Tuesday, March 18, 2008

German in the Knesset

AOG, Madrid

A good day for Germany and Israel. Or so it would appear.

"The Shoah fills us Germans with shame. I bow before the victims. I bow before the survivors and before all those who helped them survive." So said Angela Merkel at Israel's Knesset in German, using the Hebrew word for Holocaust.

Her visit to the Knesset has proven to be controversial. It is the first time that a German Chancellor visits and her use of German has, alone, ensured that some of its members were not present in protest to this dispensation- something which was heatedly debated last week.

Merkel's visit was emotionally charged due to the memory of the Holocaust, and in her address the Chancellor said the murder of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis continues to be a source of shame for Germans.

"The mass murder of six million Jews, carried out in the name of Germany, has brought indescribable suffering to the Jewish people, Europe and the entire world," she said.

A few of these MKs have declared that although Germany is Israel's friends, the memory of the victims should be respected.

National Union-National Religious Party MK Arieh Eldad said in response to the committee resolution that he would stand up and leave the hall during Merkel's speech. "I can't bear the thought of hearing German in the Knesset," he said. "This is the language my grandparents were murdered in."

Until today, I was not aware that one could be murdered in a particular language. I always thought one could be murdered, period.

However, the circumstances surrounding the common histories of Germany and Israel are not easy to dismiss, nor should they be.

I for one am all for using whatever language in a political forum so long as communication is ensured.

No comments: