German President: Meeting with Breaking the Silence didn’t help diplomatic relations

The German President spoke at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and related to the political storm that developed recently regarding German-Israeli relations after his foreign minister met with radical leftist groups.
Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem yesterday regarding his Foreign Minister’s decision to meet with Breaking the Silence: “I believe that civil-society organizations, which are part of the social debate, deserve our respect as democrats, even when they take a critical view of a government – in Germany but also here in Israel.”

Steinmeier, who met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, said he disagreed with the decision not to receive the German Foreign Minister but decided against canceling his Israel trip because it might have allowed relations to “move deeper into a dead end, which would have harmed both sides. Preserving the miracle that is this friendship is an unshakable task incumbent on us Germans. It was therefore clear to me that my first trip outside Europe as federal president would take me here to Israel. The events of the past two weeks have done nothing to change this. On the contrary, these discussions have strengthened my resolve to talk about democracy here in Israel.”

According to Steinmeir, Israel and Germany are “bound by a terrible past. Relations between Germany and Israel will always be special. This is something we must not forget, particularly when things are difficult and a harsher wind is blowing.”  He added, in what was perhaps an allusion to Breaking the Silence, “Whatever happens, there must never be silence between Germany and Israel!”

He claimed that Israeli democracy is perhaps more successful than German democracy and he praised how the Jewish state deals with terrorism: “I can only say that I admire Israeli democracy for how it has defied external threats for decades by taking pride in its diversity. And that is why I am confident that it will preserve this proud diversity internally too.”

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