situation plagued her; they are still waiting for a decision as to whether they can stay. Meanwhile, she said she wanted to plan for higher education just like her German friends.

Merkel, while comforting the girl, told her that politics can sometimes be difficult, and that not everyone who wants to stay in Germany can do so. Germany is facing urgent needs of refugees from the conflict in Syria, among other areas.

But to stay in Germany turns out not to be Sahwi’s deepest wish.

On her wall is a “historical map of Palestine,” Die Welt reported. Neither Sawhi or her parents have ever been to the Palestinian Authority or Israel, but Germany apparently is only a stepping-stone along the way to Palestine.

“One day, I will live there,” she said.

When asked whether she is aware that Germany has a special relationship with Israel, and that it is illegal to express hatred against Jews, she answered that Germany “has freedom of speech, and I can say what I think.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.