Koehler addresses Israeli parliament in Hebrew
2 February 2005, JERUSALEM - German President Horst Koehler opened a speech to the Israeli parliament on Wednesday, marking 40 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations by speaking in Hebrew.
2 February 2005
JERUSALEM - German President Horst Koehler opened a speech to the Israeli parliament on Wednesday, marking 40 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations by speaking in Hebrew.
Coming after some Israeli MP's had complained about German being spoken in Israel's parliament, the Knesset, Kohler thanked Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon for the invitation called for an offensive against anti-Semitism.
"This journey, this day, this hour, move me very much," he said, before continuing in German.
"We must deal with the extreme right and the anti-Semitism. We must launch an offensive against it and we will," said Koehler.
But he noted: "Who would have thought 40 years ago how good and even friendly our relations would be today?" The fact that Jewish communities lived in Germany today were a "sign of faith".
Addressing the special Knesset session, Sharon agreed that while there could be no forgiveness for the Holocaust, relations between Israel and Germany today were of "friendship and full cooperation".
But he added: "Sixty years after the Holocaust, the pain over the murder of the Jews has not weakened."
"Accepting responsibility for past acts, does not exempt current European leaders from future crimes against the Jewish people," he said.
He called on Wednesday for a "merciless" and "never-ending" war against growing anti-Semitism in Europe.
Opening the session, Speaker Reuven Rivlin called on Germany to outlaw neo-Nazi parties and prosecute Holocaust deniers.
A public debate in Israel over whether Koehler should address the Knesset in German overshadowed his appearance and a handful of Knesset members, including Health Minister Danny Naveh, boycotted the session in protest.
However, the only Holocaust survivor still serving in the Knesset, Opposition Leader Tommy Lapid, in a speech in which he described his own liberation from a Hungarian ghetto, defended Kohler's right to address the Israeli parliament in his mother tongue.
[Copyright DPA with Expatica 2005]
Subject: German news