Although some time has passed, I want to use this moment to express my deepest and sincerest apologies for the attacks you endured during your recent speech in the Knesset. It is not every day that a private citizen feels obligated to apologize for his government’s actions, but as you must be aware, these are not normal times for the state of Israel. The Babylonian Talmud taught us that ‘proper behavior precedes the Torah’ and every person must respect and treat his fellow humans appropriately. However, as Israeli society becomes increasingly nationalist and religious, now even its friends are treated badly. I have no right to ask, but I hope that you will find in you the strength to forgive those who failed to listen to and understand your message to Jerusalem.
Since my partner is a German citizen, who some consider to be part of the ‘third generation’ after the Holocaust, I have firsthand experience of the issues Germany faces in dealing with its past. When I heard your brave words about your personal commitment to preventing this woeful act from ever happening again and your dedication to safeguarding Israel’s future, it clearly illustrated your nation’s integrity. Today Israel enjoys strong ties with both Germany and the EU in the area of science, culture, sport and commerce. However I fear that Israeli citizens are becoming more detached from their European neighbors and know less and less about the Germany of today.
The members of the Knesset who attacked you are representative of the growing radical trend within Israeli society. Seventy years have passed since the end of the Second World War and the Europe that was once a hotbed of competing totalitarian aggressors, has transformed into a peaceful union of peace. What the attacks against you and indirectly the half a billion citizens you represent showed, is that many in Israel do not share the same values towards respecting to civil rights. If we are to prevent another Holocaust, then it is imperative that we must tackle racism, discrimination and protecting human rights.
Rather than commit to being a ‘light to the nations’, as it says in the Bible, and defend human rights everywhere, the Jewish state continues to dismiss any criticisms from its friends as anti- Semitism and justify using excessive force on the basis of past Jewish suffering. Israel still has friends like you and the current American administration, but it is more attribute to their character than to the often ungrateful return my nation gives. I thank you for coming to Jerusalem, and speaking in your native language in my parliament, demonstrating that despite my state’s recent choices, those of us who are committed to democracy, openness and human rights are not alone. You have my eternal gratefulness and friendship.