Germany´s Koehler vows to fight anti-Semitism (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Amiram Barkat and Gideon Alon 02/02/05)
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German President Horst Koehler arrived yesterday for a four-day visit
to Israel, marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of ties
between the two countries.
At a state reception hosted by President Moshe Katsav, Koehler
promised that his country will use all lawful means at its disposal
to combat anti-Semitism and extreme nationalism in Germany.
"The relations between our countries will always remain special.
Germany and Israel have a joint responsibility for history and for
the future," he said.
Katsav said Israel and Germany "have special relations, built on a
distant past of Jewish flourishing and creativity and a near past of
destruction and grief that Germany brought on the Jewish people."
After the reception at the president´s residence in Jerusalem,
Koehler went to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, describing his
visit as "filled with pain, sadness and shame." Koehler refrained
from speaking to reporters during the visit. He was given an overview
of joint activities that Yad Vashem and Germany are engaged in and
expressed an interest in international educational programs for
inculcating the lessons drawn from the Holocaust. At the end of the
visit, Koehler signed the guest book and wrote, "We must never
Police received a report in the afternoon that a group of teenage
boys had torched a German flag at the entrance to Jerusalem. Police
found the remains of the charred flag at the scene.
Today, Koehler will meet with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and deliver
an address in German to the Knesset at a special plenary session.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin plans to call on Koehler to work to
outlaw the neo-Nazi National Democratic party, saying that "parties
of neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers have no place in the German democratic
Health Minister Dan Naveh, the son of Holocaust survivors, announced
he is boycotting the visiting president because Koehler rejected
requests that he not address the Knesset in German. Several other
lawmakers announced they would boycott the speech today: MKs Hemi
Doron (Shinui), Avraham Ravitz (Degel Hatorah), Aryeh Eldad (National
Union) and Gila Finkelstein (National Religious Party).
The issue has sparked an emotional controversy, even though former
German president Johannes Rau addressed the Knesset in German in 2000.
Koehler is also expected to visit Sderot and institutions of higher
learning. (© Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 02/02/05)
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