German president meets with Sharon (JERUSALEM POST) By NINA GILBERT 02/01/05)
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Prime Minister Sharon met with German President Horst Kohler Tuesday
In a discussion on the current situation regarding the Palestinians,
Sharon told the visiting president that if Europe´s position towards
the Arab-Israeli conflict were more balanced, then Europe could be
more involved in the peace process. But as long as Europe´s position
is biased, Sharon said, Israel will find it hard to see it in a
Sharon´s comments came even though Israel, according to diplomatic
sources in Jerusalem, believes that Germany does demonstrate a
balanced approach to the conflict, and that Berlin plays an important
role in giving voice to Israeli positions in various European and
Kohler, according to the Prime Minister´s Office, said Germany
supports Israel´s demand for an end to terrorism, and that his
planned visit Wednesday to Sderot is designed to articulate Germany´s
protest against the firing of Kassam rockets.
Turning to the topic of anti-Semitism, Sharon said he was
disappointed by a survey carried out by Germany´s University of
Bielefeld that showed that over 50 percent of Germans equate Israel´s
policies to the Palestinians with Nazi policies toward the Jews, and
68% claimed that Israel is waging a war of annihilation against the
"This survey shows that great efforts must be invested in education
and information in order to prevent severe anti-Semitism from
expanding further," Sharon said. "Europe must invest more in the
struggle against anti-Semitism."
Kohler is expected to speak out against the new anti-Semitism in an
address to a special session of the Knesset Wednesday to mark the
40th anniversary of ties between Israel and Germany.
A number of MKs have called on Kohler to speak to the parliament in a
language other than German, out of consideration for those who have
vivid Holocaust memories or relatives who were victims.
Health Minister Dan Naveh made a last-minute appeal on Tuesday to
Kohler to refrain from using the "language the Nazis used to herd my
family into the gas chambers" in the Knesset. Naveh said that for him
language is a "symbol," and despite the close ties between the two
countries the "time is not yet ripe to have German spoken in the hall
of Israeli democracy."
Five years ago, Kohler´s predecessor, Johannes Rau, was the first
person to deliver a speech in German in the Knesset, provoking some
MKs to walk out in protest and others to boycott the session. Naveh
and several other MKs are not planning to attend the session with
Kohler has said that he understands that the speech may be extremely
difficult for some people, the German Embassy spokesman said Tuesday.
However, the president has made clear that he has been invited by the
Speaker of the Knesset to address parliament in German, and he
intends to do so.
Shinui leader Yosef Lapid, a Holocaust survivor, does not object to
the speech in German. He argues that while German was the language of
Nazis, it was also the language in which Theodor Herzl wrote Der
Jundestat. "We cannot take away your right to speak in German after
inviting you to speak to the Knesset," Lapid said.
Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin said he would call on Kohler to outlaw
the neo-Nazi party NPD, and also intends to say that calls against
anti-Semitism are stronger when made in German. (© 1995-2005, The
Jerusalem Post 02/01/05)
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