Bundestag president's address to Knesset in German could spark controversy

In the past Yacimovich has said allowing speeches in the Knesset in German is offensive to Holocaust survivors.

June 23, 2015 17:46
1 minute read.
Norbert Lammert

Norbert Lammert. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Knesset will mark 50 years of Israel- German relations on Wednesday, with a speech by Bundestag President Norbert Lammert in the plenum and other festivities.

Lammert will be met with fanfare at the plaza in front of the Knesset. He and his deputies will hold a joint meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and his own deputies.

Then, Lammert will give a speech in German in the plenum.

In the past, Knesset speeches in German were a loaded issue. In 2008, when Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke, several MKs stayed away, including former MKs Arye Eldad and Yitzhak Levi of the National Union-National Religious Party.

Zionist Union MK Shelly Yacimovich, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, has said that allowing speeches in the Knesset in German is offensive to survivors, even if Germany is currently Israel’s ally. As a Labor MK, she, too, skipped Merkel’s speech. Yacimovich’s office did not respond to questions as to whether she planned to boycott Wednesday’s speech.

Several hours after the speech, there will be a formal reception in the Knesset’s Chagall Hall, with a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra – its second appearance in the Knesset. Sixty musicians, including a German Philharmonic Symphony violinist, will play German-Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn’s Third Symphony. Mendelssohn’s works were boycotted by Nazi Germany.

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