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German president meets with Sharon (JERUSALEM POST) By NINA GILBERT 02/01/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1107280304674&p=1078027574097 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Prime Minister Sharon met with German President Horst Kohler Tuesday evening.

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 mediator role.

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 international forums.

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 Palestinians.

"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.

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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