Germany’s long-term Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Israel yesterday evening, ahead of several meetings between her and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and their respective country’s ministers.
Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, hosted the German chancellor at their official Jerusalem residence yesterday and have held inter-governmental meetings (G2G) today. This is the seventh such meeting between the German chancellor and Israel’s prime minister – and ministers each of their countries – in the last decade.
Chancellor Merkel had threatened to cancel her long-planned trip if Israel went ahead with its planned evacuation of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar – a claim denied by both Israeli and German officials. This government-to-government meeting, supposed to be an annual event to showcase the closeness of ties between the two countries, was postponed from May 2017 because of German displeasure at Israel’s settlement policies and its position on the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.
The inter-governmental consultations will focus – inter alia – on security, scientific, economic, cultural and cyber cooperation. There will also be a series of discussions and the signing of MOUs the goal of which is to strengthen bilateral relations.
The expected presence of Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel’s National Security Council at the meeting between the two leaders was a hint that the discussions were likely to focus on Iran and the developing situation in Syria.
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that since the February 15, 2016 inter-governmental (G2G) consultations in Jerusalem there has been significant progress in various fields including security, trade, culture and community affairs.
In addition to her meetings with Netanyahu, Chancellor Merkel visited Yad Vashem, the world Holocuast memorial center. She laid a wreath in the hall of remembrance, where an eternal flame burns and where the names of all the Nazi-run labor, concentration and extermination camps are etched. She also visited the hall of names, in which Yad Vashem holds as much information as they can find about Holocaust victims – and she signed the visitors’ book.
Two-minute siren brings country to a standstill amid memorial ceremonies marking annual remembrance day
Israelis across the country paused for two minutes Monday morning in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered in Europe under Nazi rule as a siren pierced the clear blue sky in an annual marking of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The 10 a.m. siren was to be followed by ceremonies at schools, memorials and elsewhere in honor of those who lost their lives, as well as Shoah survivors.
The country’s central commemoration event got underway immediately after the siren at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem, where dignitaries will lay wreaths next to a monument commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943.
Among those taking part in the wreath-laying are President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein.
The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Restoring Their Identities: The Fate of the Individual During the Holocaust,” Yad Vashem said ahead of Remembrance Day.
At 11 a.m. the Knesset was scheduled to mark the day with a ceremony titled “Unto Every Person There is a Name,” in which lawmakers recite names of victims of the Nazis for nearly two hours.
The ceremony’s name comes from a famous poem by the Israeli poet Zelda Schneersohn Mishkovsky (commonly referred to by her first name alone). The musical version, which is often played at memorial ceremonies, repeats, “Unto every person there is a name given by…their mother and father,” “their sins,” “their loves,” and “their death.”
Decades after the liberation of the Nazi camps, the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day continues to be marked with solemnity in Israel, with restaurants, stores and entertainment centers closed and Holocaust-themed movies and documentaries broadcast on TV and radio.
Most schools and many preschools hold official assemblies where students honor the dead and hear stories from survivors.
At 1:30 p.m. local time, thousands of people are expected to take part in the March of the Living event in Poland, walking along the three kilometers (1.8 miles) of railway tracks between the sites of the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps.
Chief Justice Miriam Naor and Education Minister Naftali Bennett will accompany a delegation of Israeli officials and Jewish students from around the world at the annual march.
The Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies began at Yad Vashem on Sunday evening, with six survivors lighting beacons — one for every million Jews slain. Moshe Ha-Elion, Moshe Jakubowitz, Jeannine Sebbane-Bouhanna, Moshe Porat, Max Privler and Elka Abramovitz were chosen to light the symbolic torches this year.
During the ceremony, Rivlin said that Holocaust survivors had bequeathed a solemn message to the world that people must preserve their humanity, even in the face of the greatest horrors.
The president said Holocaust remembrance and the lessons to be learned from the genocide of the Jewish people are founded on three central pillars: self-defense, a shared destiny, and human rights.
“Man is beloved, every man, created in God’s image. This is a sacred obligation that the Jewish people cannot and does not wish to evade. At all times. In every situation. So too, we cannot remain silent in face of the horrors being committed far away from us, and certainly those happening just across the border,” he noted, referring to the Syrian civil war that is estimated to have cost over 300,000 lives. “Maintaining one’s humanity: this is the immense courage bequeathed to us by the victims – and by you, the survivors of the Shoah.”
Rivlin’s words stood in stark contrast to Netanyahu’s, whose main thrust was to blame the Allies’ failure to bomb the Nazi concentration camps from 1942, which he said cost the lives of four million Jews and millions of others.
Citing recently released UN documents that show the Allies were aware of the scale of the Holocaust in 1942, some two years earlier than previously assumed, Netanyahu said this new research assumed “a terrible significance.”
“If the powers in 1942 had acted against the death camps — and all that was needed was repeated bombing of the camps — had they acted then, they could have saved 4 million Jews and millions of other people.”
“The powers knew, and they did not act,” he told the audience at the national ceremony at Yad Vashem.
In a bleak address, the Israeli prime minister said that the Holocaust was enabled by three factors: the vast hatred of the Jews, global indifference to the horrors, and “the terrible weakness of our people in the Diaspora.”
The Article was published on The Times of Israel