Germany Promises Israel to Combat Anti-Semitism (REUTERS) By Dan Williams JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 02/02/05 12:08 PM ET)
Reuters News Service
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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The German president, citing his country´s
historic responsibility for the Holocaust, told Israel on Wednesday
Germany would always support a secure Jewish state and combat anti-
Semitism he said still existed at home.
Israelis have been worried by recent polls in Germany in which only
one in five felt personal guilt for the Holocaust and more than half
likened Israeli crackdowns on Palestinians in principle to Nazi
But President Horst Koehler told the Israeli
parliament: "Responsibility for the Shoah (Holocaust) is part of the
German identity." He added: "We must all understand that the victims
of the Shoah have given us a task: never again to allow genocide."
In a speech marking four decades of bilateral ties, Koehler
said: "Xenophobia and anti-Semitism have not disappeared from
Germany. Comparisons seeking to play down the Shoah are a scandal
which we have to confront."
Germany has been Israel´s most reliable European ally in terms of
trade, defense and a public German reluctance to criticize a Jewish
state that rose from the ashes of the Nazi genocide during World War
"It is an irrevocable maxim of German policy that Israel should be
able to live in its internationally recognized borders free of fear
and terror," Koehler said. "Germany stands unshakeably by Israel and
Yet resentment of Germany still runs deep in Israel. Four lawmakers
shunned Koehler´s speech because it was delivered in German.
Political analysts detect a new hostility to Israel among the German
public that they ascribe to a European perception of the country as
a U.S. proxy and to media images of the Middle East conflict.
More than half of Germans polled by Bielefeld University in December
said they saw Israel´s handling of a Palestinian revolt as no
different in principle to what the Nazis did to the Jews -- some six
million of whom were killed in the Holocaust.
"Whereas in the past anti-Semites objected to the Jews´ existence as
equal partners in society, the new anti-Semites deny the Jewish
people´s right to protect itself as a national entity, an equal
partner in the society of nations," Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon said in his parliament address.
Koehler, who arrived in Jerusalem after a visit to an Israeli border
town that has suffered Palestinian rocket attacks, voiced
understanding for Israel´s security concerns.
But he stopped short of pledging that Germany would ban far-right
political groups, as demanded by Israeli officials.
Koehler expressed hope for a internationally backed "road map" to
peaceful Palestinian statehood in the West Bank and Gaza,
territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
"Peace can only be reached by Israelis and Palestinians themselves.
The whole world hopes with you that the talks that have been agreed
will bring progress. We all know that these are questions of
existential importance for both sides," he said. (© Reuters 2005
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