• Germany's news in English

Merkel: Shoah binds Germany and Israel forever

AFP · 18 Mar 2008, 18:02

Published: 18 Mar 2008 18:02 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"Germany will never abandon Israel but will remain a true friend and partner," said Merkel, the first German head of government to address the Knesset, an honour usually reserved for heads of state.

"Germany and Israel are, and will always remain, linked in a special way through the memory of the Holocaust," said Merkel, who on Monday laid a wreath at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem memorial to victims of the Nazi genocide.

"The Holocaust fills us Germans with shame," said Merkel, the first German chancellor born after World War II. "I bow before the victims, I bow before the survivors, and before all those who helped them so they could survive."

Merkel said the 60th anniversary which Israel officially marks in May "is most of all an occasion for great joy."

She touched briefly on the decades-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

"I say clearly and unequivocally: the Qassam (rocket) attacks by Hamas must stop," she said in reference to attacks on southern Israel by militants in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian enclave run by theIslamist Hamas movement.

She stressed Berlin would not impose "unsolicited advice" on its ally on how to solve its decades-long conflict with the Palestinians.

"A solution can eventually only come about through you here in Israel, and with the Palestinians."

The German visitor drew loud applause when she opened her address in Hebrew, saying: "I thank you for the honour of allowing me to address the Knesset."

But the fact she delivered the rest of her speech in German ruffled feathers among MPs in a country where the memory of the Nazi murder of six million Jews still runs deep. Several lawmakers stayed away from the chamber in protest.

"I know the last sounds heard by my grandparents and my uncles ... were those of the German language," Arieh Eldad, an MP of the far-right National Union-National Religious Party said earlier in the day.

Addressing the controversy, Merkel explicitely thanked the deputies for allowing her to speak in German.

In her speech, she expressed concern over repeated calls by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Israel to be wiped off the map. She insisted the onus was on the Islamic republic to prove that its controversial nuclear programme was not aimed at developing an atomic weapon.

Israel, widely considered the sole if undeclared nuclear power in the Middle East, suspects Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons through its

nuclear programme, a charge Tehran vehemently denies.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hailed Merkel's positions on Iran and said she had told him "any threat to Israel's security is a threat to Germany's security."

Story continues below…

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, told Knesset members "Iran must know there is also a military option."

Merkel's three-day visit was designed to reiterate support of Israel by its most important political and trading partner in Europe.

On Monday, Hamas, which is pledged to Israel's destruction, slammed the German leader for ignoring the "holocaust" perpetrated by Israel in the impoverished territory.

Merkel's statements "reflect a moral degradation into which this chancellor has failed by supporting without failure an entity that commits massacres against Palestinian children, women and the elderly," Hamas said in a statement.

Earlier this month, an Israeli army blitz on Gaza, launched in response to rocket fire, killed more than 130 Palestinians, including several dozen children and other civilians. Five Israelis were also killed.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.

The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.

Anger as Berlin scraps Turkey concert on Armenia genocide
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

10 ways German completely messes up your English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd