Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy met with new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin on Wednesday, the first Israeli minister to meet Scholz since he took over for Angel Merkel on December 8.
Levy asked Scholz for help in bringing about the release of Israeli soldiers’ bodies and citizens being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“In light of the past success of German mediators in exchanges of captives, we would appreciate additional assistance,” Levy said.
On the Iranian issue, Levy said Israel cannot accept the Islamic Republic developing nuclear weapons and stressed the importance of Germany in the process of preventing Iran's nuclearization.
Levy thanked Scholz for Germany's uncompromising efforts to maintain the memory of the Holocaust and in the war against antisemitism. The Knesset speaker expressed concern over the rise of antisemitism around the world, especially in Europe.
Levy represented Israel at a memorial ceremony at the Wannsee villa, where the Nazis decided 80 years ago on the so-called “Final Solution to the Jewish question” in which the Jews of German-occupied Europe were deported to occupied Poland and murdered.
Levy will address the plenum of the Bundestag as part of events marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday’s anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
In another event marking the day, President Isaac Herzog will address a virtual multi-faith event co-hosted by the Hammad Global Center for Peaceful Coexistence in Bahrain and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Former Ashkenazi chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a child Holocaust survivor and president of Yad Vashem, will also address this event.
Herzog will emphasize in his address that the present generation will be the last to have the privilege of hearing first-hand testimony from Holocaust survivors, and that in a few years time the obligation for people to tell their children and their children’s children will be that of individuals who did not experience the Holocaust, but who have a duty to tell the story and to warn coming generations of the dangers of antisemitism, hatred, racism and intolerance.
For this reason, Herzog will commend both the King Hamad Global Center and the Simon Wiesenthal Center for their commitment to sustaining the truth and passing on the legacy of the Holocaust, and for initiating their multi-faith gathering for this purpose.
Meanwhile, parliamentarians from the Israel Allies network will gather online for a conference on the adoption and implementation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism, to be hosted by the Israel Allies Foundation, the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM) and the Combat Antisemitism Movement.
The event, also hosted by MEP Bert Jan Ruissen and Finnish MP Peter Ostman, will be attended by parliamentarians throughout Europe, the US and Africa. Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai will open the program and encourage the parliamentarians to look toward the IHRA definition as a means to a greater goal.
“Choosing to adopt IHRA is a clear and practical first step,” Shai said. “It allows all of us to work together to combat antisemitism based on a shared language and understanding of the challenge itself. The EU’s adoption of IHRA set the groundwork for its new strategic plan to combat antisemitism and foster Jewish life in Europe.”
Other speakers will include Co-Chair of the US Congressional Israel Allies Caucus Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), ECPM president Valeriu Ghiletchi, former US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating antisemitism Elan Carr, MK Ruth Wasserman Lande, and Katharina von Schnurbein, the European leader responsible for the EU’s adoption of the IHRA definition and the first person to be appointed as the European Commission Coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life.
“Faith-based diplomacy is the most important diplomatic tool that Israel has,” said Israel Allies Foundation president Josh Reinstein. “We know we can count on the legislators in the Israel Allies network to implement tools like the IHRA definition to combat antisemitism and its new manifestation, anti-Zionism.”
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