German President Koehler Opens
Knesset Address in Hebrew
(IFM) German President Horst Koehler, addressing the Knesset Wednesday
to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of ties between
Israel and Germany, stunned the parliament when he began his speech
in Hebrew, the Jerusalem Post reported. Several MKs had called
on Koehler to deliver his remarks in any language other than German
out of consideration for the memory of Holocaust victims, but
in Hebrew, said he was "grateful" and "deeply moved"
to have been invited to address the Knesset in Jerusalem. He then
continued his speech in German, detailing the ties between the
will always stand by Israel and its people," he said in a
gentle voice that shook when he spoke about the victims of the
Holocaust. He said Germany would ensure that Israel can "live
within internationally recognized borders, free of fear and terror."
Reuven Rivlin said the occasion was "not easy" for many
members of Knesset. He termed the relations between the countries
as "complicated, warm, and close." The German president
noted that there could never be "normality" in ties
between the two countries.
by Koehler comes only a week after the 60th anniversary commemoration
of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, where Kohler
took part in the ceremonies.